{Baking} OLIVE OIL WALNUT BROWNIES … darned good bites!

“Other things are just food. But chocolate’s chocolate.”
 Patrick Skene Catling
Can there ever be enough chocolate goodness in our lives? Not a chance, so as promised I’m back with another chocolate recipe. This time it’s Chef  Darren Conole’s Olive Oil Brownie recipe that he created for us to sweetly wrap up lunch at the Borges Olive Oil Meet for Food Bloggers and Critics at the Shangri-La Eros Hotel, New Delhi.
The banter over lunch that day went from the poor pumpkin which is ever so neglected, to Michelin star chefs and food trends in the UK, and then to the chefs cute as a button toddler who turns his nose up on veggies, and can survive on yogurt every single day! Since the meet was over olive oil, Darren had the olive oil brownies served in style, beautifully plated, complete with vanilla ice cream etc. I tragically had to race off as they were served, as I had to pick the lad up after school. Managed to grab the recipe off Darren while at lunch, and he was good enough to pack a serving for me as I left.
About these brownies in the Chefs words, ‘This is an old fashioned brownie. Because of the air whipped into the first stage of this recipe, it comes out crunchy and chewy To make these brownies even more decadent, add half a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I can’t eat a brownie without a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you shouldn’t either.”
With more olive oil in a goodie bag from the good folk at Borges, I knew the brownies weren’t far from being made. These are the first bakes in my new kitchen, but electricity played spoilsport and did the number on me 15 minutes after I popped the tin in. They rose beautifully in the first 15 minutes, but then settled back once the power went. It was back in a while though, but they didn’t seem very ready  in 25 minutes, so I ended giving them another 10-15 minutes, with a piece of foil slipped over to prevent extra browning.
The texture was fabulous, slightly different from the one that I had from the batch Darren made. Those were more even and fudgy all over. Mine has this light crisp, almost crunchy top, and the inside was dense and gooey. So delicious that I couldn’t resist nibbling off all the edges. BIG HIT with the kids too. I have a mocha version on my mind which I have to try soon.
Few changes as always … I added a heaped tbsp of Valrhona {yes, it’s still going strong, but have reached the bottom of the bag now}, and reduced the sugar by a 1/4 cup. Will probably try with just a cup of sugar the next time, with a sachet of vanilla sugar sprinkled on top. And yes, I added a few chopped toasted walnuts and they really added to the depth of flavour! All in all, it was a delicious, good looking brownie, which I’m going to be making once again, and soon.

Olive Oil Walnut Brownies

Minimally adapted from recipe by Darren Conole, Executive Chef Shangri-La-Eros Hotel, New Delhi
4oz dark chocolate
1/3 cup pure or light olive oil {I used Borges from here}
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 heaped tbsp good quality cocoa {I used Valrhona}
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Method:

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line a 11 x 7 x 2 or 8 x 8 x 2 pan with parchment {or spray with olive oil cooking spray. I lined mine with baking parchment.
In a small bowl melt the dark chocolate and olive oil in the microwave for 1 minute, 30 seconds. Mix well with spoon. Set aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa and salt.
Place eggs, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat well for 5 minutes, until nice and fluffy.
Blend in the chocolate mixture with a spatula. Fold in the sifted flour until just incorporated. Add walnuts and blend gently.
Pour the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle over with a few toasted walnuts and vanilla sugar
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. {mine took a lot longer, so make sure you test if it is ready}.
Cool in pan, and then cut as desired.
Serve with vanilla ice cream and berry sauce.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
I like to give a shout out to to Rob Hrytzak’s who wrote to me a few days ago about Sifted Recipes. Rob’s passion for food and cooking in general has been steadily growing over the past couple of years; one of the main reasons why he started sifted recipes. With this interest, he naturally went to the internet to find recipes and trends within the foodie community. 
Do stop by at Sifted Recipes, where Rob harnesses the power of the internet to let the user community and foodies of the world submit and vote on the latest recipes from around the world, from many different blogs and websites.

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{Baking} ROBERT’S ABSOLUTE BEST BROWNIES … Ready for Dessert, David Lebovitz

“The hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn.”
David Russell

Ready For Dessert? Always!! Our home is always ready for dessert and it guarantees making the main meal so much more enjoyable. The air of anticipation, new variety coming forth … and if it’s chocolate, then it’s nirvana! I made these a while ago, or rather quite a while ago, and didn’t get down to posting them. Today is a happy day because the kids schools have finally reopened after more than 2 months of summer vacations, and I feel a sense of relief. Still scrabbling to get my life back in some order, to feel sane again …

As the story goes, the other day I saw a tweet about a Food Photo Competition from Leite’s Culinaria. I was all ears! I love food photos and competitions. So what if I don’t seem to win them, but taking a shot is always good! It was simple to enter. Find a recipe on Leite’s Culinaria that looks interesting to you, whip it up and make it strike a pose! Leite’s Culinaria is one of those places where the ‘want to make now‘ choice is ample, and it was a tough decision…

I spent the rest of my day browsing recipe after recipe on the site, and was amazed at how many I had bookmarked. There were so many I wanted to try, but eventually stopped short at ‘Robert’s Absolute Best brownies‘ from David Lebovitz’s latest book ‘Ready For Dessert‘. Of course, what I didn’t take into account was the fact that I never find chocolate stuff easy to click. Too late I guess, because the heart was set on these indulgent brownies! His introduction to the recipe had me sold, and I HAD to make them soon.

In Monsieur Lebovitz’s words {I could almost see his cynical expression as I read the commentary} …

 I have a blanket mistrust of any recipe with a superlative in the title. “The Ultimate” or “The World’s Finest” always makes me raise an eyebrow. But how else can I describe these brownies? I’ve made a lot of brownies in my life, and these really are the best. I learned to make them from the late Robert Steinberg, who changed the world of American chocolate when he cofounded Scharffen Berger chocolate. Part of Robert’s unique charm was that he was quick to argue and that he, like most people who hold strong opinions on things food-wise, was invariably right when you would taste the results.
He adapted his brownie recipe from one by cookbook author Maida Heatter. The first time I made the brownies, they were a dry, crumbly disaster. Unconvinced that they were worthy of their accolades, I listened carefully as he walked me through the steps. When he asked if I had stirred the batter vigorously for 1 full minute, I stammered and then finally admitted that I cut that step short. “Aha!” he said. So I made them again, and discovered that was one life-changing minute.


I had the butter and chocolate in a pan in a jiffy, a baker on a mission, on a brownie high! Of course it was another matter that we ran into a major power outage by the time I was done stirring the batter VIGOROUSLY for 1 whole minute {gosh, didn’t think a vigorous minute would be so long!} Just as I turned the batter into the tin, and popped it into my nicely preheated oven, DING! There was a power-cut, and I was gutted! But then, having gotten used to such hapless situations more often than warranted in the summer, I just let the batter sit in the oven. What could go wrong? In any case there was no baking powder in it … ho hum! I aired my grievances on twitter … here’s a teenie bit of the banter…

davidlebovitz: @vindee 2 hours? I couldn’t wait that long. I’d just eat the batter : )

vindee: @davidlebovitz LOL … I might hv had a go if I hadn’t been so egg phobic. Fought the daughter off though. She was ready to dive in!!

Clichéd as it may sound, these did indeed turn out to be the best brownies ever. Fudgy, chocolaty and very ‘perfect-brownie like’ in taste. They baked well despite the fiasco I had with the power outage. I had to fight the kids to stay away from them, and predictably, they didn’t last very long. It’s a drop dead simple recipe, and a one-bowl one. Pay attention to that vigorous minute, you must. It might seem never-ending, but it seems to hold the secret to this great recipe.

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies
Recipe posted on Leite’s Culinaria from David Lebovitz, Ready for Dessert
Makes 9 to 12 brownies
Ingredients
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted or salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Method
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Line the inside of a 9-inch square pan with 2 lengths of foil, positioning the sheets perpendicular to each other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan, or with a single large sheet of extra wide foil or parchment paper. Lightly butter the foil or parchment.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and stir until it is melted and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Add the flour and stir energetically for 1 full minute—time yourself—until the batter loses its graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the saucepan. Stir in the chopped nuts.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the center feels almost set, about 30 minutes. Do not overbake.
Let the brownie cool completely in the pan—this is the difficult part—before lifting the foil or parchment and the block of brownie out of the pan. Cut the brownie into squares. {The brownies will keep well for up to 4 days and can be frozen for 1 month}
Variation
This recipe takes well to mix-ins. I’ll sometimes add 1/3 cup (45 g) chopped dried cherries or 1/3 cup cocoa nibs to the batter. To make minty brownies, crush the contents of one 50-gram tin of peppermint Altoids in a sturdy resealable plastic bag. Add the crushed mints to the batter along with the nuts (or, if you prefer, omit the nuts). If you like very minty brownies, add 1/2 teaspoon mint extract along with the crushed mints.
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{Baking} COCOA BERRY DESSERT BROWNIES … with Linwoods Milled Flaxseed, Cocoa and Berry Mix

There’s more to life than chocolate, but not right now.
Anonymous
THUD! It was that all too familiar noise of the postie chucking a parcel over the gate again. While I braced myself for probable disaster & broken bits of parcel, the son raced out yelling, “Mama, must be something for your blog!” Excitement writ on his face, the expectation of a new foodie flavour or recipe lighting up his life, he does enjoy the little joys of my blogging. A foodie through and through, he was spot on! Came in waving a brown floppy parcel, his eyes searching my face for a ‘go ahead’ to get to the contents! The nod from Mama followed, and soon he was waving a delicious package of Milled Flaxseed, Cocoa and Berries from Linwoods UK.
Linswood UK are a health food company based in the UK and manufacture an astonishing range of products – fresh, dairy and packaged. My first experience with their products was after the Food Blogger Connect ’09 in London where we got a goodie bag full of exciting stuff thanks to Bethany of Dirty Kitchen Secrets. Linwoods was one of the sponsors and they had included a bag of milled flour which I experimented with  in an Apple CrispMilled Nut Flour Macarons and in this French Fougasse.

A friend coming from the UK got me another bag recently, and I continue to use it to enhance nutrition in desserts and breads I bake. Of this cocoa berry product, the company says, “Linwoods Milled Flaxseed, Cocoa and Berries blend boasts incredible antioxidants qualities, particularly when compared to other fruit and vegetables. An adult would need to eat a total of 1 cabbage, 3 full broccoli, 6 carrots, 3 apples, 1 grapefruit and 10 tomatoes to get the same amount of antioxidants contained in just two spoonfuls of this new super food!” 

The cocoa berry mix called my name and I dreamt of several ways to use it …. but Mr PAB who was recovering from an illness decided to have a relapse, and left me with little time to experiment!  Linswood asked us to create recipes using the product, and here is my contribution. The idea took off as snack brownies, but the creation in the end was more like dessert nirvana

Decadent  and delicious! I have to say I was surprised at the amount of flavour the Linwoods mix offered them! Made brownies using their cocoa product, enhanced with a little melted dark chocolate. Also substituted 25gms butter with 25gms EVOO, and added some brandied burgundy cherries to the mix. This is my entry for the Linwoods Cocoa Delight Recipe Development Competition.

My one and only jar of brandied burgundy cherries was disappearing fast, and I felt compelled to use them again before they were gone. I recently topped these divine Chocolate Pavlovas we did for the Daring Bakers with these preserved cherries. Adding some to the brownie batter, I thought the brownies might turn out nice, but I didn’t expect them to turn out this nice. The cocoa berry mix and dark chocolate added great depth in colour and flavour, and the brandied bing cherries took them straight  from snack to ‘dessert’ level! Moist, dark and deep, the verdict was out the minute I sliced them! YUM!!

Served them up with some unsweetened whipped cream topped with some more preserved cherries of course! Thank you Linwoods for this wonderful product. Loved experimenting with it, and hope to try it on some more sweet stuff in the near future. Thank you  gorgeous Bethany for introducing me to the world of Linwoods!

Cocoa Berry Dessert Brownies
Own recipe
75gms unsalted butter, soft
25gms Extra Virgin Olive Oil {EVOO}
2/3 cups vanilla sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
50gms dark chocolate, melted and mixed with 1 tsp EVOO
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup Milled Flaxseed, Cocoa and Berry mix from Linwoods
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brandied burgundy cherries, drained, halved

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C.

Line a 8″ round Victoria sandwich tin, or 7 X 11″ baking tin.
Place the flour, milled flaxseed, cocoa and berry mix, baking powder and salt in a bowl, and mix uniformly with balloon whisk.
Beat the butter, EVOO and vanilla sugar till smooth, 1 minute on high.
Add the vanilla extract and eggs, and beat for another minute. Pour in the melted dark chocolate in a stream, beating to incorporate constantly.
Fold in the mixed dry ingredients and the drained, chopped preserved cherries.{I reserved a few cherries for the top}
Turn into prepared tin, and bake for 20-25 minutes / until a tester comes out clean. Cool on rack completely, chill for a few hours / overnight, else they might be too fragile to cut. Turn out gently, slice and serve.
Serve with unsweetend whipped cream, and some brandied cherries.
Note: The brownies stay well in the fridge, and can be served chilled. They remain moist because of the preserved cherries.
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