Crisis Brownies, the food, arose because, put simply, sometimes there are just those occasions that are so harrowing and stressful - like a break-up or extreme PMDD - that you need a fudgy, deeply intense, dark chocolate brownie. You may need just one; you may feel as though you have to eat half the batch straight from the pan. Whatever, why waste that burning need on something from a box when you can melt the best quality chocolate you can find and use real butter?
I love adapting and tinkering with this recipe to try out various flavor combinations and create different textures - by far, I prefer fudgy, dense and moist to cakey, but that's just me. I also prefer dark chocolate brownies that border on bittersweet to those that use milk chocolate. This is the first time I made them into miniatures by baking them in a mini-muffin tin. You end up with what is the perfect mouthful of brownie. Very satisfying.
I had wanted to top these with an espresso glaze or ganache, but when I ate my first tester brownie after I'd taken the out of the tins, I realized that these need nothing else except maybe a tall, cold glass of something milk-like whether it's milk, soymilk or almond milk. They are the perfect dark chocolate morsel.
Dark Chocolate Espresso Brownie Bites
Makes 16 mini brownies
- 1 T espresso powder
- 1/4 cup All-Purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
- 3 T salted butter
- 1 T strong brewed coffee
- 6 oz. semisweet chocolate
- 1/4 t vanilla
- 1 egg at room temperature, beaten
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 mini muffin tins with butter, shortening or cooking spray - I filled up one whole 12-muffin tin and had enough batter to make four more in another tin.
- In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder and espresso powder with a whisk. Make sure to break up any clumps of cocoa powder.
- In the top of a double boiler, gently heat the butter, sugar and coffee until the butter starts to melt.
- Add the chocolate and as it starts to melt, stir with a baking spatula. Once most of the chocolate has melted, take the top of the double boiler off the heat and keep stirring until it has all melted and is well mixed. Let it cool for about 5 minutes.
- Add the vanilla extract to the chocolate mixture. Once the chocolate has come down in temperature to the point where you don't burn yourself when you stick your finger into the mix to test it, add the beaten egg and stir well.* See Notes
- Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate and stir well.
- Scoop the batter by spoonful into the muffin tins to fill the about 2/3 full. I had enough for 16 mini muffins.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out fairly clean. I usually underbake them slightly.
- Let cool in the muffin tins for about 45 minutes before turning them out.
- Usually when incorporating eggs into hot liquids, you'll want to temper them by adding a tiny bit of the hot liquid to the beaten eggs and whisking it pretty vigorously to raise the temperature of the egg, then you add that to the rest of the hot liquid mixture and keep whisking. This is so that that the egg won't curdle immediately upon meeting the hot mixture. No one wants scrambled eggs in gougeres, custards or brownies, right?
- It's worth noting that the magical temperature at which egg starts to curdle is 175 F. Sometimes when I am dealing with a pretty thick liquid mixture, like the chocolate mess with these brownies, it is a pain in the ass to use it to temper the eggs. Sometimes I'll scrape the chocolate mixture into a bowl nested in an ice water bath and let it cool before adding the eggs. The problem with that technique is that if it cools too far and you add the egg and try to stir it in, the chocolate mixture is grainy and won't accept the egg as well.
- That's when I decided to check the temperature manually. I've been making these for so long this way that I can tell by feel when the chocolate is cool enough but not too cool. It is important to stir the chocolate as it cools so that it is a uniform temperature with no blazing hot spots in there just waiting to curdle the eggs.