Saturday, April 08, 2006

Grand Marnier Brownies

Mmm, mmm good.

This recipe was a challenge. I wanted to create something that would be eligible for the next Sugar High Friday; this month’s theme requires that all desserts incorporate liquor into the recipe.

My initial thought was baba rhum. But then I read Chandra’s instructions: “let's try to stay away from the ever popular rum cake...”

Damn it.

Ok, on to brownies. A friend’s sister makes delicious frosted mint brownies – the base is cakey, the frosting is nicely minted – so I thought I could simply substitute the peppermint extract with Crème de Menthe. But I first needed make a brownie base. I didn’t care for the first one I tried, so I upped the chocolate factor. The brownie recipe below is the result.

Then I moved to the frosting. Adding a teaspoon of Crème de Menthe in place of the extract did nothing – the frosting still tasted like confectioner’s sugar. So I kept adding liquor until I wound up with a something that couldn’t be set near an open flame.

At that point, I decided to go in a different direction.
How about a chocolate orange frosting flavored with Grand Marnier? Finally – finally! – a winner.

Alone the brownies are great; with melted chocolate and cocoa in the batter, plus chocolate chips to up the ante, how could you go wrong?. But top them with chocolate orange frosting – which gains fruity notes and brightness from the orange zest and juice, decadence from yet more chocolate and cocoa powder, and sophistication from the Grand Marnier – and you’ve got a fantastic brownie. Really, the word brownie doesn’t do this dessert justice. It’s a broWOWnie (…or something far more clever).

Go on. Make it for your next dinner party or date that you want to impress, and watch people fall on the floor with jubilation.

Grand Marnier Brownies

For the brownies:

1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
12 oz good-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or chips*
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (or 2 tsp. vanilla and 2 tsp. Grand Marnier)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line two 8-inch square baking pans with foil, allowing for 2 inches of overhang. Grease foil, excluding overhang.

Place butter and 12 oz. chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute at 40-percent power; stir. Continue microwaving at 30-percent power in 30 second intervals, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate and butter have melted. Stir in cocoa and let cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Place sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until pale, about 4 minutes. Add chocolate mixture; beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat, scraping down sides of bowl until well blended. Fold in cup of chocolate chips.

Scoop batter into prepared pans (it will be very thick), smoothing the top as best you can with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the brownies comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 35 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and then, using the foil lift brownies out of pan. Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

For the frosting:

3 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
Water as needed
3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1-1/2 tsp grated orange peel
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tsp. Grand Marnier

Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at 40-percent power for 1 minute; stir. Continue microwaving at 30-percent power in 30 second intervals, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate has melted. Cool until lukewarm.
Mix cocoa powder and orange juice until smooth and thick but pourable, adding water by teaspoonfuls if necessary.
Beat butter, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, and orange peel in large bowl to blend. Add melted chocolate, vanilla, and salt; beat until smooth. Scrape sides of bowl; beat in cocoa mixture. Gradually add remaining powdered sugar and beat until frosting is smooth, scraping bowl’s sides frequently. Add Grand Marnier.

To assemble:
When brownies are completely cool, lift out of pans using foil; peel away foil and throw away. Smooth frosting over the brownies; garnish with chocolate curls, stripes made with melted chocolate, or orange zest. Cut into small squares, eat, and die happy.
Grade: A+

*I used Ghirardelli’s 60% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate chips throughout this recipe.

1 comment:

Ziz said...

oooh my goodness those look SO GOOD! :)