Sunday, June 28, 2015

Salt & Vinegar Brownie Brittle

I get these crazy ideas.

Ideas about making a chocolate version of salt & vinegar potato chips. Totally weird. I like weird.

It's not the first time I've put savoury pantry ingredients in dessert before. My Sweet & Soy Pecan Chocolate Pie Bars proved to be irresistible. 

It's also not abnormal for my ideas to turn into inedible disasters. That happens. It sucks, but it happens. The bright side is that I always learn from it. I never let the fear of failure get in the way of my wacky ideas. Ideas (and love and chocolate) are what make the world go round.

This recipe is a revelation for movie night- potato chips for husband, brownie brittle for ME. Sweet.

These brownies are thin and completely appropriate for snacking. You can eat more than one like this - a fact that may or may not have been my inspiration for it...

They also feature a bit less sugar than your normal fudgy brownie and an extra egg white to give us the protein chew from egg albumin. Yolks are delicious. I love egg yolk but in this recipe we can do with out its awesome emulsifying and softening properties. We want chewy! And, we need the moisture from the egg white to help dissolve the sugar.

There is just enough sugar to help with the chew and keep them just moist enough, but not so much that they become too sweet. I wanted savoury to shine in these not-so-sane brownies.

You need reduced balsamic vinegar for this recipe. You will need to make it ahead, but you won't regret it. It is great stuff and very versatile too. Drizzle it over salads, serve with with sharp cheeses, over roasted vegetables, with sauteed mushrooms over grilled steak or chicken, and even with strawberries.

It's a sinch to do - just pour about a cup or two of good quality balsamic vinegar (preferably one from Modena) into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to simmer until reduced by two-thirds. It should thicken and become syrupy. Once cooled it will coat a spoon. If it is gooey, stringy and sticky, then you may have reduced it too far. No problem - just stir in some water, or just use it for an extra intense flavour!

These brownies get a second bake for just a few minutes to set the edges and keep their geometric shapes. This is what makes them look like brittle. Feel free to add chopped nuts and sprinkle them over the brownie batter before baking - I think roasted cashews or pecans would be outrageous!

Embrace your nonsensical side and give these sweet & salty chocolate shapes a go.

Salt & Vinegar Brownie Brittle
Makes a 13x9-inch pan

200g bittersweet chocolate 
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter
½ cup (72g) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp (12g) cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 large egg
1 egg white
¾ cup (150g) sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 tbsp (15ml) reduced balsamic vinegar
crushed Himalayan pink rock salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 13x9-inch sheet pan with parchment paper.

Melt together chocolate and butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave until smooth. Let cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together whole egg, egg white and sugar until thickened, frothy and lightened by a shade. This will take about a minute with a hand whisk. Stir through vanilla and melted chocolate mixture. Fold in flour mixture until just incorporated.

Transfer ½ cup of brownie mixture to a bowl. Spread remaining batter into the prepared pan in an even layer (it will be a thin layer). Add 1 tbsp of reduced balsamic vinegar* to the reserved brownie batter and mix to blend well. Spoon and drizzle the balsamic batter over brownie mixture in pan and swirl it in with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle pink salt generously over the top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and make several slices but do not separate the pieces. Bake again for just 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and then break into pieces.

*To make reduced balsamic vinegar, pour about 1 cup of good-quality balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let reduce by two-thirds. Let cool completely and store in the fridge. It is also great served with aged cheddar cheese, on salads and over roasted vegetables.
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