Busy weekend! I actually made these brownies twice – once on Friday morning, minus the toppings (and without the cream cheese — oops!) and once on Sunday afternoon (today). As I write, the second batch is on its last round of cooling in the fridge. Hopefully I’ll write this up quickly enough that I can go grab a piece before it’s time for bed. On Thursday, I made a vague plan to make these brownies on Friday, for my monthly baking delivery to my friend Gilad. Trouble was, I was meeting my husband for lunch, near where Gilad now works, and I didn’t have all the ingredients I needed. I was primarily missing chocolate. You know, the important part of a brownie. Anyway, long story short, after I got home from a grocery run, and looked more closely at the recipe, I knew there was no way I’d get all the components made in one morning. I was lucky to have just the brownies cool enough to put in a container by lunch! I figured it wouldn’t make any difference to my friend, though, and he’d be happy with the brownies on their own. So, this post is a combination of pictures from the first batch, which I made on Friday, and the second batch, which was made today.
What did I do in between? Super mini 16 year high school reunion, after attending a concert at the Jackson-Triggs winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The first step to a good brownie is good chocolate. Melt butter & chocolate together, then beat in sugar and a little bit of cocoa.
Then (if you remember) add cream cheese, followed by a bit of flour & salt, then pecans.
After baking the brownies, maybe you wrap them up and take them to downtown Kitchener, where you fail to coordinate in advance with your friend, and end up walking down the street to lunch carrying a plastic container full of slightly-warm brownies. Randomly run into your friend on the street, hand him the brownies, keep walking, and have his co-workers all look at him in confusion, as one of them says “You know that’s how drug exchanges are normally made, right?,” immediately in front of a cop on a bicycle. Or, you know, you could actually plan ahead, and drop them off at your friend’s office, but where’s the fun in that?
If you want to keep going and enhance (enrich?) these already delicious brownies, you can add a white chocolate buttercream. This starts with a white chocolate custard, which consists of, as you might (or might not) guess, white chocolate, butter, and eggs. That’s cooked to slightly thickened (160 F), then the mix is gradually added to a bit of unsalted butter.
That makes a nice fluffy and delicious buttercream as seen above. Spread that on the cooled brownies.
Then, make a chocolate ganache glaze. Chop up chocolate fine (use the food processor).
Add scalded cream.
Let that sit for 5 minutes to melt the cream, then stir in some vanilla.
Spread on the brownies. Chill. Write blog post. Consume.
The buttercream layer, on a chocolate base, topped with the ganache, reminds me very much of a Nanaimo bar. And if you haven’t heard of a Nanaimo bar, you’re probably not Canadian. With Nanaimo bars, the base isn’t exactly a brownie, and the custard layer isn’t quite a buttercream, and the top’s more of a butter/chocolate combo than a ganache, but… really, this is a pretty good substitute. Heck, who am I kidding? I’d almost say this is better than a Nanaimo bar. And that’s kind of heresy, here, in the Great White North. Ok, I’ll take a little step back and say maybe not better. Different. They definitely both have their place in a well-balanced dessert diet. I can confidently say that I prefer this over a chocolate brownie with chocolate frosting. Or do I? Gah! Too many yummy slightly different things. Can’t compare. Like comparing apples with slightly different apples. I’m just going to go with: Yum!