Monday, January 21, 2013

Oscar Noms #1: Zero Dark Chocolate Thirty

It's my favorite blog time of the year, Oscar Noms time! Nothing gets me motivated to get back to blogging quite like Oscar Noms. It combines two of my greatest passions - food and movies - and allows me to dork out coming up with punny food names. Please indulge me.

This first entry, Dark Chocolate Strawberry Brownies with Ganache, is a play on Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. (SPOILER ALERT: They find him.) I asked myself, "What could be better than chocolate-covered strawberries?" And the answer I came up with was, brownie-covered strawberries! With ganache! The sweet tartness of the strawberries is a great complement to these rich and decadent, moist, fudgey brownies. They are the perfect thing to eat while watching the red carpet and being happy that you don't have to starve yourself for weeks to fit into one of those dresses.

For the brownies, I pretty much veganized this recipe, but omitted the white chocolate chips (although that sounds delicious too) and instead of serving the strawberries just as a garnish, I mixed some fresh ones directly into the batter. And then I added a ganache, because, well, it just sounded good. I mean, if you're going to eat brownies, you might as well really go for it, right?

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Brownies with Ganache
makes 16 brownies

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 Tbsp. Earth Balance or other vegan butter
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
3 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer, mixed with 4 Tbsp. water (equivalent of 2 eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup fresh strawberries, cut into quarters, plus additional berries for garnish
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup vegan creamer (I used So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer)

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 8-inch square baking pan. Stir chocolate and vegan butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature.

2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Whisk sugar, egg replacer and vanilla extract in medium bowl until mixture is very thick, about 3 minutes. Whisk in melted chocolate mixture, then flour mixture. Gently fold in 1 cup fresh strawberries. Transfer to prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula.

3. Bake brownies until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 28 minutes. Transfer brownies in pan to rack; cool completely.

4.  For the ganache, place bittersweet chocolate in a bowl.  Pour the vegan creamer into a saucepan; bring to a gentle simmer over medium low heat.  Pour the creamer over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes, then stir with a spatula until smooth.  Pour over the cooled brownies and smooth out the top. The ganache will take about 20 minutes to set - I recommend putting the brownies in the refrigerator to help the ganache firm up. Cut brownies into 16 squares. Serve brownies with additional fresh strawberries.

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