Barcelona Brownies

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Barcelona Brownies with Chocolate GanacheWhen I was offered a copy of Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, I jumped at the chance to take it. It’s written by Rose Levy Beranbaum (think The Cake Bible) so I knew would be filled with amazing recipes, and each recipe has a photo which is something I love. I hate not knowing what the finished product is supposed to look like. Another perk–she lists both volume and weight measurements in her cookbook!

I’ve already decided the next recipe I’m going to try is the Apple Caramel Charlotte because it is just so stunning. You can see a short video of Rose discussing her book and basic baking tips here. OK, on to the brownies.

If you’re a chocolate fan then these brownies are for you. They’re rich, yet light and moist and the ganache “plugs” are a delicious treat, but totally optional. If you don’t want to fill the inside with ganache you can always use it on top instead. The original recipe calls for a financier mold, but I used a mini muffin tin and it worked out just fine. I ended up with 24 brownies.

Photos of the process here.

Ganache Ingredients
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream at room temperature

Brownie Ingredients
2/3 cup pecans, broken or chopped medium-coarse (I omitted these)
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably no higher than 62% cocoa mass
6 scant tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, preferably fine quality Dutch-processed (I used Hershey)
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ounces cream cheese, cut in pieces
1/2 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Ganache Preparation
Melt the chocolate in a microwave, using 15 seconds bursts on high power and stirring several times, or in a double boiler over hot but not simmering water, stirring occasionally. Add the cream and stir gently until the mixture is smooth and dark. If necessary (if the cream was too cold and the mixture not entirely smooth), return it to the heat until totally fluid and uniform in color.

Brownie Preparation

  1. Prepare financier molds, preferably silicone (I used mini muffin pans), with baking spray with flour or shortening and flour.
  2. 20 minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F.
  3. Place the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes or until very lightly browned. Cool completely.
  4. In a double boiler over hot water or microwave-proof bowl, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring 2 or 3 times.
  5. Beat in the cocoa, then the sugar, beating until it is incorporated. (If you are doing this by hand, use a whisk.) Beat in the eggs and vanilla. When incorporated, beat in the cream cheese until only small bits remain. Add the flour and salt and mix only until the flour is fully moistened. Stir in the nuts and scrape the batter into a piping bag or freezer-weight zipseal bag. (You can use a spoon but it’s a lot faster and easier to use a pastry bag or zipseal bag with one corner cut.) (I’m lazy and didn’t feel like cleaning the pastry bag so I used a small cookie scoop.)
  6. If using a silicone mold, set it on a baking sheet and pipe the batter into the cavities, filling them about three-quarters full (1.5 ounces/45 grams in each). With a small off-set spatula or the back of a spoon, smooth the tops.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the batter has set. The batter will puff and rise a little above the top of the cavities but sinks slightly on cooling. An instant read thermometer should register about 194 F. and if pressed lightly with a finger tip they will spring back.
  8. As soon as the brownies are removed from the oven, grease the end of a wooden chopstick or dowel (1/4 inch diameter) and insert it into the brownie, at 3 evenly-spaced intervals, all the way to the bottom, twisting slightly as you insert and withdraw it. Fill the holes with the ganache until slightly rounded above the surface of the brownie.
  9. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely. The ganache will sink in as it cools and more ganache can be added, to fill in any depressions, as long as the brownie is still warm enough to melt it. (If necessary, you can set the brownies under a lamp to heat the ganache puddles and make them smooth.) If making the optional ganache plugs, allow it to sit at room temperature until the puddles are firm to the touch. Then invert the mold of if using silicone, push each out with your finger pressed against the bottom of the mold. (If not making the ganache the brownies can be removed after 10 minutes of cooling.)
  10. Store wrapped airtight in plastic wrap and stored in an airtight container: 1 week at room temperature, 1 month refrigerated, or several months frozen. Try eating them frozen or chilled if you like a chewy brownie, room temperature for a softer creamier texture.

Recipe adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.