September 1, 2007

Recreating that Black Pearl Flavor

I haven't suddenly stopped cooking, but I have been away (again) from writing on my blog. In the interim, I've found some new favorite recipes and a new favorite chocolate.

First, a shout out to Freya at Writing at the Kitchen Table for her outstanding tiramisu. I have tried numerous so-so recipes in the past, but for some reason her simple rendition made me try yet again, and this time, I was blown away. I have been raving about this recipe and several friends have exhorted me to post again soon, if only to link to the recipe. I also used this recipe as an excuse to try a new ingredient that has recently made it onto local store shelves - pasteurized whole eggs. While they worked fine, I don't think they'll be replacing the local eggs I usually buy (which I have eaten raw many times without incident).

The second shout out is to Myriam at Once Upon a Tart for her outstanding apricot tart. I substituted some juicy peaches for the apricots, since I could only find some sad examples of apricots. Myriam also gets credit for kicking me in the butt to get this post out by delaying the most recent round of Browniebabe of the Month, so that I had no excuse for not posting.

The inspiration for this entry came from my recent exposure to Vosges Chocolates. I first read about Vosges when Heidi posted about Full Moon Brownies. I recently happened to find myself in possession of three different chocolate bars: a Black Pearl, a Barcelona, and a Creole. All three were delicious, but the Barcelona (a dark milk chocolate with smoked almonds and gray salt) is probably my favorite eating chocolate; however, the Black Pearl is what I decided to use as the basis of my new brownie.

Rather than try to source enough bars, I decided to recreate the flavors by going to Penzey's Spices and getting some wasabi powder and black sesame seeds. I started with those two spices, some fresh ginger, and some dark chocolate. After a few, less than successful attempts, I decided to add coconut as well and for some reason that was the magic addition.

I also substituted whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour. I took these into work to some rave reviews and one complete rejection. Today, I tried them out on my family and they were less than enthusiastic, however I love these brownies and I plan to add them to my repertoire. I hope you enjoy them.

Chasing Black Pearl Brownies

8 ounces dark chocolate
10 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small cubs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup peeled ginger (about a 4 inch piece)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut + 1 tbs water
1/2 cup black sesame seeds
1 tsp wasabi powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbs milk
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

10-inch square cake pan
Preheat the oven to 350F.


Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.

Place the ginger in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides, add the coconut, and water (to help rehydrate the coconut so it doesn't dry out the brownies). Process again until both the coconut and ginger are very fine.

Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and add the butter. Stir until the butter is melted and incorporated (this cools the chocolate so that it doesn't cook the eggs).

Add the ginger/coconut mixture, black sesame seeds, wasabi, vanilla, milk, sugar, and salt. Mix well.

Add the eggs, mix, and then add the flour and stir until just combined.

Pour into the prepared pan (I butter the pan, line it with parchment and then butter and flour the parchment).

Bake for about 25 minutes or until mostly set. Let cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack and then remove the brownies directly to the cooling rack to finish cooling. Cut into squares and enjoy.