Thursday, February 13, 2014

Double Creme Brownies

A French cooking class......experience in rolling cakes.....and a palette for rich, chocolate sweets led me in my culinary pursuits to Bouche de Noel (Christmas log).  A combination of chocolate butter cream, chocolate cake and vanilla crème, layer up to create this French Noel dessert that serves as my inspiration for this brownie recipe.  Charming and appealing variations of "Bouche" were set center stage in the beautiful  windows of the village patisseries of the Alsace region of France.  We sampled an assortment on Christmas day during a holiday visit, one filled with hazelnut buttercream and sprouting meringue mushrooms, but the textures were airy and not sweet enough.  Dare I suggest that my version, though French, is more in line with the American sweet tooth and toleration for rich desserts.  (I have always been puzzled by the "too rich" excuse proclaimed in an air of disgust by finicky consumers.  Is there any such thing as too rich?)  I make one Bouche de Noel each year - a tradition on Christmas Day and though it requires several steps, pots and mixing bowls, it is a labor of love for family and for self.  Could it be my favorite dessert...the pressure is too great to identify just one.  But there are 363 other days in the year....what a shame to relegate this sublime sweet to just one.  And then inspiration, "Why not make "Bouche" more accessible as a brownie!"  It worked beautifully - a layer of ooey-gooey brownie, covered with vanilla creme which temporizes the chocolate then frosted with the chocolate buttercream - the real kind made from eggs, butter and candy syrup.  Powers of description fail me as to how delicious they are - a roll of the eyes must suffice.  Once you've prepared them you'll understand .
  




Double Crème Brownies

Brownie Layer:
1 cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup flour
2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

-In a large mixing bowl, blend melted butter with the sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.  Mix in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and stir just until blended.  Spread the batter in a 13 x 9 inch, greased glass baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the brownies, just comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.

Vanilla Creme:
3 egg yolks                                 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract              ¼ cup flour
1 cup boiling whole milk      ½ cup heavy cream 

-Place the 3 egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla in
             bowl.  Beat until light and mixture ribbons
             when the beater is lifted.  Add the ¼ cup flour
             and blend together.  Add the milk in a stream
             stirring with a wire whisk. 

-Transfer the mixture to a saucepan set over moderate heat; stir constantly until the sauce reaches a boil.  Reduce heat and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes longer.  Remove from the heat.  Cover and cool to room temperature. 

-Whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks.  Fold the whipped cream into the custard.  Chill until ready to use. 

Chocolate Butter Cream:
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate            3 egg yolks
2 oz.bittersweet chocolate            ½ pound soft butter
1/3 cup sugar                                    
¼ cup water 

-Place the chocolate in a small bowl and melt it in microwave for 1 minute at 50% power.  Stir and return to microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again.
If still not melted, repeat for another 30 seconds.  Let cool 5-10 minutes.

-Combine the 1/3 cup sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Boil until the syrup reaches the softball stage (236 to 238 degrees) on candy thermometer.

-Place the 3 egg yolks in a mixing bowl and begin beating with an electric mixer. Pour the hot sugar syrup over the yolks a few drops at a time while
beating at medium speed.  Increase speed to high and beat for 5 minutes, until mixture is thick and pale yellow.  Reduce speed to low and add the ½
pound butter, a little at a time.  Beat until the mixture is smooth.  Add the melted chocolate to the buttercream and beat until smooth.  Set aside.
 
To Assemble:
     Spread the vanilla crème over the brownies and chill for about 30 minutes.  Spread the chocolate buttercream over the vanilla crème layer and swirl and peak with a spatula or the back of a spoon.  Cover loosely with foil and chill for at least 30 minutes.  Cut into 2 inch squares and serve. (Make be stored loosely covered in refrigerator for several days.  Let sit out for
30 minutes before serving if well chilled to allow the chocolate buttercream to soften.)

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