KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — We all have days when everything goes wrong: A scratch on our car, a missing wallet or phone, a loved one falls ill. It all piles up.
This is usually when we stop cracking jokes at all those #healing hashtags on Instagram and embrace some self care.
Me, nothing lifts my mood quite as much as an oh-so-decadent chocolate fudge brownie. A gooey, fudgy heart oozing with melted chocolate; a crackly surface, like fissures with hidden lava treasure beneath — what’s not to like?
Oh but when the going gets tough, a basic brownie just isn’t enough. There is a time and place for gilding the lily – surely now, when things go wrong, is the time?
Imagine if the fudgy centre hides nuggets of toasted almonds, roughly chopped up so you never know what to expect — first a sliver, next nearly a whole, crunchy nut.
How about a glaze of dark chocolate ganache, a smothering surely, an invocation of over-the-top gluttony?
Dip it in some cream redolent of fresh vanilla, scraped just moments before from its pod. Such an expense, such a luxury. But, hey, if now isn’t the time to pamper oneself, when will we ever?
NUTTY CHOCOLATE FUDGE BROWNIES WITH DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE & VANILLA CREAM
With these many ingredients and moving parts, it may seem like baking such brownies is a lot of work.
The truth is that, with a little preparation, the entire process can be easy-peasy.
The dark chocolate ganache, for example, can be prepared ahead of time; if chilled, you just need to remove it from the refrigerator and warm it up slightly so that it can be spread smoothly on the top of the brownies.
Substitutions are the way to go to customise this dessert further. Replace the almonds with your favourite nuts such as walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts or cashews.
If you can’t find crème fraîche, it may be substituted with Greek yoghurt or sour cream. (The texture, especially with the Greek yoghurt, may be a bit thicker, however.)
Worried the brownies might look too decadent? Make it look healthier with a garnish of dried edible flower petals. Maybe a leaf or two of micro-greens. But let’s get real here — the last thing you want a brownie to taste like is healthy!
Ingredients A: Chocolate Fudge Brownies
240g butter, cubed
200g unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
130g all-purpose flour
200g chopped toasted almonds
Ingredients B: Dark Chocolate Ganache
200g coarsely chopped dark chocolate (at least 70%)
100g coarsely chopped milk chocolate
Sea salt to taste
250ml heavy cream
60g butter, cut into small pieces
Ingredients C: Vanilla Cream
300g crème fraîche
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
Preheat oven to 350°. Over a low to medium heat, melt butter and chocolate together in a saucepan. Set aside.
Whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until well blended.
Now you may stir in the following, one at a time, ensuring each ingredient is fully combined before adding the next: the butter-chocolate mixture, the flour and finally the almonds.
Lightly grease a baking pan (typically a 8x12-inch pan — the thickness of your brownie will differ based on the size of the pan).
Pour the brownie batter in and spread evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the centre no longer wobbles. (You do not want to overbake for a really fudgy brownie and it will continue to cook in the hot pan after removal from the oven.)
Allow to cool completely in the pan before removing and cutting into slices.
While the brownie is cooling you can make the dark chocolate ganache (this can also be prepared ahead of time) and the vanilla cream.
To make the chocolate ganache filling, put the dark chocolate, milk chocolate and sea salt in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
Using a non-stick pan, bring the heavy cream and butter to a simmer over medium heat. (You’ll have more than enough ganache; you can keep the leftover refrigerated for up to two weeks and frozen for up to three months.)
To make the vanilla cream, scrape the seeds from the vanilla pods into a small bowl of crème fraîche. Combine till the vanilla has evenly infused the crème fraîche — your vanilla cream is ready.
Plate the still warm slices of brownies on individual dishes. Spread some dark chocolate ganache on top of each slice and serve with the vanilla cream on the side.
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