Monday, April 13, 2015

Classic Fudgy Brownies with Ferrero Rocher and Salted Caramel

Classic Fudgy Brownies with Ferrero Rocher - made April 5, 2015 from The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet
The first half of the month following the end of the quarter is always the busiest time for my group at work. Think of it like tax season for tax accountants except it happens 4 times a year instead of the looming April 15 deadline once a year. The good thing is we know it’s coming and can prepare for it. The bad thing is no matter how much you prepare, there are still a lot of hours needed to get done what needs to get done.

What does not help when you’re working on Easter weekend is for the power to go out on Saturday and if I hadn’t thought about it before, that’s also when it hit home that when I don’t have power, I also don’t have wifi. Fortunately, I had downloaded the files I needed about 20 minutes before the power went out and I could work “offline” on my laptop until my laptop battery died. Gotta love technology. It also doesn’t help when the system on the office end crashes on Sunday and can’t be accessed. And you really, really need it to get your work done. Yeah, it was that kind of weekend.
Fortunately, by Sunday, my power was back on and when I couldn’t get into the system to work and our IT folks were working frantically to get it back up but didn’t have an ETA on when it would be fixed, I decided to channel my stressed state “backwards” into desserts. I needed to eat my emotions, so to speak. And they go down really well when you scarf them with fudgy brownies. In my heightened emotional state (OMG, I need to get into the system! I need to run my reports! My spreadsheets! I need the data!), I also got fancy. Plain ol’ brownies just won’t do during these moments. But bake some Ferrero Rochers into the brownies themselves then drizzle on the salted caramel before eating a piece and well, you have a winner.
Remember, any plain brownie can be gussied up with the add-in(s) of your choice. And there’s no work problem that can’t be solved with a brownie. That’s my mantra.
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, up to 64% cacao, finely chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
12 Ferrero Rochers, unwrapped
Salted caramel for drizzling, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Melt butter and chocolates in the top half of a double boiler set over hot water, stirring until smooth and blended.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking until blended. Add vanilla and stir until combined.
  5. Add flour and salt, stirring until well blended.
  6. Pour into prepared pan and smooth. Arrange Ferrero Rochers evenly on top in 3 rows of 4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs, not raw batter. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  7. Optional: Cut into squares with a Ferrero Rocher in the middle of each piece. Drizzle with salted caramel before serving.

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