Outside in New England, a storm is raging, inexplicably named for what, in my opinion, is easily the most overrated animated feature of all time. Controversial, I know. Our fifth-floor apartment lends a pretty good perspective of the meteorological chaos; a wisened tree in front of me, painted white by the rough hand of Mother Nature, swaying precariously in the wind and snow. It’s moments like these when I wonder, “Is Al Roker touching himself?”
Inside my soul, a comparable, metaphoric storm tests my mettle. And you know what isn’t helping? Being trapped in my apartment by weather. I understand that a snow day is probably a welcome variation to most people’s work-week, but I’m in this apartment a lot. Like, always. I really look forward to those occasions when I’m required to be pretty much anywhere else. Also, I think I’d be way more into this snow thing if there was more whiskey in my diet cherry coke.
I don’t want anyone to think I take weather lightly. You might recall, not so long ago, a post documenting a 5-hour panic attack I had, induced by driving through inclement weather. When it comes down to it, I’m just glad everyone is safe at home, invoking the crafty mixologists within themselves, spending some quality time Googling stuff or revisiting Grand Theft Auto. I’m glad that, together, we can all acknowledge the hyperbole utilized by the television meteorologists of America, and then laugh about it on Facebook. I’m glad my cats are finding this nature-show so fascinating, and that my boyfriend is working from home. Really, this storm is about overcoming adversity only to find yourself snuggled on a couch and eating something cheesey. It’s about family and forgiveness. It’s about finding a smooth segue into this brownie recipe.
You really can’t hate brownies on a day such as this one. In fact, you really can’t hate brownies ever, unless you’re missing some very important soul-part, so all demographics should be able to get on board with me. As I previously mentioned, it’s been a rough time for my brain/heart as of late, so I came up with this recipe for Blood, Sweat, and Tiers (catch my wordplay!?) brownies. They’re a reminder that all of life’s greatest achievements are born of suffering. Also, chocolate and wine and salt. They’re basically the 4 major food groups of innovators (wine counts for two groups).
These bars are two layers of very decadent brownie, followed by a cream filling flavored with red wine, topped with a very dark chocolate ganache and fleur de sel. I used Pinot Noir, though I believe port would work even better, as was my initial plan. However, sometimes you make plans to purchase booze, and God laughs. The combination of chocolate and salt, with the intense tang of the wine filling, makes for a really satisfying indulgence. If you want to eat them while sobbing in your bathtub, they’ll taste even better. That’s a fact.
As a timely bonus, isn’t that wine filling just the most beautiful shade of Valentine’s passion? Get your bookmarks ready, ladies! I heard dessert is a really effective cure for single.
Rich Salted Brownies
4 oz Unsweetend chocolate
1 cup (two sticks) Unsalted butter
2 cups Sugar
½ tsp Salt
½ cup Flour
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9-11 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
In a medium pot on low heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring constantly as not to burn the chocolate. Once melted, mix in sugar and salt. Remove from heat, and whisk in eggs. If you are feeling diligent, I recommend whisking the eggs separately before whisking them into the chocolate. Mix in flour, making sure to beat out lumps. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the center of the brownies has set. Cool to room temperature.
Red Wine Cream
16 oz Red wine
1 oz Butter, softened
1 tbsp Lemon juice
2 cups Confectioner’s sugar
In a medium pot, bring wine to a boil and reduce down to about 1 ½ oz of liquid. Beat softened butter, then slowly add wine reduction and lemon juice. Next, beat in confectioner’s sugar on low speed. The end result should beat paste-like, but not crumbly. If you need to adjust the texture, add a very small amount of water until the mixture becomes spreadable, but remains stiff.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
5 oz Half and half
2 oz (or 1/4 cup) Sugar
3 oz Unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp Butter, softened
A generous pinch of salt
Fleur de sel, or coarse sea salt, for garnish
Bring half and half and sugar to a boil, making sure sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and add chocolate, stirring until dissolved. If necessary, you may put the mixture back on very low heat to further dissolve. Add softened butter and stir until melted. Allow ganache to cool and set slightly before using.
Remove brownies from pan by cutting around the edges and flipping over onto a cutting board. Cut the brownies in half and set one half aside. Using a spatula, spread Red Wine Cream over the first half of the brownies. Place the second half on top of the cream. Carefully return brownies to the sheet pan (this will make for easy cleaning). Once the ganache has cooled and is beginning to set up, but still fluid, slowly pour over the brownies. Chill in the fridge for about twenty minutes, them remove to cut into desired shapes and sizes. These brownies are pretty dense, so I recommend smaller bites Lastly, sprinkle the top with fleur de sel or coarse sea salt, as much or as little as pleases you.