Nutty brownies with mocha ganache
This post was created in partnership with OXO.
The morning of Thanksgiving I stumbled upon an article on domino titled Eat This Before You Eat Your Thanksgiving Feast. Did you read it? Did the advice the article was dishing out make you as angry as it made me? Listen, I'm all about eating mindfully and making better food choices but a woman (and registered dietician) featured in the article suggested we eat before the big meal so we're not as tempted to make poor food choices, wear form-fitting clothing so that we're physically unable to comfortably overeat (she claims "nothing feels worse than when you eat so much you have to unbutton a button or loosen your belt" but she obviously has no idea what she's talking about because unbuttoning your pants after a big holiday meal is one of the greatest feelings EVER), and carry a clutch so we have one less hand available for reaching, grabbing, etc. Not surprisingly, I read that article with my mouth wide open thinking how sad it is that someone gave this woman a platform to spew her nonsense.
I'm pretty sure I'm preaching to the choir here but it goes without saying: the holidays are for indulging. For coming together and enjoying good food with people you love. For eating an extra brownie or slice of pie. For getting so full that you have to change out of your high-waisted skirt and into something less restrictive just to make some room for that extra brownie or slice of pie (been there). If you gain a little weight, so what? I can think of far worse things than gaining a few pounds because you lived the holiday season to its fullest. As someone who's gained 20+ pounds in the past 18 months, I can tell you with absolute certainty that it feels a lot better to lead the life of a person who eats whatever the hell they want (in moderation, of course) than to lead the life of a person who restricts and holds back (like I did for 15+ years).
So now that I got that outta my system let's talk about these brownies. They are freakin' delicious and going into the development for them my goal was to make a better version of those Little Debbie fudge brownies (you know, the one's with the nuts scattered on top) I ate throughout the years of my youth. My plan was to add more nuts because DUH and then to also add some strong coffee to the ganache because coffee + chocolate = pretty much the best thing ever. So I made the brownies and - I kid you not - when Thom took his first bite he yelled upstairs, "Hey! Do you remember those brownies with the shitty little nuts on top? These are like a way better version of those!" And I lost it because THOM THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I WAS GOING FOR HOW DID YOU KNOW?
If you loved those Little Debbie fudge brownies, you're going to love these. And even if you didn't, you're probably going to love these because they're rich (so rich that I had to cut the brownies considerably smaller than normal) and flavorful and perfectly fudgy.
Now, how about an unofficial gift guide? Since it's that time of year, I figured I'd round up some of my favorite OXO gadgets and kitchen tools - ones I actually use in my kitchen (even long before they became a sponsor of OLC). We're not doing the personal gift thing this year (I finally convinced Thom to spend XMAS handing out gift cards and cookies to the houseless) (!!!) but I totally get that a lot of people prefer to celebrate the holidays by giving things to the folks they love. And that's totally cool. <3
FOR THE BAKER
This 11 pound food scale, these POP containers, and these POP container scoops (that I keep in my POP containers). If you've got a baker in your life, you should probably get them all of those things and maybe even fill the containers with their favorite flours and sugars and stuff. Because simple + necessary gifts are always the best gifts.
FOR THE COFFEE LOVER
It is no exaggeration when I say getting the adjustable temperature pour-over kettle was a game changer for me. It used to take right around 10 minutes to boil water in my stovetop kettle and now it takes less than two. I also love the pour-over dripper, conical burr grinder, and the coffee POP container (but if you get the container you've gotta fill it with some good beans, man).
FOR THE PERSON WHO'S ALL ABOUT SOME USEFUL KITCHEN WARES
This prep cutting board (we keep two in our kitchen), this 2-cup angled measuring cup (which I saw on Action's show and was like I NEED THAT), this stainless steel soap dispenser (we keep our dish washing liquid in it), and this covered silicone ice cube tray (used here).
Notes: To make your own cake flour, replace two tablespoons of unbleached flour with two tablespoons of potato starch, corn starch, arrowroot powder, etc. for every cup of flour. To make these gluten free, simply substitute any 1:1 gluten free baking flour mix. I've noticed that the chocolate used has a pretty big impact on the quality of the brownies so if you can get your hands on Chocolove's 70% strong dark chocolate bar, do it. If you want to make the brownies in a 9" pan, knock yourself out. Just keep an eye on them as you'll only have to bake them for 26-32 minutes (depending on how you take your brownies). If you're down with consuming caffeine any time of day, go ahead and replace the decaf with the caffeinated stuff (but I swear you can't tell this recipe uses decaf).
This post is sponsored by OXO, maker of some of the smartest gadgets and kitchen tools available on the market. All opinions are my own (and I think OXO rules).
NUTTY BROWNIES WITH MOCHA GANACHE
1 cup (130g) unbleached cake flour
1/2 cup (40g) cacao powder
1/4 teaspoon (1g) baking soda
1 teaspoon (5g) fine sea salt
1 bar (90g) good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped (see notes above)
1/4 cup (52g) refined coconut oil
1 cup (205g) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons (8g) pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (55g) unsweetened almondmilk
1 (40g) flax egg
1/2 cup (60g) mixed nuts, roughly chopped
1 bar (90g) good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons (28g) unsweetened almondmilk
1/4 cup (50g) extra strong brewed decaf coffee
Pinch of fine sea salt
YOU'LL ALSO NEED
Mixed nuts, roughly chopped
Sea salt flakes
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line an 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper and grease the bottom (not the sides otherwise the batter will creep up 'em); set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cacao powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk to combine then set aside. In a double-boiler set over medium heat, melt the chocolate and coconut oil. Once melted, stir in the sugar then cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and almondmilk. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the chocolate mixture and flax egg; stir with a spatula just until combined then fold in the mixed nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and level with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350˚F for 30-38 minutes (30-32 minutes for evenly underbaked brownies; 33-35 minutes for baked edges and a slightly underbaked center; 36-38 minutes for brownies that are evenly baked through). Allow brownies to cool in the pan for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the brownies are cooling, prepare the ganache. Add the chocolate to a small bowl; set aside. Prepare your strong coffee by using the pour-over method from this post (if you don't want to go the pour-over dripper route, you could use a French press, instead). When brewing strong coffee for use in recipes, I like to use 24 grams of coffee for every half cup of water (you only need 1/4 cup of coffee for this recipe but some of it will be absorbed by the ground coffee). Add the coffee and almondmilk to a small saucepan set over medium heat; bring to a boil. Once boiling, pour over chocolate and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Once it looks like the chocolate is melted, add the pinch of salt and give it a good whisk.
To finish the brownies, pour the ganache over top and level with the back of a spoon. Add nuts followed by the sea salt flakes, then transfer the brownies to the refrigerator until the ganache is set. I find it's a lot easier to get a clean slice when the brownies are chilled through (~4 hours in the fridge), but feel free to slice them at room temperature if you couldn't care less about the appearance. Brownies will keep for 4-5 days if stored in an airtight container at room temperature (or for 8-10 if stored in the refrigerator).
Yield: 16 2" brownies