This post has nothing to do with brownies. But by the end of it, I am probably going to want to bake a pan. (And maybe the interspersed pictures will make us all happier.)
I have been thinking a lot about empathy and tolerance in our world — specifically the lack of it. I see it in war and conflict and politics. I see it on Facebook every day among grown adults. I see it in anonymous comments attached to posts or articles that make me sad and angry and sick. I see it in my daughter’s class and with kids who are 8 or 9. She tells me about kids making nasty comments about her food allergies (“Random Boy X told Random Boy Y to say that he had peanut butter for breakfast so they didn’t have to play with me.”) She tells me about a boy who moved here from another country and is clumsy. And how people make fun of him because of it. I see my daughter’s sadness. I can only imagine the other boy’s.
I think about gay children committing suicide because they feel like they have no hope of ever fitting in or being loved and accepted. I see two other children — both of Asian descent — who are responsible at some level for another child jumping off a bridge. Children who should know a thing or two about being considered “different” in this country.
I think about a pavilion full of Muslim women and children who were having a baby shower the other day when I was at the park with my son. As the acorns fell on the pavilion roof and made shockingly loud bangs, my baby and I laughed and covered our heads. I wondered if the other mothers thought about taking cover in a different way.
I think about myself. It is probably with a huge dose of white girl privilege that I say I didn’t feel accepted in my mostly white, protestant, small town. I was all of those things, but it wasn’t good enough. I think about “friends” who caused pain like it was sport. I think about the people I should have reached out to, if only I would have had enough strength to realize it was OK. I think about who I might be if I would have embraced who I was, rather than fighting it at so many turns. I wonder if I’m still doing it.
I think about what I need to teach my children. I think about the grounding I need to give them so they have the courage to be good. Soccer and piano, be damned. The only thing I wish for my children is the strength to do right in the face of others who do not. I hope that is enough.
Raspberry Stout Truffle Brownies
Makes 2 dozen large, or 3-4 dozen small
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup good quality Stout Beer (I used Otto’s Black Mo Stout)
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
2 T unsalted butter
2 T heavy whipping cream
1-2 T good quality Stout beer
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 11×8-inch metal baking pan* with foil and grease with softened butter.
2. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir in beer and raspberry preserves. When mixture is hot and begins to bubble, turn heat off and stir in 6 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate until melted and well combined. Set aside to cool.
3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
4. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat together granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla for 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, and slowly beat in melted and cooled chocolate mixture until well combined (make sure the chocolate mixture is cool enough so it doesn’t scramble the eggs!). Add in flour mixture until just combined. Don’t overmix.
5. Pour batter into prepared dish. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-22 minutes, or until just set in the middle.
6. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath which will stop the brownies from cooking (and preserve that truffle-like interior) after you take them out of the oven. To do this, fill a larger baking or roasting pan with ice cubes and water (no more than halfway filled up). If you don’t have a larger pan, maybe fill the sink with a bit of ice water.
7. When brownies are done, remove from oven and place pan directly into ice bath. Be sure the brownie pan is sitting on top of the ice or floating so the water doesn’t get into the brownies! Cool the brownies in the ice water bath for at least 10-15 minutes and remove carefully. (See photo)
8. While brownies are cooling, make the ganache. To do this, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cream and Stout. When mixture starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and stir in remaining 6 oz. of chopped chocolate until melted and smooth. Pour ganache over mostly cooled brownies, and smooth the surface, using a rubber spatula. Freeze the brownies until ganache is set, about 15 minutes.
9. Cover tightly and place in refrigerator until ready to serve. Lift the foil-lined brownies out of dish, and slice into bars using a sharp knife (peeling the foil away). They are very rich (much like truffles), so I would suggest cutting them into small, almost bite-sized, pieces. (I made these a day ahead and stored them in the refrigerator — removing about an hour before serving.)
*You really need a metal baking dish for these brownies because a hot glass one will probably crack in the ice water bath.