Chocolate-Covered Espresso Bean Brownies

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A hundred calling objects

Many things are calling for my attention. There are bumblebees buzzing beyond the window, robins hunting for a meal along the spring grass. I make warm macaroni into cool macaroni salad with an unhealthy heaping of mayonnaise, paprika, garlic salt and powder and onion powder. A few cans of tuna slip inside, while a crunch of onion never makes it. The aluminum bowl atop a saucepan of water at a rolling boil—a makeshift double-boiler of sorts—starts to make a few uncomfortable sounds and that pulls me away from the dining table. The dining table is covered in a light dusting of flour and salt, heavy ceramic mixing bowls, glass jars and assorted baking paraphernalia. There is no obvious order to the arrangement, more or less a game of “Is this bowl too large to fit there?” and that makes it all the more fun.

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I do not bake in sterility. To be transparent on the subject would be to disclose I often dust our antique dining table with flour even if the recipe calls for no flour. Baking is a lush task: Metal whisk screeching on ceramic bowl, wet egg falling from humid shell, sweet chocolate from wax paper. There is a sensuality in crafting something so organic, and I regularly lust for the days in my maturity where I tend to the garden, paint a deck and make lunch for a few.

Today though, the moments went fast. The morning I spent cleaning the house, the afternoon I remember in flashes. Mum left for the day, leaving me to finish the macaroni salad for dinner. A recipe had caught my eye in Kinfolk, chocolate-covered espresso bean brownies, and so that was on the agenda as well. After a shower, both tasks were seemingly completed in tandem. When one needed my attention, the other waited patiently for my return. Multitasking is a rouse; never can we devote our attention to more than one task, and even then our minds are never fully in-the-moment.

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Missing steps

Brownies. Now to be honest, any dessert mentioned with a full-stop following will always connote a deep-down desire within me. Rich and flakey, occasionally heavy, brownies are like a compact cake. Never a fan of brownies from a box or the store, brownies to me have to be made in a home oven from simple ingredients otherwise the texture is too cake-y. ‘Simple ingredients’ like flour and sugar, baking powder and eggs are fine and well, but this recipe proposes a welcome addition: Coffee. In my books that means these brownies are perfectly acceptable to be consumed at any point in the day, and my family and I can testify to the validity in that statement. Chocolate-covered espresso bean brownies are a good idea.

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This recipe comes from Kinfolk’s tenth issue, and in the support of independent magazines I would very much recommend a copy makes its way to your reading list. Despite my recommendation, if one were to follow the recipe verbatim one would have great difficulty. I reached the stage where the batter goes into the pan without having put the warm chocolate and butter mixture in with the rest of the ingredients. I must have read the recipe a dozen times before accepting the fact the author left out what to do with it! Even worse was the baking times, which I had to nearly double to get my brownies to a cooked state. Now every oven is different, so I still recommend starting with their time of 25 minutes but be prepared to go upwards of 40 minutes.

In response to these discoveries I have altered the recipe in parts, mainly to clarify what to do with the warm chocolate and butter mixture. Once I find a recipe book (because yes I am still looking) I will record the below and likely make them monthly, because yes they are a wonderful treat.

Chocolate-Covered Espresso Bean Brownies


Adapted from Kinfolk.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted or salted butter*, sliced or cubed
  • 8 ounces chocolate*, coarsely chopped, baker’s chocolate is fine
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted to ensure consistency
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, sifted
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons ground coffee or instant espresso
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate-covered* espresso beans, coarsely crushed

Notes: The original recipe calls for unsalted butter, but either should be fine. As for the chocolate, the original recipe calls for 6 ounces of bittersweet and 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate. I only had sweetened baker’s chocolate and that worked out just fine. Chocolate-covered espresso beans are an odd ingredient, but interestingly we had a package in the pantry from a trip to Piccard’s Peanuts. If you do not have access to chocolate-covered espresso beans I would suggest using the same amount of crushed whole-bean coffee beans, which would give a similar crunch.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment or grease the pan, whichever you prefer.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a larger bowl, whisk together the sifted sugar and ground coffee first, then add the eggs and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
  5. Add the flour mixture and crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans. Whisk.
  6. Add the butter and chocolate mixture. Whisk well.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading it in an even layer.
  8. Bake until the sides begin to pull away slightly and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached. The recipe says 25 to 30 minutes, but mine took 40. If a toothpick comes out wet put the brownies back into the oven in 5-minute intervals.
  9. Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan placed on a wire rack, then cut into squares.

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