Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cappuccino Brownies. They're Really All You Need!

Hi friends,

Oh, I have such good intentions. All day long, as I wander from my house to the Mercantile to the garden to the clothesline and back to the Mercantile, I write this blog in my head. And in my head it is positively brilliant! However, when I finally get time to set it down and post it, I'm just not that dependable. The posts stay in my head, where they eventually dissolve into dust and dreams...

In the meantime, May is almost over. It's been a surprising, delightful and busy month. We've had the great fortune to host some spectacularly lovely guests. The strawberries are bursting out of the garden - bright red and delicious. We've managed to keep the robin's eggs out of the hands of the children; three fat, awkward and beautifully clumsy babies fledged last week. Jody (the innkeeper) and Sandy (the massage therapist and Jody's assistant) are keeping the place spotless and running beautifully. Nik makes bread every Wednesday - the place smells like heaven.

Today, however, is Thursday, and there is very little time for prattling on about life on the prairie. Instead I'm sharing the recipe of today's Mercantile treat: Cappucino Brownies. Holy smokes, you're going to want to name your children after these brownies. 


Photograph by Romulo Yanes
Cappuccino Brownies
Makes about 24 brownies

From Gourmet Magazine, 1991

Three layers of deliciousness; they’re frosted with cream cheese and coated with an espresso-spiked glaze.

This recipe looks like a lot of ingredients and a lot of work - it is neither. And the results are TOTALLY worth it.

Butter and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan
Preheat over to 350°

For the brownie layer
8 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped

For the cream cheese frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, SIFTED
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the glaze
6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water

Make the brownie layer:
  1. In a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water melt the chocolate with the butter and the espresso mixture, stirring until the mixture is smooth. 
  2. Remove the bowl from the heat, let the mixture cool to lukewarm, and stir in the sugar and the vanilla. 
  3. Stir in the eggs, 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  4. Stir in the flour and the salt, stirring until the mixture is just combined, and stir in the walnuts. 
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake the brownie layer in the middle of a preheated 350ºF. oven for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it.
  6. Let the brownie layer cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Make the cream cheese frosting:
  1. In a bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and the butter until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. Add the SIFTED confectioners’ sugar, the vanilla, and the cinnamon, and beat the frosting until it is combined well.
  3. Spread the frosting evenly over the brownie layer and chill the brownies for 1 hour, or until the frosting is firm.

Make the glaze:
  1. In a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water melt the chocolate with the butter, the cream, and the espresso mixture, stirring until the glaze is smooth, remove the bowl from the heat, and let the glaze cool to room temperature.
  2. Spread the glaze carefully over the frosted brownies and chill the brownies, covered, for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Cut the brownies while they are cold with a sharp knife and serve them cold or at room temperature. The brownies keep, covered and chilled, for 3 days.
NOTES: I usually keep some Sharffen Berger chocolate on hand, but had run out (and where the hell are you gonna find that in Rutledge, Mo.?); I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead. I also used salted butter (instead of unsalted). And since Zimmerman's was fresh out of Espresso powder I used Mt. Hagen freeze-dried coffee in its place.  The results were divine.