Eli Cooks

Crack Brownies
November 30, 2008, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Dessert | Tags: , , , ,

crack brownies

I saw these in Gourmet a few years back. I was looking for something chocolate for my Christmas party that year. They looked a bit fussy, but also very rich: perfect for the holidays. That first time I made them mostly as shown in the magazine: chocolate and mint. A few hours into the party, people started commenting on the brownies. “What’s in these?” “They’re so good.” “I can’t stop eating them.” and eventually “I know if I eat one more of these brownies, I’m going to die, but yet I can’t stop myself from eating it. They’re like crack.” Ever since, they’ve been known as Eli’s Crack Brownies.

chocolate and butter

Since then I’ve made them several times, changing the flavors each time. I’ve only repeated a few flavors and I haven’t had a dud yet. Sure I have favorites (and this most recent version is one of them) but they’ve all been good. Course, when you’re starting with an extra rich, fudgy dark chocolate brownie, then layering it with white and dark chocolate ganache, it’s hard to screw up. I’ve always meant to try just making the brownie layer on its own – I think it would be the perfect brownie I always want and never quite get – but I never manage to stop without the ganache.

block o brownies

These brownies really do fall into the “stop everything you’re doing and go make them right now” category. And with Christmas right around the corner, what better time is there? But they should also come with a warning: they’re cut small for a reason. Even at their measly 1″ square size, you really shouldn’t eat more than 2 or 3 at a time. Please don’t cut these into normal 2″ or 3″ brownie size. (Please! Think of the children!)

Crack Brownies (Mexican Chocolate Brownie Squares)
Adapted from Gourmet, December 2005 

The original recipe called for a high-quality dark chocolate, but I’ve always just used regular old Bakers Semi-Sweet with superb results.

For brownie layer
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
10 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp paprika

For white chocolate ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 3″ cinnamon sticks
1 tsp cassia buds (or replace these with another cinnamon stick)
1 small pinch red chili flakes
10 oz white chocolate

For chocolate ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
10 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 tsp almond extract

Make brownie layer:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line with 2 crisscrossed sheets of foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil.

Melt butter and chocolate with brown sugar in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in eggs and vanilla until combined. Whisk in flour, cocoa, salt, cinnamon and chilies until just combined.

Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake until set and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs adhering, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Make white chocolate ganache:
Bring cream and spices to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour cream through a strainer over the white chocolate in a bowl. Stir until smooth. (If the chocolate doesn’t completely melt, microwave it for 30 seconds. Pour over the brownies and refrigerate until completely set, at least 45 minutes.

Make chocolate ganache:
Bring cream to a simmer. Pour over bittersweet chocolate in a bowl. Add almond extract. Stir until smooth. (If the chocolate doesn’t completely melt, microwave it for 30 seconds. Pour over the white chocolate layer on the brownies and refrigerate until completely set, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Lift dessert out of pan using foil overhang. Run a heavy knife under hot water and wipe dry, then trim edges of dessert (1/4 inch off each side). Cut dessert into approximately 1″ squares. (I cut 6 rows by 10 rows.)

Alternative Flavors:
These readily lend themselves to experimentation with different flavors. Start from a basic, un-flavored recipe by removing the spices and almond extract from the brownie and ganache layers, then go from there.

Add Creme de menthe and mint extract to the white chocolate ganache. (This is the original Gourmet recipe.)

Add seedless raspberry jam to the white chocolate ganache and either Frangelico or Amaretto to the dark chocolate ganache.

Add finely chopped orange zest and Cointreau/Triple Sec/orange extract to the white chocolate ganache.

Add extra strong coffee or espresso to the white chocolate ganache.

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Ooh…. I like the spicing. The creme de menthe variation is sounding pretty good right now.
We call profiteroles “crack balls” 🙂

Comment by Jude

I hope the Eli’s Crack Brownie pan still comes in handy.

Comment by Eilene

Indeed it does. Thanks again!

Comment by Eli

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