“Research tells us 14 out of any 10 individuals likes chocolate!”

Haven’t gotten your honey a gift yet?  Surprise him or her with these home baked treats: dark chocolate-covered strawberries and spicy dark chocolate brownies.

Strawberries and brownies

Spicy Chocolate  Brownies

This recipe is from a small Brooklyn bakery  famous for whipping up great desserts.  This brownie isn’t as sweet as a traditional brownie; it has a slight spice from the chili and a hint of ginger.   Please note, the first half of the recipe requires you melt chocolate, then let it sit for about 20 minutes. You could technically wait until you’re done melting the chocolate to preheat your oven. 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp Dutch cocoa powder

1 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

5 oz dark chocolate chips (60% cocoa)

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9×9 baking pan with aluminum foil (easy clean up!) and spray foil with cooking spray.

Line 9x9 pan with foil and cooking spray

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cocoa powder, chili powder and cinnamon.

Whisk dry ingredients

In a double boiler (or make one:   fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water and fit a metal bowl on top without letting it touch the water; bring the water to a boil), add the chips and the butter and stir occasionally until both are completely melted and combined.

Double Boiler
Add butter and dark chocolate chips
Melting chocolate

When butter and chocolate is completely melted and combined, turn off heat  but keep bowl over water and add both granulated and light brown sugars.  Whisk until combined and remove bowl from pan.  Let stand for about 20 minutes, until room temperature.

Add eggs to the cooled chocolate-butter mixture and whisk until just combined.

Add eggs

Add vanilla and ginger; whisk to combine.  Sprinkle flour-cocoa mixture over the chocolate mixture.  Using a spatula (DO NOT USE A WHISK!) fold in the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of flour mix visible.    Overmixing will change the consistency of the brownies.

Fold flour-mixture into chocolate mixture

Pour batter into pan and smooth top with the spatula.  Bake brownies for 27-30 minutes; brownies are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Cool brownies completely on a wire rack before cutting and serving.

The toothpick test

Dark Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

The key is perfect chocolate-covered strawberries is not letting any water hit the chocolate.  So strawberries should be completely dry before dipping them in chocolate and when melting the chocolate, do not let any water or steam get into the chocolate – the chocolate will become too stiff and grainy.

24 large fresh strawberries

9 oz semisweet dark chocolate

1/2 cup cream

Wash the strawberries; pat dry thoroughly with paper towels and set aside.  Strawberries should be at room temperature and completely dry before using.

Wash strawberries
Dry strawberries with paper towels

Melt the 9oz of chocolate and 1/2 cup of cream into a steel bowl over a pot of boiling water (double boiler, see above).  Stir until chocolate is fully melted.

Double boiler
Melting chocolate

Once all melted and combined, remove from heat so that the chocolate cools slighty, but it should not set.

To dip the strawberries in chocolate, grasp the green leaves of the berry, dip into the chocolate and swirl in the chocolate to partially cover.  Withdraw it from the chocolate, swirl it quickly to let the excess chocolate drip off. Place the strawberry on parchment paper.  

Chocolate-covered strawberries

Place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden.  Then serve.

(I tried something new, with the help of my husband.  Here’s a short clip of me  dipping the strawberries in chocolate.  Sorry for the background noise, the kids were watching TV!   Thoughts? )

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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