Chocolate Indulgence for Valentine!

Chocolate Cashew Brownies 1 3744x2978When 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.

Two-tiered with a dense, chocolate bottom layer studded with nuts and bits of chocolate and a ganache topping that includes crème fraiche, these brownies would be perfect to enjoy on Cupid’s day! Without guilt!


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Chocolate Cashew Brownies with Chocolate Crème Fraîche Glaze

12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, plus more for the baking pan
10 oz semisweet chocolate
2 large eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup flour
6 tbsp cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
1/2 cup cashews, roasted and coarsely chopped (see cooking tip)

6 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup crème fraîche (see market note)

1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit.

2. For brownies, chop 6 ounces of the chocolate and place it and the butter in a heavy, medium saucepan. Chop the remaining 4 ounces of the chocolate and reserve to fold into the brownie batter. Set the saucepan over very low heat. Whisk constantly, until the chocolate and butter have melted and mixture is smooth. Remove and cool to room temperature.

3. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl, until mixture is thickened, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the melted chocolate mixture, then the flour and cocoa powder. Stir in the cashews and the reserved 4 ounces of chopped chocolate.

4. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until a tester comes out just clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold, 1 hour or longer.

5. For glaze, place chocolate in a medium, heavy saucepan over low heat and whisk constantly until melted and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the confectioner’s sugar and the crème fraîche. Pour glaze over the top of the brownies and smooth with a spatula. Refrigerate brownies until glaze is set, 1 hour or longer.

6. Cut the brownies into16 squares or if you want smaller portions, cut into 20.servings. (Brownies can be prepared 2 days ahead; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Makes 16 brownies

Cooking tip: Trader Joe’s sells bags of roasted unsalted cashews. If you cant find them sold that way, toast cashews by placing them on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast them in a 350 degree F oven until lightly browned, about 6 minutes or longer. Watch carefully. Remove and cool.

Market Note; Crème fraîche, a thick cream used in French cooking, is available in the dairy section of supermarkets. If unavailble, whisk together 1 cup heavy cream and 1/3 cup sour cream in a medium non-reactive bowl. Let stand at room temperature until thickened, 6 hours or longer. Cover and refrigerate. (Crème fraîche can be stored up to 1 week, covered, in the refrigerator.) Makes about 1 1/3 cups.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2016

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