I’ve never quite understood why there isn’t a Nobel Prize for food. Seems to me there’s one for just about everything else. Don’t those judges in Stockholm ever get hungry? Granted, there’s a lot of ‘beige’ food in Scandinavian cooking (these are the folks who came up with Lutfisk), but still, they do have to leave the country sometime, right? And anyway, whoever came up with gravlax, or putting lingonberries with Swedish Meatballs (a damn fine combo) surely would understand the concept. It’s not like there isn’t a wealth possible recipients. For a start, how about Mr. Reese? Now there’s a fella who deserved the prize. Peanut butter and chocolate…GENIUS! And as far as making a contribution to world peace, my brother and I can attest that Reese’s peanut butter cups prevented major wars with our mother. Why, just hold out one of those orange and brown packages in her direction and détente was achieved on the spot. What about the person who thought up chocolate-covered pretzels? That has to be worth a piece of jewelry with Alfred’s puss on it. Plus there are foods completely unrelated to chocolate (shocking, I know.) Orange olive oil cake, gelato, osso bucco, tarte tartin, good balsamic on strawberries, or ice cream or both! What about fried zucchini blossoms (frying flowers…BRILLIANT), pumpkin ravioli with brown butter and sage, schnitzel, spaetzle, sushi, or cheeseburgers? I’ve only scratched the surface here! I say we start a write in campaign immediately. After all, Alfred Nobel was a chemist. I bet he was a good cook too.
I believe a life without chocolate would not be worth living. So my first submission to Stockholm is naturally one with chocolate in a starring role. And if there’s a combination of sweet and salt too? That’s as close to heaven as I’m going to get. My fleur de sel brownies are such a little square of nirvana. They have also been known to establish world peace…well, in my world at least.
- Yields: 24, or one, depending upon how bad a day you’ve had
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 1 hour, plus time for cooling
- Active: 15 minutes
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts
For the ganache icing
- 7 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (if using bittersweet, add 1 tsp honey)
- 1/4 cup butter
- a pinch (about 1/8 tsp) fleur de sel or other flakey sea salt (maldon works fine here)
- 1 tsp strong coffee or espresso
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Spray foil with cooking spray.
- Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 ½ – 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and nuts, mix well and pour into prepared pan.
- BAKE 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool completely. Use foil handles to remove brownies from pan before cutting to serve.
- For the ganache frosting: Melt the chocolate with the butter, coffee, and pinch of salt over double boiler. Stir until completely incorporated and spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle up to a 1/2 tsp fleur de sel or malden salt over ganache (you want just a hint of salt on top.)
- Chill thoroughly before cutting. These can be made a day in advance. Store in refrigerator and take out 15-20 minutes before serving. Calories: 260/serving.