Buffalo Cauliflower is Way More Awesome Than You’d Think

Freshly coated in buffalo sauce

Recently, I have awoken to the wonders of cauliflower. This unassuming, all-white, brain-resembling vegetable is a lot more versatile than you might immediately expect. It’s fine raw and in salads, but when cooked its texture and flavor come out beautifully. It’s surprisingly creamy! Give it a little love in the form of seasoning and preparation, and it’s outstanding: cauliflower mac and cheese, cauliflower and cheese patties,  mashing cauliflower up like mashed potatoes. Combining it with a long-time obsession of mine–buffalo sauce–was inevitable.

Buffalo sauce is amazing. It damn well should be, it’s just hot sauce and butter! Like most food things though, it’s the interplay that’s so satisfying; the butter is heavy and fatty, which is cut by the bright acidity of the cayenne pepper sauce while at the same time rounding out the cayenne’s edges. I’ve been obsessed with it since my first boneless buffalo wing (although I have seen the light and realize that BONE IN is the way to go), and will jump at the chance to put it on anything. Ever had buffalo sauce in chili? It’s awesome. Clam chowder? Yum.

But my first major run-in with a non-chicken application of buffalo sauce was of the healthifying, vegetarianising variety: buffalo tofu. Which, it turns out, is also great! Tofu is one of those things that if you treat it right, will deliver. It’s become somewhat of a staple for us in the home kitchen. Cut a block into slices, season them and flour & breadcrumb them, give them a good fry and then coat away! Great stuff.

But could there be more? What else could be improved by slathering it in buffalo sauce?

This is how we got to the buffalo cauliflower: was that an actual thing? A Google search revealed that yes, it indeed was a thing. As it would turn out, a glorious thing!

There are lots of recipes out there, but our general conclusion was that all you really need is a batter that is equal parts milk and flour, some cauliflower and buffalo sauce.

Battered and awaiting the pan

Battered and awaiting the pan

For about half a head of cauliflower, a 1/2 cup flour and a 1/2 cup milk seemed to be just enough. Chop the cauliflower up into bite-sized bits, but not too small. You don’t want this to crisp up all the way into oblivion when frying.

I would opine that if you wanted to be a little extra fancy, you might consider an egg yolk or two in the batter, and then a coating of panko flakes for the battered cauliflower. That won’t be shown here, but it’s an idea for next time.

Before battering, put somewhere around 1/4 to 1/2 an inch of  peanut oil in a cast-iron skillet or dutch oven, heating it over medium heat. You can use canola too, but I find peanut oil to give the food a light, pleasant flavor that doesn’t get in the way. Also, peanut oil has a high smoke point (i.e. it takes a lot of heat for it to start producing smoke) which makes it ideal for frying. Don’t use olive oil unless you would like a visit from the fire department.

Battering is simple: dump your equal parts flour and milk together into a bowl, then whisk until combined and sufficiently gooey. Make sure to work out any lumps. Then in batches of handfuls or so, coat the cauliflower in the batter and set aside. After battering I sprinkled a generous amount of paprika and some salt and pepper, because seasoning.

Now go back to your still-heating skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and plop those suckers in there.

They look a little lonely

They look a little lonely

The oil should be hot enough that the cauliflower bits immediately start to sizzle.

Now it's a party!

Now it’s a party!

Make sure that enough of the cauliflower gets its turn being immersed in the hot oil (though this won’t be as much of a problem if you’ve got a dutch oven or deep fryer and can totally immerse your bits. Hehe…bits.) This means flipping and moving the bits around during the cooking process. I will often bunch them up in one side of the pan and give it a little incline to get fuller immersion, but that’s probably not stupendously safe. Just be careful. You don’t want to burn down your house in an apocalyptic grease fire because you sneezed and dumped a pan full of cooking oil onto your medium-high gas flame. Like I said, you could also use a dutch oven or even a stock pot to completely avoid this risk, but where’s the thrill in that? As usual, you’re going for a golden-brown crispiness throughout.

Ooh...getting crispy.

Ooh…getting crispy.

Once they’re sufficiently golden-brown and crispy on all sides, it’s a good time to take them out and leave them on a paper towel that you’ve put on a plate.

Just about ready for the sauce!

Just about ready for the sauce!

The easiest way to coat these things is to put your buffalo sauce in medium-largish, wide metal bowl. You’ll want the sauce to coat the sides a bit.

Sauce in a bowl, or modern art?

Sauce in a bowl, or modern art?

Working with a few bits at a time, toss them into the bowl and, if you’re fancy, give it a few flips of the wrist to coat them. If you would rather not risk your delicious fried cauliflower becoming less-delicious floor cauliflower, you can just move them around in the sauce with tongs.

Buffaloed!!

And that’s pretty much it! I would recommend serving them with a nice creamy blue cheese sauce for dipping/drenching, depending on how you feel about moldy cheeses.

With some left-over mashed potatoes. Why not?

With some left-over mashed potatoes. Why not?

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Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwich

Ohhh man...

Ohhh man…

This is quintessential comfort food. Obviously. But it’s such a perfect trifecta of ingredients and the way they play against each other that I need to blog about it. Cheese, bread and tomato do wonderful things together when combined.

Proto-grilled cheese

In its elemental form

The bread is a warm, soft, mild base. The starchiness sets us up for a hearty starting point. Cheese is the fat. It’s smooth, sharp and loaded with delicious dairy calories. It’s savory and builds on that starchiness, adding flavor and a difference in texture. But by now, we’ve got a lot of dry breadiness and a whole lot of heavy, fatty cheese. While this is delicious even by itself, it’s a great opportunity for something bright, fruity and acidic to cut right through and give us some contrast. That’s the tomato. That’s perfect.

It’s also, if I may make an observation, the same sort of interactions that go on with most pasta dishes: starchy pasta, acidic tomato sauce, and cheese to top it off. Ha HA! Chew on that one for awhile!

That's starting to look like a sandwich

That’s starting to look like a sandwich!

Once you’ve got the basics, you can pretty much go nuts with this one. In fact, I reserve the right to go nuts with this one in the future.

But for know we’ll keep it simple. That cheese up there is a cheddar-Gruyere “melange” from Trader Joe’s. The important part is that to do this right, get a whole block of cheese. Slice it off into bits. Eat some of the cheese bits as you make the sandwich. Eat a few more bits. What was I saying?

Oh yes, sandwiching. Slice up some tomato and put however much you want. The balancing point here is “will this sandwich completely fall apart on the griddle?” so go by that. I always season tomatoes with a little bit of salt, pepper, and sometimes some dry oregano and garlic powder if there’s any around. Drizzling with a slight bit of olive oil is also called for here. That leafy stuff up there is chopped fresh basil, which is just awesome to have around.

At this point you might also want to start heating up a cast-iron skillet or frying pan, along with a few tablespoons of olive oil (no need for extra virgin for frying). You can use whatever fat you want really, but olive oil is just the best in terms of flavoring and crisping the bread.

Stacked and almost ready for the heat.

While the oil starts to heat up, cap off your half-sandwich with another piece of bread.

Oooh, artsy fartsy.

Oooh, artsy fartsy photo.

A note about the pan: cast iron is best because it will retain heat a lot better than something made out of aluminum, which will mostly just conduct it into the food. The trade off is you need to “pre-heat” the skillet for a little bit. But it’s worth it!

Pre-heat it on medium-low heat for a few minutes with the oil in there, and then when you’re ready to go turn the heat up to medium/medium-high. Yes, we all dream of that perfect golden-brown crispness, but that will come on medium heat as well! In fact, keeping the heat lower rather than higher will keep everything from burning while ensuring enough time for optimal cheese meltification.

If you have a grill press, you can use that to press down on the sandwiches and pleasantly mash them together. Otherwise you can alternate keeping pressure on them with a spatula. You only need to flip them once, so take a peek after about 2 minutes to see how it’s doing. Flip when the bottom part is a gorgeous golden-brown color, and cook the other side until it matches. You will not need as much time for the other side.

Nommmmmm *drool*

Now isn’t that just wonderful?

Now GO EAT IT!!

Fall Apple Confections! Part 2: The Flight of the Apple Turnovers

Bogey on your six! IT'S SO GOOEY ARGRGR!!

A squadron of apple turnovers, on its way to drop some nom bombs.

So, apple pie is great. We know this, and we confirmed it in Part 1 of this post. But after eating that pie, I developed a craving for something else, but also apple. But not pie! I wanted an Apple Not-Pie but with delicious, flaky, buttery crust! I wanted a Pie Not Born of Pie Dish!

Maybe I’ve been corrupted by the single-serving, one-off nature of American consumer culture, but there is something very compelling about the individualized pastry that is an apple turnover. One, you do not have to share it. It is a self-contained, complete “thing” that you can greedily consume wholesale. Indeed, in contrast a pie is a communal experience; your slice of a pie is by definition a less-than-whole. Even though a turnover is smaller, you still get to eat the whole thing. Sometimes that can be satisfying.

Two, an apple turnover is covered in pie crust. In fact, the only way to get to the gooey, delicious interior is by tearing through this crispy, buttery envelope. Thus it’s a bit of a different beast to eat it than with a pie; you can just get in there with your bare hands and savage the thing. In other words, the pie crust gets to share the spotlight with the filling moreso than in a traditional pie. 

Mmm...gooey

Bursting with apple deliciousness. Mmmmm

So if you plan on making turnovers, the crust had better be right!

We started with a basic pie crust recipe. Actually, we started with a recipe for a Rosemary Crust from a recipe for a Tomato-Goat Cheese Tart (from A Year In A Vegetarian Kitchen, by Jack Bishop). We (my girlfriend and I) had made the tomato tart during the summer, and the crust was amazing so we reused it for a mushroom tart. For the turnovers, we replaced the minced rosemary in the crust with cinnamon.

Ingredients in the pie crust:

  • 8 tablespoons butter (Yes. Eight. Do it.)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon/apple-friendly spices
  • about 4 tablespoons ice water

The easiest way to do this is with a food processor. Throw the flour, salt and cinnamon into the work bowl and give it a few pulses to combine it. Chop your butter up into little buttery cubes, and now throw them into the processor.  Pulse it ten or so times until it looks crumbly. Add a tablespoon of the water and pulse for one second. Once you’ve done this four times, pulse it again for longer (3-4 seconds or so) and watch. Does it come together into a cohesive, doughy ball around the blades? If it does then you’re good to go! If not then keep it up with the water, one tablespoon at a time.  You want to end up with a cohesive blob of dough. Don’t over-do it with the food processor, as that will hurt the dough’s ultimate flakiness. Carefully take it out of the food processor and knead it into a smooth ball, then flatten that ball into a disc about 5 inches in diameter. Wrap it in plastic and throw it in the fridge for an hour. 

You can use your favorite apple turnover/pie recipe for a filling. There are a ton on Google, so there is bound to be something you like. This is the one we used. It’s from Spoonful.com, and we only used the “filling” part of it.  Personally, I like the ones that incorporate some citrus (the linked one includes orange juice) to balance the sweetness of the other ingredients and retain some tartness in the apples.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees!

Once the dough is ready, you’ll need to prepare a reasonably-sized work surface by dusting it with flour. Then lop off a piece of dough and roll it out into a square/rectangular shape. The idea is that you will be able to put a few spoonfuls of filling in the center and fold it over to make a triangular pouch. You’ll have to judge how much dough to use based on how much filling you have. Keep some cold water on hand, as you can use that to help seal up your turnover seams. Pressing down along the edges with a fork will help too. Our recipe called for brushing them ever-so-lightly with milk, and then sprinkling some cinnamon-sugar on top. You should end up with something that looks like these bad boys:

Flight prep

You’ll notice that they are on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Do that too. Into the oven they go for 25-30 minutes! As usual, you’re looking for a nice golden-brown color.

And here they are:

Ready for take off!

Ready for take off!

Oooh, how wholesome!

Oooh, how wholesome!

Fall Apple Confections! Part 1

P1030434 (1600x1172)

Longstanding cultural traditions have told most of us that fall season is harvest season. Of course, thanks to modern agro-business and the complexities of globalized, industrial farming almost any Sunday trip to your typical affluent-country supermarket can be harvest season. But this is a blog called “Nom Threat,” and my name isn’t Michael Pollan, so we won’t be getting into that here.

So however disconnected we may find ourselves from the fruitful soil, we’re still very happy to get into the harvest spirit and love ourselves up some Autumnal Bounty. In modern day New England (I live in Massachusetts) what this translates into is apple-picking season. Most of us don’t farm anymore, but the concept of “the harvest” is still alive and well in how we view the fall. Apple picking on a local farm is a way to get a brief little commoditized slice of what it’s like to really reap a harvest–the kind that 400 years ago would be the difference between surviving the winter and starving to death.

Today however, 30 bucks gets you a bag, a tractor ride and access to row after neatly-trimmed row of low-hanging, ripe apples!

Tractor ride! Wee!

Easy transit to easy pickins!

Clearly labeled!

People in the orchard.

Wandering through bountiful rows.

Indeed, these days the problem is making sure you actually eat that big pile of apples before it turns to mush.

Bag o' Apples

Currently in their non-mush state.

The photos above are from an apple-picking outing with my parents and my girlfriend. We went to Parlee Farms in Tyngsborough, MA. If you’re in the area, I’d recommend it. Though it was a little crowded (like anywhere this time of year) there were plenty of apples to pick, and they were all delicious.

Plus bonus: mom baked an apple pie!

Apple Pie

Golden-baked fall nummy nums! Mmmm…

Thematically, this is just great as well. I mean look at that thing. It’s a huge pile of sliced apples, sugar and flour that’s just barely contained by the pie crust surrounding it! It rivals the cornucopia in its ability to convey a warming sense of plenty; it is itself a little celebration of the Harvest Season! What makes this pie a lot more fun is that now there’s a narrative behind it. First, we went out to where the apples were. Then, we picked them off the trees and brought them home. Finally, we peeled and sliced them, dropped them into a crust with some sugar and transformed them into a warm, cozy fall treat!

Huzzah! Let us feast, for we have reaped the harvest and it is time to revel in its bounty!

And also to put a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on it!

Ice Cream and  Apple Pie!

Warm pie. Ice cream. Oh man

More apple goodness incoming!

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Cheddar-Jalapeno Burger

Burger and Beer

My girlfriend is a vegetarian, and we usually cook delicious veggie-friendly meals together. Even though I’m not vegetarian, this works great for me since the food is good, it’s healthy and we get to cook together. It’s also probably the most significant barrier between me and a crushed bathroom scale. But since my girlfriend is away visiting a friend this weekend (I’m writing this on a Saturday), I seized on the opportunity for culinary selfishness and gratification; I decided that it was burger time.

In fact I rather like being mostly-vegetarian, partly because it has made me appreciate my meat dishes. I still typically manage to have meat a couple times a week (usually when eating out) but now it’s more of a treat. But since I no longer have the metabolism of a 17-year-old, a cheeseburger is a special treat.

Indeed, I will be scanning the meat dishes of a restaurant menu while we’re out, inevitably come across a cheeseburger, and decide that ordering it would be irresponsible (mostly to me and my cardiovascular health). So even when it’s “meat time” at a restaurant I will usually try not to get a burger.

Honestly, there is no real reason why anyone should eat a cheeseburger, other than hedonism. It’s like the savory version of  a birthday cake; you know it’s not really doing anything for you nutritionally, but you are definitely going to eat it. But every once in awhile I throw all that reasoning away, because the only real reason to eat a cheeseburger is because it is delicious

Eating a cheeseburger is about embracing hedonism.

So when I make one of these things at home, you can be damn sure I’m keeping that in mind.

Here’s what I started with:

Pre-burger

  • 1/3 pound 85%/15% grass-fed, pasture-raised ground beef
  • hamburger pretzel bun
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • smoked cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper

One cast iron for the peppers (left), the other for the burger (right). Not strictly necessary but I wanted to more closely control the heat for each one. Tip for cooking the burger: you don’t want the skillet/griddle so hot that a drop of water instantly evaporates of of its surface. It’s better if it bubbles for a few seconds and then evaporates.

cast iron hardware

Heat up the skillets on about medium. You can check heat by dripping some water onto the cooking surface. You should also pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees now, since we’ll be toasting that delicious pretzel bun later.

Since the skillets are cast-iron, they retain heat very well but take a few minutes to heat up to cooking temps. This is a good opportunity to prepare your burger patty.

The easiest way to do this is to roll the ground beef into a ball (i.e. a meatball) and then gently flatten between the palms of your hands. Don’t overdo it with this! You want your patty to be firm enough to keep its shape, but if it’s too dense it will ruin the texture and won’t cook well.  Then salt and pepper both sides. I like to be generous with the pepper, since this will help sear on a nice crust later:

raw patty

Now you can just pop that in the fridge while preparing everything else.

Put a little cooking oil (I use peanut) in your skillet, and give it a minute to warm up. While that’s happening, you can slice your jalapeno into rings. Then toss it in the skillet for a few minutes:

P1010993

With the jalapenos, it’s more of a sweat than a saute, but a little bit of browning is acceptable. In other words, cook them over medium heat until they soften up a bit, but don’t make them crispy.

Next, slice a piece of cheese from that block of smoked cheddar, cut the pretzel bun in half and put the cheese on the top half of the bun, like this:

P1010994

Put that on a baking tray and slide it into the oven. Wait for bun to toast and cheese to melt. Check periodically to make sure the bun does not burn.

While that happens, cook the burger! Again, make sure that a few drops of water will bubble for a few seconds, then evaporate off your skillet (rather than evaporating immediately) before you start.

I will sometimes lightly rub both sides of the burger with a drop or two of regular olive oil before putting it on the skillet. This helps it sear nicely.

P1020001

P1020002

You should really only be flipping once. Give it about 3 or so minutes a side to get to about medium. Remember that even after it’s taken off the heat, the burger will continue to cook for a bit in its own juices. Keep this in mind when trying to get to your favorite doneness.  If you press on the center of the cooked side of the patty, the firmer the resistance the more done the burger is.

While the burger is cooking is a good time to remember the bun! When the cheese has melted to your liking, take it out of the oven and get it onto a plate. We’ve got a little bit of preparin’ to do:

P1020006

Spread a healthy spoonful of mayonnaise onto the non-cheese side of the bun. This will provide a layer of fat that will keep the burger’s juices from sogging up your bun. It will also mix with the juices, and be delicious. If you like pepper, sprinkle some pepper on there too!

P1020004

Your kitchen should smell amazing right about now.

P1020005

When the burger looks just next to done, shut off the heat. The skillet will still be hot. Scoop it up and out of the pan with a spatula and onto the mayo-ed part of the bun. Scatter the jalapenos around on the cheese side:

P1020012

Now you have a burger. Combine with beer for best results.

burger close up 2

Nom!

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Cinnamon-Chipotle Brownies! With ChocOrange Ganache!

double_layer

We were snowed in recently, so of course it was time to bake. I wanted to do something rad, especially since I had a snow day for work, and a spicy-chocolate confection was exactly what needed to happen. I checked Epicurious for some inspiration, and found a Mexican brownie recipe that would use no more than 2 eggs (since there were only 2 left in the fridge).

I started with these,

20130208_141145

Input.

And some of these (about 1/2 a cup):

Almonds_skillet

Inputs are as follows.
My changes are bolded:

  • about 3-4 oz 65% bitter-sweet Callebaut chocolate (chopped from a block)
  • about 2 oz 99% unsweetened Callebaut chocolate (chopped from a block)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick of butter (I wanted a fudgier consistency, so I used a whole stick)
  • 1 cup sugar (I’m using demerara/raw sugar, not brown)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder    
  • 1/8 tsp freeze-dried instant espresso
  • 1/2 cup whole, raw almonds (I didn’t blanche or peel them, but they still turned out fine)
  • 2 large eggs

Pre-heat: 350 degrees

Prepare: an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking dish.

Grease it up with butter, and sprinkle some flour over that butter so that it sticks. Give it a shake to knock out any extra flour. This is so that the brownies do not stick to it. Put it where you’ll be able to find it later.

And…..go!

The almonds will take a little time to toast, so I did that first. There are two ways, depending on how fussy you feel like being: put the almonds on a baking sheet and stick them in the oven at like, 400 degrees? Then watch them until they get a little color.  If you insist on photogenic processes like me however, you’ll want the fussy way!

Dump the almonds in a dry cast-iron skillet, turn the heat to medium. Give them a shake every so often to keep them from burning. Eventually they’ll start to crack a little and make sizzle/popping noises. When a good amount have done that, they should be ready: Nuts!Put on a plate, and then somewhere to cool down to room temperature. This might be the freezer, depending on some ratio of time, your planning skills, and patience.

Okay, chocolate time.

Use. Good. Chocolate. Please. This is the heart of the recipe, and it’s so worth it to splurge a little and get the good stuff.

I use blocks of Callebaut, that I chop into flakes with a big knife: mmm...chocolate
I was pretty rough in measuring it out. If you have a kitchen scale, that would be most ideal. I don’t so I judged it by how much the initial block weighed according to the label, and chopped off what looked like the right fraction of a pound for the 3 and 2 ounces. Often times slightly more is simply going to mean more chocolatey, which cannot be a bad thing. But! The unsweetened chocolate is BITTER. This gives the brownies a great chocolatey depth, but don’t mix up the proportion of dark to unsweetened.
Time to melt things!
You can chop your stick of butter (just use a whole stick, really it’s fine) into neat cubes, or you can lazily dump the whole thing into a pan. It’ll melt either way, over low heat.melted_butter
Now dump in that chocolate! Stir until it’s all smooth, shiny and brown.melting_choco&butter
Kill the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes.
Use this time to deal with the almonds and sugar. You’ll need some species of food processor. I’m using an immersion blender’s chopping attachment.blades

It's ok, it's not liquid!

It’s ok, it’s not liquid!

Add electricity!hand_blend
Really grind up those almonds. The finished product should be visibly indistinguishable from the sugar, with no chunks. Think you’ve ground it enough? Do it one more time!
Once you’ve sufficiently disintegrated the almonds, gradually stir the mixture into your velvety chocobutter. Heat is still off! 
almondsugar_into_chocobutter
Once this is nice and combined, it’s time for eggs. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture, but it looks like chocolate with sugar that has been mixed in.
For best consistency, you should add the eggs individually, but also beat them before adding them: 
Eggs_whole_to_beaten

Those small Pyrex bowls are awesome. I love them for preparing ingredients ahead of time.

Time to dump your eggs into the almond-sugar chocobutter: 
add_eggy
Do this again with the other one. Once both are in,
Shiny!
we can add the dry stuff:flour, salt, cinnamon, chipotle pepper, and instant espresso.
You’ll want to combine these into a bowl first, 
dry_unmixed
and then give them a thorough whisking: 

dry_whisked

This will get rid of clumps and keep your ingredients evenly mixed.
Stir it into the pot gradually,  
stirring_in_dry
and only just enough to combine: 
dry_mixed_gooey
If you’re using demerara sugar (like I am) it will probably still be a bit grainy. Don’t worry, it’s cool.
Now gloop that on into the baking dish (which you prepared ahead of time) and into the oven! 
from_pot_to_oven
Set a timer for 25 minutes.
Prepare for frosting.
So at first, I thought it’d be clever if I made some orange-flavored icing for these:
ill_fated_icing
Really, I was eager to make use of some orange-flavored milk that I had made previously. So I squeezed a couple oranges (strained with the top of a cocktail mixer) and mixed it with some confectioner’s sugar, splashed a little milk in there, and had a goopy little mess. It was way too sweet and runny, and for some reason I thought adding (homemade) chocolate syrup would make it better. This produced a brown, runny, saccharine mess that didn’t even taste like orange anymore. So I threw it in the sink.
Having abandoned that idea, 

ill_fated_icing_crossedout

I decided to see what could be done about a ganache. I had no cream, unfortunately, which is what started the whole icing mess in the first place. But I thought about it: “Come on….cream is fat, butter is fat? I swear I’ve used butter in a ganache before….” So I looked it up on Google and was rewarded with a recipe for butter and chocolate ganache: Hurrah! I ignored all proportions in the recipe; I just needed to know that it was possible.
I prepared a double-boiling arrangement:  
water
After boiling the water, I turned it down to a low simmer.

double_boiler

Then I chopped some of the 65% bittersweet chocolate (maybe 2 oz?) and threw it into the bowl with some (about 3 tbsp) of butter: 

ganche_chocandbutter

I was feeling sassy, so I also added a splash of the orange milk and a capful of a “bourbon orange extract” that I had made from a bourbon-infusing adventure. Honestly, I don’t think it did much flavor-wise, but the bit of milk probably helped keep the texture smoother than it would have been.
Keep stirring it with a spatula, until it looks about like this: 

ganache_melted

Hooo man, there it is! Kill the heat.*Beeeeeep*
The brownies have baked! 
baked
Those nostrils are from where I stuck in a knife, making sure it came out clean: 

baked_silly

The brownies didn’t like it, but too bad! Slice that ill-tempered confection up into sixteenths!

Smear each piece with ganache: 
frosted
So basically:  

ganaching

Now, chocolate ganache on a chocolate brownie? YES. But we’ve got still got that little bit of chipotle. This adds a slightly smoky flavor and contributes to the depth of the chocolate, while leaving a little heat in your throat—and that’s amazing. In fact, at this point we’ve got some deep, smoky, rich, heavy flavors. We need some contrast! So let’s zest it up with some…well, orange zest!

zesting_collage

In retrospect, I’d advise to just put that zest in with the ganache and mix it up. Here, what I did was to spread, little bit by little bit, the zest onto the frosted brownies. This worked because the ganache was still warm and pliant. In the picture below, you can see bits of zest in the top two, before  I spread another layer on top to keep the texture smooth: 

final_frosting

That’s it! Cinnamon-Chipotle Brownies with Orange-Zested Chocolate Ganache Frosting!

GO!

EAT!

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