Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Recipe: Earl Grey Brownies With Lavender Honey Ganache

This was my first Bakespace recipe submission in response to the Baker's Edge brownie contest. I didn't win anything, but it was really just for fun. It's an original recipe, so it's experimental. I tweaked it a bit after testing—I thought the flavors weren't quite strong enough and that it was a little overly dense—but I haven't tested it again. I think the crystallized lavender is really what adds the most interest, although I originally added it just for the visual.

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
6 oz. unsalted butter (1.5 sticks, cut into quarters)
6 oz. eggs (4 large)
13.5 oz. granulated sugar (1.75 cups)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. looseleaf Earl Grey tea, ground in a coffee grinder
5 oz. cake flour (1.25 cups)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray or butter pan.

2. Melt the chocolate with the butter over a double boiler.

3. While the chocolate is melting, whip the eggs and sugar in a large mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment for 10 minutes.

4. Combine Earl Grey powder, flour, baking powder and salt. Sift.

5. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla to the eggs. Stir by hand to blend completely. Fold in the flour, mixing until just combined.

6. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.

7. Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted tester comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

8. Allow to cool, then add ganache and garnish with crystallized lavender (recipes below). Refrigerate.


Lavender Honey Ganache

2 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
6 oz heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. lavender

1. Finely chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch pieces.

2. Place the chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl.

3. Place lavender flowers in the cream and scald. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain and rewarm.

4. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently in a circular motion, starting from the center of the bowl and working out to the sides. Be careful not to add too much air to the ganache. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and completely emulsified.

5. Cool. Spread over brownies.


Crystallized Lavender

1 egg white (pasteurized, if desired)
1/4 cup lavender
1/2 cup sugar
food coloring (optional)

1. Color sugar with food coloring, using fingers to spread color evenly. I divided the sugar and used both pink and lavender.

2. Spread lavender onto a sheet pan covered with aluminum foil. Using a pastry brush, coat dried lavender with egg white. Spread sugar over lavender, mixing with fingers to coat evenly. Allow the lavender to dry.

3. Stir lavender to remove clumps, and transfer to an airtight container.

Cooking 2.0: Bakespace.com

I'm a social networking junkie that will join up and check out almost any new site, although I generally create an account, look around, and never go back again unless I start to get messages from friends. I really only use Twitter and Facebook on a regular basis, although I have a lot of friends on MySpace and will answer messages and read blogs there. That said, a relatively new social networking site called Bakespace, which is specifically for "cookers and cakers," has caught my attention and, more importantly, has managed to keep my attention.

You can tell that Bakespace is a new endeavor—it's a little awkward to navigate and I find it to be a little less than user-friendly (although I think MySpace is a nightmare but people love it, so there you go). What's keeps me going back? I, of course, like the subject matter and while there are a gazillion great cooking forums, discussion lists, and recipes sites out there, this type of site seems to appeal to me more. I can search around for recipes, have a place to save them, and submit my own—which I can also do on, say, Epicuirous, but I can also make friends and create a community, and Bakespace just seems friendlier for whatever reason. Maybe it's the cupcake logo—I can always be wooed with a cupcake.

I also really like their newsletter, which I receive by email. They include recipes, tips, trivia and contests and again, while there are other sites that do this, Bakespace continually seems to draw me back to their site for more information. I've been wanting a centralized space to save all my recipes, and I think this might be it, especially if the site continues to evolve and grow. Check it out, and if you decide to stick around, add me as a friend.