Dark Cocoa Brownies with Swiss Meringue on Top
As a forever romantic and passionate person I have the tendency to gather things that provoke in me any emotion. I don’t do this with many items. It’s truly the ones that unexpectedly cross into my sight and cheerfully smile at me.
If you ask how I started to create my pantry many years ago, I would have to say it was this same way. Since most pantry ingredients could last a couple of years (lets face it, with pantry ingredients we can always get away with a few extra months of those expiration dates), I feel the liberty to get some products that just make my soul smile back at them, and I can imagine myself creating a recipe with it, even if I’m not planning on using it right away. Yes, as a marketing professional I can tell you I’m the perfect marketing cliché. Still, I don’t care…
That’s what happened with a tin of dark cocoa powder I bought a while ago, when the popularization of dark chocolate started to spread around. It has been hanging in my pantry for a while now, seeing new friends come and old ones go. It’s chocolate so needless to say it gets along with anything around.
Still, I hadn’t committed to making any recipe using dark cocoa powder as the main ingredient until I discovered this Black Cocoa Brownies recipe from the Bake from Scratch Magazine. Dark cocoa brownies is the treat you didn’t know you loved that much. To make them extra decadent, because why not, I topped the brownies with a soft Swiss meringue. This is of course completely optional. Both are soft and sweet but each in a different way. The combination is a delicious bomb!
Try them and let me know how it goes!!
What items are hidden in your pantry, waiting for their 15 minutes of fame?
1. If you don’t have a proper double boiler, like me, use a medium to large glass mixing bowl and place it on a large skillet.
2. Do not over mix chocolate and butter mixture. You don't want the oil to separate from the chocolate. If the water suddenly boils faster, drop the heat down a bit to keep the water simmering.
3. When making the meringue, make sure the aluminum ring serves you as a seat booster for the mixing bowl. The bottom will touch the water but that’s ok, even 1 inch of the bowl touching the water is ok. What you don't want is to submerge most of the bowl.
4. It’s important to keep stirring the egg whites with the sugar until they are frothy and can hold that texture. After that they are ready to go.
Dark Cocoa Brownies with Swiss Meringue
Dark chocolate (+60% cacao) morsels or chips – 2⅓ cup, divided
Unsalted butter, cubed – 1 cup (2 sticks)
Raw sugar – 1 ½ cup
Dark brown sugar – 1 cup
Unbleached all purpose flour – 1 ½ cup
Dark cocoa powder – ¾ cup
Fine sea salt – 2 Tsp
Large eggs – 5
Vanilla extract – 1 TBSP
Swiss Meringue Topping
Eggs, medium to large – 5
Granulated sugar – 1 ⅓ cup
Fine sea salt – ¼ Tsp
Cream of tartar – ¼ Tsp
Vanilla bean (optional) – 1 pod
Make the brownies: Preheat oven to 350°.
Line with parchment paper a 13” x 9” pan, letting the excess of paper extend over the sides of the pan.
In the top of a double boiler (see notes) over medium low heat place 1 ⅓ cup of the chocolate chips or morsels and butter and bring the water to simmer. Using a silicon spatula or wooden spoon, mix occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted. As soon as the chocolate is melted and there are still a few pieces of solid butter left, add ½ cup of any of the sugars and stir until it incorporates with the chocolate and butter mixture. Repeat the process with all the sugar, removing the bowl from the heat at the end. Set aside to cool down the mixture.
In the meantime, in a medium bowl whisk together the flour, dark cocoa powder and salt. In a medium bowl slightly beat the eggs and reserve.
When the chocolate has cooled down, add half of the beaten eggs and whisk until combined. Repeat with the rest of the eggs. Whisk in the vanilla. Fold in flour mixture until a few bits of it remain, making sure there’s no dry flour at the bottom of the bowl. Fold in remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top looks dry and when you insert a toothpick through the center it comes out with melted chocolate but crumbs look cooked.
Let it cool in the pan. Pull it out using as handles the excess of the parchment paper. Top with meringue, powdered sugar or just cut it into squares.
Make the Swiss meringue: Fill with water a wide pot through half. Heat in medium high to bring the water to a soft boil.
Cut a large piece of aluminum foil and roll it from the longest side. Make a ring of about the same size of the bottom of the mixer bowl.
Bring the heat down to medium. Place the aluminum ring on the water and place the bowl over the ring (see notes). Clip the thermometer on the side of the bowl. Using a silicon spatula stir frequently, until the thermometer hits 175° and the egg whites and sugar mixture is frothy.
Immediately attach the bowl to the base of the mixer with the whisk attachment already in place. Whisk in high speed for 5 minutes, until the meringue is glossy and soft. Spread immediately.