Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Quick and Easy Gourmet Espresso Brownies

Pressed for time? Have an unexpected invitation to dinner or a potluck and don’t know what dish to bring? Need a quick dessert that is easy and made with things you probably have in your kitchen?

Well, if you’re like me, you have this problem on a regular basis.

This week at work, we held a going away party for a colleague who is leaving and because I work 12-hour shifts, I had very little time to prepare anything elaborate. Enter my trusty standby—Cheater Brownies—box base with a few gourmet additions. This classic dump-cooking favorite is versatile and virtually fool proof… and not only that, it gets rave review from young and old alike. Enjoy!

Gourmet Espresso Brownies
(makes 12-16 brownies)

1 box Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix
1 egg
1/3 C oil
1/3 C water
½ package chocolate chips
2 Tbs espresso powder (buy or grind your own from whole beans)
Chocolate covered espresso beans
Powdered sugar
Hot Fudge (Mrs. Richardson’s Hot fudge is my favorite)

Kitchen notes: I use the Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix and best quality milk-chocolate chips (Ghirardelli or Guittard), because I’ve had great results and because Ghirardelli and Guittard products are given high marks by the Cook’s Illustrated test kitchen. In a pinch, use whatever you have handy.

Instructions: Mix brownies as per instructions on the back of the package. Add in the extra ingredients before adding the liquids. Line baking dish with parchment paper to allow lifting the brownies from the pan when cool. Bake according to directions on package. Cool in pan until completely cool (overnight, covered with a tea towel, is good). Lift from pan and cut into squares. Garnish with powdered sugar sprinkled through a sieve or shaker. Pipe a dot of hot fudge onto the middle of each brownie and top with chocolate covered espresso bean.

Variations: If espresso brownies aren't your thing, here are a couple of other ideas. Leave out the espresso powder and try these substitutions instead.

Minty—add ½ teaspoon peppermint flavoring to batter or substitute 2 T of peppermint schnapps, for 2 T of water. Garnish with crushed peppermint candies, or mint leaves and a mint flavored Hershey’s Kiss.

Caramel—substitute 2 T of spiced rum, for 2 T of water. Garnish with melted caramels drizzled over the brownies.

Alternatively, if you just want a pretty brownie, consider these garnishes.
·         Fresh berries
·         White chocolate curls
·         Candied nuts
·         Whipped cream with a cherry
·         Candied Sprinkles
·         Andes Mint Curls
·         Candied Fruit
Go here for a cool website with lots of other ideas for garnishing.

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