Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate and Szechuan Peppercorn Brownies

After seeing a recipe in Food and Wine for chocolate and Szechuan peppercorn brioche, I became obsessed with this combination.  Previously, I had only seen this spice used in savory foods, and here it was paired with chocolate!  The chocolaty goodness of brownies seemed like a great place to marry the flavors, and infusing the butter and the ganache with the peppercorns doesn't make the flavor too overpowering.

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, broken
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon espresso
3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease an 8x8 baking dish.  In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the peppercorns and the pieces of cinnamon stick.  Meanwhile, in a double boiler or microwave, melt the unsweetened chocolate and semisweet chocolate together.  Stir in the espresso to the melted chocolate.  Once the butter stops foaming and you can see browned bits at the bottom of the pan (about 5 minutes), take off heat and remove the peppercorns and cinnamon stick.  It may be easier to strain the contents of the pan and then return just the butter to it.  Stir the sugars, milk, vanilla, and salt into the butter in the pan.  Then stir in the cocoa powder and chocolate and espresso mixture.  Beat in the eggs, and then lastly, stir in the flour.  Bake in greased pan for about 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.  Feel free to underbake them a bit.  Once brownies are cooled, spread ganache.  I like to put them in the refrigerator to firm up the ganache. 

To make the ganache, bring the heavy cream and peppercorns to a simmer in a small pot. Strain the peppercorns and stir in semisweet chocolate chips. 

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