Posts Tagged ‘cacao nibs’

Big Boy, our resident wordsmith, will occasionally stop me mid-sentence with, “No, that didn’t happen, you figmented it”.

It’s a clever, if (currently) incorrect use of the noun, but it’s actually very appropriate when applied to these brownies. They were indeed a figment of my imagination, or more precisely, my dreams – I woke one morning thinking about figs, rum and dark, dark chocolate.   This is what I ended up with…

Fig, Rum and Cacao Nib Brownies
(adapted from a recipe in David Lebovitz’ Ready for Dessert)

  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 225g dark chocolate, chopped or in callets
  • 150g white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used homemade)
  • 2 large (59g) eggs, at room temperature
  • 40g plain (AP) flour
  • 150g Turkish figs, soaked in rum (see below)
  • 40g cacao nibs

Note: I made these with 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate, but the basic brownie recipe works best with semisweet (I normally use Callebaut 811 with 54% cacao).  With the higher cocoa fat content, the batter has a tendency to split, resulting in a pool of oil on the top of the finished brownies.  70%  seems to hold together – just – but when I tried using a 75%, the mix split completely and had to be thrown away. Having said that, in this instance I really wanted a bittersweet chocolate to offset the figs…

1. The night before, place some Turkish figs in a clean jar, and top it up with rum.   You’ll need seven or eight well-intoxicated figs, although I try and keep a jar full at all times (for emergencies, you understand).

2. Preheat the oven to 160C with fan.  Line a 20cm square pan with parchment paper.  Chop the figs up, discarding the stems.

3. In a medium saucepan, soften the butter, then add the chocolate and stir over low heat until combined and smooth.   Remove the pan from the heat and, using a silicon spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the sugar and vanilla.

4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, working quickly so that you don’t end up with scrambled eggs.  Add the flour, and stir vigorously for one minute (this bit is important) – the mixture will change from grainy to smooth and glossy in that time.

5. Add in the chopped figs and cacao nibs, stirring well.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until just set – about 25 minutes.  Do not overbake.

6.  Cool in the pan, before removing the brownies and cutting into squares for serving.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

. . . . .

This recipe is adapted from Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies in David Lebovitz’ new Ready for Dessert.  Like all of his books, this one is a cracker – full of anecdotes and delicious recipes. I’m keen to try the chocolate cake recipe that he copied off the wall of a restaurant toilet…

Read Full Post »

Pete bought me Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet recently, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  I love reading the words of someone so enthralled in her art, and so specific about her recipes.

Last weekend, I christened the cookbook by trying out three of her recipes.  You can see them all in the photo above – the Queen of Sheba torte, topped with Cocoa Bean Cream and Alice’s Chocolate Sauce.  The thing to note about all these recipes is that they are, as inferred by the book title,  dark dark dark.  The cake is made with 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate, the sauce with 75% Tanzanie origin chocolate, and the cream is infused with bitter cacao nibs and sweetened with just a whisper of sugar.  It was almost too dark for Big Boy, but Pete loved the combination.  I do think the chocolate sauce was probably overkill, but hey, I was on a roll.

. . . . .

Cocoa Bean Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • sugar to taste

Bring the cream and nibs to boil in a small saucepan, remove from heat and cover.  Allow to infuse for 20 minutes.  Strain the cream into a bowl, pushing down on the nibs to extract all the flavour.  Chill the strained cream until cold (at least 6 hours) – if it’s not cold enough, it won’t whip up.  When ready to use, whip the cream, adding sugar to taste.

This is seriously good, a subtle black chocolate flavour with just enough sugar to take the edge off the bitterness.  Slightly reminiscent of coffee cream, but much nicer.  We made this first, and then had to find a cake to go with it – or risk eating it all with a spoon!

A note to Sydneysiders – you can buy Callebaut cacao nibs at Chef’s Warehouse in Surry Hills.  They’re a fun ingredient to play around with.

. . . . .

Queen of Sheba Torte

I asked Pete to choose a cake to try, and this is the one he picked.  It’s very dark, and I personally found the brandy a little overpowering, but Pete loved it, particularly with the cocoa bean cream.  I’ve included metric conversions –  it’s so much easier to work with a set of scales!

  • 6oz (170g) dark chocolate (66% – 70% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 10 tablespoons (155g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) brandy
  • ¹⁄8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup (70g) unblanched whole almonds (I used unblanched almond meal)
  • 2 tablespoons (20g) plain (AP) flour
  • 4 large (59g) eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (165g) sugar
  • ¹⁄8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C, or 175C with fan).

2. Grease an 8″ (20cm) round springform pan, and line the base with parchment paper.

3. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heatproof bowl, either over a pot of gently simmering water, or in the microwave in 30 second increments. Stir until smooth, then stir in brandy and salt.  Set aside to cool.

4. If using whole nuts, pulse them in a food processor with the flour until the mixture is crumbly.  Or, stir together the almond meal and flour in a small bowl.

5. In a large mixing bowl (it needs to be big, as this is where the final mixing takes place), whisk the egg yolks with ½ cup (110g) of sugar until well blended.  Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture.

6. In another large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium until soft peaks form, then gradually sprinkle in the remaining ¼ cup (55g) sugar and beat on high until peaks are stiff but not dry.

7. Scoop a quarter of the egg whites and all the nut/flour mixture on to the top of the chocolate batter, and fold in with a rubber spatula.  Then gently but thoroughly fold in the remaining egg whites.  Pour the batter into the prepared tin.

8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted 1½ inches (4cm) from the edge comes out almost clean, but a toothpick in the centre is still moist and gooey (Ms Medrich is very specific about this!).   Set the pan on a rack to cool completely (it will sink as it cools), before releasing from the pan and setting on a serving platter.  You could dust this with a little icing sugar before serving.

. . . . .

Alice’s Chocolate Sauce

Ok, the cake really didn’t need this, but I was having too much fun with my new cookbook.  I found the recipe as written a little too thick, so I’ve provided the quantities I used here.  Note the absence of any sugar whatsoever – this is a seriously dark sauce!

  • 10 ounces (285g) dark chocolate (54% cacao upwards – I used 75%), finely chopped
  • 1½ (375ml) cups milk, cream or a combination of both (I used 125ml cream and 250ml milk). Note: original recipe specified ½ – 1 cup milk/cream.
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
  • pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Over a double boiler, melt 125ml milk or cream with the chocolate, stirring frequently until the chocolate is smooth.  Now add as much extra liquid needed to achieve your preferred consistency.  If the mixture appears to thicken too much or curdle, add more milk and whisk until it becomes smooth and pourable.

If desired, you can add the butter a little at a time to adjust the intensity of flavour.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.

The sauce will keep for a few days in the fridge, or frozen for up to three months.  I’m planning to use it as a base for dark hot chocolate!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: