In early June, I planted zinnia seeds, two varieties. They are from a company called Renee’s Garden. One was called Berry Basket and the other Moulin Rouge. They are flowering now, and are being fought over by monarch and swallowtail butterflies. A hummingbird visits regularly, but I have yet to capture its photo–it’s my holy grail. But here are the flowers and the butterflies.
Belgian Chocolate Brownies
I was leafing through a favorite cookbook of mine–the Hay Day Country Market Cookbook by Kim Rizk, when I ran across a recipe for Belgian Chocolate Brownies. I wondered how they were different from any other kind of chocolate brownies, so, of course, I had to try. Turns out that Belgian and Swiss chocolates are among the best in the world, and that using the best chocolate does make a difference in the final product. I stopped by our local grocery store and studied their chocolate offerings. I found Chocolove Strong Dark Chocolate as my one and only option. It’s made in Colorado, but with Begian chocolate–I brought home three bars. The wrapper noted that their chocolate tastes best at 70 degrees F, but should be stored at 55 to 65 degrees F. Since my kitchen was about 80 degrees, I was immediately in trouble. But, I jumped in! As a bonus, I found a lovely poem printed on the inside wrapper. Will share the poem after the recipe.
Belgian Chocolate Brownies
8 ounces unsweetened or dark Belgian chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (two sticks) butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-1/2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9″ metal pan and line with parchment paper. Lightly grease again.
Melt the chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave. In my microwave, I melted the chocolate and butter at half power for three minutes, stopping twice to stir. After the three minutes, I stirred the mixture until all was melted. You can melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan on the stove, but chocolate is very prone to burning, and the microwave method works well. Set aside to cool.
Combine the eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar in a large bowl and beat with either a large metal whisk or with an electric mixer. A mere spoon isn’t up to this. Beat until mixture is light and smooth. Sift the flour into the egg mixture, alternating with the cooled chocolate mixture. Beat only until combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, and bake just until set about 35 minutes. The brownie will have puffed up and will have some crackling.
Allow to cool before cutting.
Baking notes: This recipe made me a bit nervous, as the 375 degree baking temperature is high for a brownie, and the 3-1/2 cups sugar looked like a typo. But, all was well. There is a lot of batter, and the higher temperature helps it rise up quickly. Try not to bake it too much longer than the 35 minutes. Brownies burn easily. Just peek in the oven after about 30 minutes, watch for it to puff up, and snatch it out after 35 to 37 minutes. A neighbor came to the door just as the baking brownies hit the 37 minutes point–our newspaper had landed in her yard. So my brownies baked for about 39 minutes, and the corners browned a bit too much. But they are still moist and delish. And, we have our paper. The original recipe called for unsweetened Belgian chocolate, but you can also use dark Belgian chocolate.
Here is the poem:
Were I as base as is the lowly plain,
and you, my Love, as high as heaven above,
Yet should the thoughts of me your humble swain,
Ascend to heaven, in honor of my Love.
Were I as high as heaven above the plain,
And you, my Love, as humble and as low
As are the deepest bottoms of the main,
Whereso’er you were, with you my love should go.
Were you the earth, dear Love and I the skies,
My love should shine on you like to the sun,
And look upon you with ten thousand eyes
Till heaven wax’d blind, and till the world were done.
Whereso’er I am, below, or else above you,
Whereso’er you are, my heart shall truly love you.
Joshua Sylvester (1563-1618)