I guess I needed a little bit of a hiatus from blogging. Life happened. But now I hope to get back into it. Back into the kitchen, back into trying new recipes, and back into speaking to the probably now nonexistent people who no longer read my blog since I took so much time off. Helloo!!! (echo, echo!)
Well, this post is definitely for the bakers. I was whiling away an hour at Whole Foods one day last December when I happened across a seat in the cafe with an abandoned New York Times newspaper. Now, I don't normally read the paper during the week but this seemed fortuitous because not only was it a paper which was something new to read, but it was Wednesday which is the Dining and Wine day. So, I flipped through it. There was an interesting article by Mark Bittman about 100 easy to prepare appetizers, an article about one writer's family Christmas cookie tradition.... then I turned the page. There it was in chocolate and raspberry glory - Melissa Clark's Triple Chocolate Brownie Trifle with Raspberries. Up until that point my contribution to Christmas dessert had been in the air, but was now decided. This trifle was too good to pass up.
The trifle involved several steps - making the brownies, making the pudding and making the chocolate whipped cream. Each step was in of itself not too challenging, but all were time consuming especially when considered together. This dessert is truly a labor of love. I had trouble with the pudding. It never really set despite adequate hours in the fridge. But, once mixed into the trifle it wasn't readily apparent and did not hamper anyone's enjoyment of the dessert. The brownies were fudgy, and I did choose to infuse them with rum. The taste was not overwhelming (my brother-in-law who does not drink probably had no idea until I admitted this fact in print) but I would omit were children to be present at the table.
Overall, the dessert was a success. In fact, there were calls from tasters to make this a Christmas family tradition. You never know....
Triple Chocolate Trifle with Raspberries
New York Times, December 19th, 2007
Time: 1 1/2 hours plus 3 hours’ chilling
FOR THE BROWNIES:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, more for greasing pan
3 ounces finely chopped unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons Cognac, rum or bourbon, optional
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 3/4 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (2 cups)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar for whipped cream
1 to 2 pints fresh raspberries.
1. To make brownies, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
2. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Remove pan from heat and stir in chopped chocolate until fully melted. Stir in cocoa and sugar until combined. Slowly add eggs, whisking chocolate mixture constantly, then whisk in vanilla. Fold in flour and salt.
3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until just firm, about 25 minutes (do not overbake). Transfer pan to a rack to cool. If using spirits, prick holes in hot brownies and drizzle evenly over pan.
4. In a large bowl, mix together granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in 3/4 cup milk. In a large saucepan, bring remaining 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream to a boil over medium heat. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into cocoa mixture. Return to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking gently, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. (A simmering bubble or two is O.K., but do not let it boil.)
5. In a medium heat-resistant bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking them constantly, very slowly dribble about half the cocoa-milk mixture into yolks until fully combined. Pour yolk mixture into saucepan with remaining cocoa-milk mixture, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking occasionally, over medium-low heat, until thickened, about 5 minutes. (Do not let mixture come to a simmer. If pan begins to steam thickly, remove from heat for a few moments and stir well before continuing.) Let cool slightly.
6. Melt 5 ounces chopped chocolate with butter. Stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Cool 5 minutes, then fold into thickened egg mixture. Place plastic wrap directly against pudding (to prevent a skin from forming), and chill until set, about 3 hours. (Pudding and brownies can be made up to 5 days ahead, and refrigerated.)
7. Just before assembling, in an electric mixer, beat remaining 2 1/2 cups cream with remaining 5 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar until it forms soft peaks. Scrape down sides and fold in any excess cocoa or sugar.
8. Cut brownies into 1-inch squares. Fit a layer of brownie squares in bottom of a 4-quart trifle, glass, or other bowl. Top with half the pudding, a third of the whipped cream, a third of the remaining chopped chocolate and a third of the raspberries. Repeat layering until all ingredients have been used. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to 24 hours before serving.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings.