I had a champagne and chocolate party for my last birthday, and fell in love with these two luxurious items. The complex flavors of champagne and chocolate work well together, and I have always wanted to explore the combination further. The dark chocolate theme for this Sugar High Friday gave me the perfect excuse to experiment, and I began assembling the ingredients for my new creation, Champagne Brownies.
While on a trip to Montreal, Canada I found champagne jelly in several stores and took one home as a souvenir. I ended up wasting my imported jar in a brownie experiment that went awry (don’t try adding this on top of the batter before baking, it’s a disaster), but I knew it had potential for something good. I went on a search for it in the U.S. and found a small bottle at the gourmet food shop, Fauchon. It wasn’t nearly as cheap as in Canada (a 4.7 ounce jar costs $8 at Fauchon!), but I decided I had to have it anyway. Fortunately, it goes a long way when used as a glaze.
With my jelly in hand, I picked up a bottle of cheap champagne at the liquor store and began to experiment. I used Lindt 70% dark chocolate in my favorite brownie recipe, and decided to throw a cup of champagne directly into the batter. As the brownies are in the oven, some of the alcohol in the champagne bakes out, leaving the brownies with a nice, mellow champagne flavor. Once the brownies finished baking, I used the champagne jelly to make a glaze. The glaze is created by heating the jelly until it is the consistency of thin syrup, and spreading it on the warm brownies with a pastry brush. This gives the brownies a shiny top; simultaneously keeping the brownies moist and strengthening the champagne flavor. The end result was a rich, dark chocolate brownie with a subtle champagne after taste. The champagne flavor is strong enough to differentiate it from normal brownies and satisfy champagne lovers, but does not have an overwhelming alcohol flavor.
Champagne Brownies are truly a dark chocolate treat, since this recipe would not work as well with milk or semisweet chocolate. Only a deep, dark chocolate can stand up to the champagne flavor. I look forward to serving these at my next chocolate and champagne party.
Yield: 16 brownies
Pan: 9″ x 9″ square baking pan
16 oz. (1 lb) 70% dark chocolate, chopped
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for buttering the pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups of sugar
4 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup champagne
1. Adjust the rack 1/3 from bottom of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Butter a 9″x9″ baking pan and line with parchment paper (leave extra overhanging the edges for easy removal.)
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave or double boiler. If using the microwave, heat in 30 second increments and stir between each addition. Do not overheat or chocolate will seize.
3. Beat the salt, vanilla and sugar into the melted chocolate mixture.
4. Add the eggs one at a time to the chocolate mixture and beat thoroughly to incorporate.
5. Add the flour and mix just until blended.
6. Add the champagne and continue mixing the batter vigorously until it becomes very shiny and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (I use my stand mixer for this, and let it run for 2-3 minutes on high. If you don’t have a mixer, just keep beating hard for several minutes.Work off those calories you’re about to consume!)
7. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out moist, but free of batter, about 45-50 minutes.
Place a heaping tablespoon of champagne jelly into a microwave safe cup. Heat the jelly until it becomes liquid (about 30 seconds.) Using a pastry brush, brush the warm brownies with the champagne jelly glaze. The liquid should be completely absorbed into the brownies, leaving a moist, shiny top.
Tip: The brownies should be completely cool before cutting. I recommend placing them in the refrigerator overnight to set.
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