Brownie. Puddle. Yes, brownie puddle. Don’t those two words together just make you smile? They should! Here is another dessert from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s book, “The Pie and Pastry Bible”. It’s nearly a chocolate tart, almost a brownie, and definitely impossible to resist. The brownie-like cake is mixed with pecans, then baked. As soon as it comes out of the oven you make little holes all over it and fill those holes with more chocolate. Oh, I wish I hadn’t eaten the last piece this afternoon, I could go for another piece now!
Please read Ms. Beranbaum’s book for full instructions and details; here is the method I took to follow her recipe.
1 cup pecan pieces
14 TB butter
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, Lindt or Valrhona is recommended but I could only find Hershey’s chocolate at the store and that did the trick.
1/2 cup plus 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1 cup plus 3 TB sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup flour
a pinch of salt
Ganache: 2 ounces chocolate and 1/3 cup heavy cream at room temperature
You’ll need a tart pan for this brownie puddle. It should have a removable bottom. First grease it, cover the bottom with a circle of parchment, then lightly grease again.
1. Lightly toast the pecan pieces by baking them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 325 degrees F. Toss the pecans every few minutes.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a glass bowl sitting over some nearly boiling water in a pan (double boiler method). Stir the mixture as it melts.
3. I used a whisk although an electric mixer would be fine too. Combine the cocoa and then the sugar into the chocolate & butter. Add the eggs one at a time then pour the vanilla. Finally combine the cream cheese. Once these ingredients are well-incorporated mix in the flour and salt. The recipe now calls for you to add the nuts to the chocolate. That is what I intended to do but completely forgot until I put the pan into the oven and saw my pecans sitting on the countertop. I added them to the top and they made a wonderful crunchy layer. I liked my mistake enough to do it intentionally next time around.
4. Pour the batter into the pan, put a cookie sheet under the pan during cooking. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Now make the ganache. Ganache sounds like such a fancy chef word so I was delighted to learn that it is simply a mixture of chocolate and heavy cream. Melt the chocolate first then add in the cream.
Remove the tart pan from the oven and make holes all over the brownie using the end of a wooden spoon. I started at the edge and made a spiral of holes every inch or so until I made it to the center. Either spoon the ganache into the holes or pipe it in using a zip loc bag with a small tip cut at the corner. My chocolate ganache was quite thin and ran right out of the bag when I cut the corner but this didn’t cause any trouble. Just move around your brownie quickly and let the chocolate fill in the holes. You are adding chocolate to more chocolate—you can’t go wrong!
As soon as the chocolate set I tried a piece and loved it but thought the chocolate brownie texture was even better after a day or two in the refrigerator. It is almost fudge-like—very rich and dense.