For the apple of my eye…

February 13th, 2010

Apples, always there....for something special

What’s best with Valentine’s Day ever-seductive chocolate dessert? This time, the vagabond stirs up a creamy semifreddo of spiced apples with densely chocolate brownies.  Not a brownie fan?  If you prefer… a chocolate clafoutis, or cocoa-chocolate chip cookies…

Devilish Almond Brownies, a one-pan prep couldn’t be easier:

90 g./3 oz. bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped up

75 g./6 T. sweet butter, chopped up

185 g./3/4 cup sugar

2 large fresh eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract + twist of black pepper

30 g./1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped up

50 g./ 1/2 cup flour + 1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 c. chopped candied ginger + 3 T. chopped almonds (plus some for top)

Butter an 8 inch baking pan, flour the bottom. Set oven at 177°F/350°f. and put rack in middle of the oven.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter + chopped dark chocolate, stirring ’til smooth – watch that  it doesn’t scorch.  Take the pan off the heat, let cool and whisk in sugar, vanilla, and eggs one by one, whisking as it turns glossy and smooth, then add the 1 oz. of chopped chocolate.

Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the flour, candied ginger and chopped almonds (reserve 1 T. for topping). Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly, then sprinkle chopped almonds on top. Bake for about 30 + minutes – until the top has puffed slightly and cracked; test with a BBQ skewer, no crumbs should be sticking to it. Let cool completely. Cut and serve with the creamy apples…

A dessert for Valentines, anniversary, or...?

The semifreddo begins a day in advance, making applesauce  in a heavy saucepan:

1 cup of water + 2/3 cup sugar to dissolve + 1/2 vanilla bean, split

4 – 5 apples, peeled & cored, sliced. Include some quince, if possible.

1/2 cup thick crème fraîche, a twist of nutmeg, 1 tsp. ginger

1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped to double volume

1 T. lemon juice

When the apples have cooked in the sugar-syrup until they are translucent, let cool and blend with a wand-blender, add the lemon juice and measure this to 2 cups applesauce. (It can be somewhat chunky if you like the texture). Fold in the crème fraîche and whipped cream, pour into a sorbet pan and freeze for 4 hours – then stir it up with a fork to break ice crystals. Freeze overnight. To serve, slice or scoop out onto plates with  squares or triangles of almond brownies.   The Brownies are adapted from a recipe in Gourmet, 1996. Having double-tested this, the vagabond’s village had an electricity cut just after the brownies were baked -  lucky timing.  But more important, even with only candle light, fragrant blossoms in the air…..

Jasmine in bloom - the ultimate mood enhancer...

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