Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tech-La-La - French Chocolate Brownies : TWD

It's been a hectic last week in Casa Shebake. I almost considered opting out of this week's challenge, until I saw it was brownies. I spent the weekend at my brother's house in Michigan to partake in my future SIL's bachelorette party. On top of that, I finally broke down and ordered an upgrade to my computer collection. The computer I usually use for every day stuff, photo editing, etc, is about 8 years old. I've tossed in enough upgrades and maintenance to make it last, but I was outgrowing it, especially with my DSLR upgrade last winter. So I upgraded to a nice shiny new quad core system with 2 fresh new Hard drives for the OS and storage.

Of course, even when I save time by ordering a computer pre-built, the first thing I do out of the box is rip it open and customize it. In this case, It needed one of the SATA cables replaced (too short), and to put in my blu ray drive/burner. I also needed to copy over a lot of my older files, so that whole process has been pretty consuming of the last few days.

Back to the brownies, I'm not a big raisin fan, so I started to think how to mix it up a little. I thought of a cheesecake topping, or a glaze, but the idea of flambeing something again was exciting, so I finally settled for some thawed blueberries I had in the freezer.

The batter was quick to put together, though with the suddenly warm weather, the butter ended up quite soft within an hour or so, as compared to the 1/2 day it takes in winter.

Baking took closer to 1 hr 20 minutes, and the top formed a quite crisp crust that crackled when I cut it. Inside, the brownies were quite moist and decadent, with a bright punch of flavor when you get a blueberry.

French Chocolate Brownies

- makes 16 brownies -
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup Blueberries, fresh or thawed from frozen
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the blueberries in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the moisture almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the blueberries aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the blueberries along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.


Prudy said...

Beautiful pic of the blueberry brownies and the opera cake too. I can never pass up brownies!

Nikki57 said...

Your brownies look great!

Anonymous said...

The blueberries sound so intriguing, great job!

Kbg said...

Nice write-up and photos...they look really nice. It is such fun to see everyone's versions of this one recipe...all the same, but somehow a little different!

SiHaN said...

blueberries! i'm going to try that for sure!

was in for a real chocolatey treat this time so i omitted the raisins. But looks like you had a great time with yours!

Engineer Baker said...

Blueberries sound delicious, and I love the crackly crust!

ostwestwind said...

Your brownies look perfect, a nice idea to substitute the raisins with blueberries.

Ulrike from Küchenlatein

PheMom said...

Nice job!

Melissa said...

Good idea with the blueberries!

Rebecca said...

Blueberries and chocolate? I'll have to try that.

Mary Ann said...

yummy blueberries! They look awesome

Di said...

I'm glad it worked out for you to make this week's recipe. I like your first picture, plated with the blueberries.

Christine said...

Your brownies look great!

Jess said...

Blueberry brownies...I like the sound of that!

Mara said...

oooh i love that...flavor punch from the blueberries...awesome! they look great! and i love your cutie opera cake.

BAKE-EN said...

Beautiful pictures, I especially liked the photograph of the brownies in the oven.

noskos said...

Job well done, they look great! The brownies as well as your new computer :-)

Gretchen Noelle said...

Blueberries in chocolate sound scrumptious! Love seeing *inside* your computer, love that you just take things apart like that, that is great!

CB said...

ooohhh blueberries! Yum!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

The Kitchen Vixen said...

great looking brownies! who knew there was more than one techie baker;)

Shari said...

Love the blueberry idea! Good luck with your new computer!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Girl, you are tech savvy! Very impressive! I've never tasted chocolate and blueberries together, but I'd like to!

Garrett said...

Mmmmm...just looking at that batter, makes me want to eat it straight.

Sharon said...

Yum, what a great idea to use blueberries! They look great!

Jaime said...

they look great; i got the super thick crust, too

blueberries sound delish!

Jacque said...

Mmmm, blueberries sound wonderful! and congrats on the new computer (I let my hubby take care of that).

...and you've been tagged for a meme. You can go to my blog and see how to proceed. Take care!