Saturday, December 17, 2011

And the secret ingredient is ... Chocolate

I entered another Marx Foods contest, and this one is all about chocolate.

As usual, Marx supplied (for free) some interesting ingredients, and the goal was to use at least one of the ingredients in a recipe with chocolate. The vanilla beans were too easy, so I set those aside. The coconut sugar was promising, so I put that in the "yes" pile.

There were candycap mushrooms the box, but I just finished a candycap mushroom contest, so I decided not to use those.

Then there were peppers. Chocolate and spice go together well, but that almost seemed too easy. Too expected. A trendy pairing. So that left fennel pollen.

Yep. Fennel Pollen. Pollen from a fennel plant.

It's interesting stuff. Tastes like fennel which tastes like anise which tastes like licorice. I figured it would work well with chocolate.

For the contest, I made brownies. And for a little extra flavor, I used browned butter. Butter is good, browned butter is ... yum.

Browned Butter Brownies with Fennel Salt

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon fennel pollen

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fold a piece of parchment paper so it is 8 inches wide. Place it in the botton of an 8x8 square baking pan with the long ends coming up the sides of the pan.

For extra insurance, you can spray the uncovered sides of the pan with baking spray.

In a small pan, melt the butter, and continue heating it until it begins to brown and it smells nutty - don't let it burn. Brown is good - burned is bad. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugars, and vanilla with an electric mixer until it is light (or you can do this in your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.)

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Whisk to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture, and beat on low until blended. Add the melted butter and beat until it is all combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the fennel pollen and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the brownie batter.

Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - about 25 minutes. Let the brownies cool in the pan on a rack, then use the ends of the parchment paper to lift them out of the pan. Slice and serve.

These brownies were created for a contest at Marx Foods. Please vote for me here.