When it comes to food, Valentine’s day might just be my favorite holiday, for, like countless other gourmands, I am a bona fide chocoholic. I keep extra dark chocolate bars in my cupboards, breaking off squares for a “fix” after weeknight meals. My eye zeroes in on the word “chocolate” on any dessert menu. And, for my latest book, Soup Nights, over a third of the recipes in the desert chapter are prepared with some type of chocolate.
One such dessert, Chocolate Cashew Brownies with Chocolate Crème Fraîche Glaze, is what I am making for Valentine this year. Rich and decadent, these confections are prepared with semisweet chocolate, plenty of butter, and a touch of crème fraîche. And, in place of more traditional nuts (think almonds, pecans, walnuts), these call for cashews. The recipe is my version of one for French brownies that I spotted in France a few years ago. Continue reading
One of my favorite parties of the year is the late fall dinner my husband and I host for his freshman seminar class at Amherst College. The students, bright, lively, and engaging, come from around the country as well as from several continents. This year the group hailed from New York to California and from cities in Ethiopia, Uruguay, and Viet Nam. So, I decided to plan a menu with global accents, and offered as openers baked Medjool dates filled with Gorgonzola Dolce and almonds, followed by vegetarian Greek moussaka and French daube de boeuf à la provençale. All-American brownies, prepared with an unexpected flavor combination, made a fine finale.
The dark chocolate, fudgy brownies, studded with chopped pistachios and scented with fragrant orange peel, quickly disappeared and were given a thumbs up by the crowd. I was delighted since I had spent several days tweaking the recipe, replacing traditional nuts with pistachios and omitting vanilla in place of grated orange zest. Extra festive touches included decorating the brownies with a zigzag pattern of ganache and adding a sprinkle of finely chopped verdant pistachios.
These brownies are petite and slim perfect for a holiday indulgence. A single recipe yields 16 squares and can be stored for several days in the fridge. I was so pleased with their popularity that I’m making another batch for a neighborhood potluck this weekend!
A fellow food writer recently asked me to name several items that are always on my holiday grocery list. Butter was at the top, followed by eggnog, beef tenderloin, and cranberries. Somehow I forgot to mention chocolate, nuts, Medjool dates, and champagne, other favorites that make frequent appearances in my grocery cart.This is the season of celebrations, so why not a few indulgences!?
Dark Chocolate Cashew Brownies are definitely a guilt-free pleasure: rich, decadent, and
addictive, these confections are made with a pound of semisweet chocolate, plenty of butter, and a touch of crème fraiche (France’s brilliant answer to sour cream). Oh, and did I mention that roasted cashews are stirred into the batter as well? Continue reading