Some Like it Sweet, Some Like it Hot, I Like it Both
By Chef David Hall, CGC
Typically I am not one for gimmicks or gadgets especially in the kitchen and more so in recipes. You know those silly and weird “Fair Foods” you find a the local state fairgrounds like deep fried butter, spaghetti and meatballs on a stick, deep fried Twinkies and chocolate covered bacon. These are not for me, or so I thought.
I recently attended a meeting of chefs where one of the chefs brought what I initially thought was a gimmick dessert unbefitting a chef. I was offered the dessert and accepted it to avoid an uncomfortable moment. It was an explosively wonderful love at first bite. (Wait! I’m having a moment. OK.) What was the dessert? It was a delicious jalapeno brownie topped with a dollop of sour cream icing, which was then topped with chocolate and almond covered bacon. Being a self-acclaimed bacon aficionado, I initially thought to myself, “How sad to disgrace a humble slice of bacon,” but how wrong I was.
When “deconstructing” (a recent cheffy term), the notion actually makes culinary sense. Chocolate and chili peppers go very well together, if they didn’t, my Mexican friends would not make “mole” (pronounced “MO-lay”), one of the most flavorful and complex sauces in the world. Sour cream icing, well here you have a nice balance between the acidic nature of the sour cream and the sweetness of sugar is a creamy fat suspension. But the chocolate covered bacon? Well I hate to admit it, but you actually have a great balance between the subtle sweetness of the dark chocolate and the saltiness of the bacon; you also have the savory combination of the bacon, nuts and chocolate (as long as you don’t use something like a sweet milk chocolate and stick with the higher cacao chocolates). When assembled, you have a treat everyone will be talking about for a long time and requesting it for next year’s holiday party.
Below is my gluten-free adaptation of his wonderful creation. Try making for yourself first before offering it to others as you may want to adjust the amount of peppers to your liking, or simply eat the whole thing yourself in a dimly lit room with the curtains drawn so you don’t have to share with anyone.
Spicy Jalapeno Brownies
1/2 cup toasted whole almonds
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1 cup 60% Cacao Chocolate, cut/broken into small pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup turbinado
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large jalapeno peppers, minced
4 fresh Thai red chili peppers, minced
1 cup roasted pecan pieces
1 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the lower third of the oven.
2 In a large double-boiler over lightly simmering water, combine the chocolate, butter and salt, stirring continuously until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
3 Remove bowl and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
4 During the five minutes, line a 8” x 8” baking dish, bottom and sides for easy removal, with parchment paper.
5 Pour the rice flour and almond into a food processor and pulse until the nuts incorporated into the flour, set aside.
6 Now add the sugar and vanilla to the melted chocolate mixture, then stir in the eggs one at a time.
7 Add the almond and rice flour mixture and stir until moistened, and then mix but don’t overbeat the mixture, no more than about 36 to 42 strokes.
8 Fold in the jalapeno and Thai pepper and pecans.
9 Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter parchment lined pan, spreading evenly.
10 Bake 20 to 25 minutes. The brownies should puff slightly.
11 Test for doneness using a toothpick inserted into the center, insure it comes out moist but clean.
12 Allow the pan to cool a rack.
13 Run a knife along the unlined sides of the pan to release the parchment paper and brownies from the pan. Lift the edges of the parchment paper to remove the brownies. Cut into squares.
Sour Cream Icing
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup turbinado sugar, run through a spice mill to make an earthy confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 Combine sour cream with turbinado and vanilla and stir gently to dissolve sugar.
2 Whip cream until soft peaks form.
3 Carefully fold in whipped cream, but do not stir.
4 Set aside.
Chocolate Covered Brownies
16 thick-sliced bacon strips**
1 cup 60% Cacao semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup toasted almonds
1 Line a sheet pan (with lip) with a sheet of parchment paper.
2 Lay the bacon on the lined sheet pan.
3 Place on a rack in a large baking pan. Bake at 375° for about 20 minutes or until very crispy. Cool completely. The bacon must be completely crispy with cool.
4 Combine chocolate chips and shortening in a double-boiler over gently simmering water and stir until smooth.
5 Using a pastry brush, gently coat the bacon on one side with the melted chocolate, immediately top with the almonds. Repeat the process on the other side of the bacon. Alternately, coat both side and roll in the almonds.
6 Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm. Store in the refrigerator until service.
** I prefer Trader Joe’s uncured Applewood smoked thick sliced bacon. It has no nitrates and has a great balance of salt and smoke.
1 Cut the brownies in to 2” x 2” squares.
2 Place a large dollop of the sour cream icing in the center of the top of the brownie.
3 Break a strip of the bacon into fourths, and place in the icing such that the bacon points from the center to each corner.
4 Optionally garnish with more chopped almonds.
We are finally launching a newsletter from Thyme for a Chef. It will come out about once a month and will contain articles, recipes, class announcements, cooking tips and techniques and whatever else you might request. We will not “spam” you with frequent emails or sell, give or provide your email to anyone EVER. It will be short and to the point. You can unsubscribe anytime you want if you feel it is not worth your “thyme.” To sign up go to http://eepurl.com/ht7fM and sign up.
Until next week, take time to enjoy each other and celebrate this wonderful time of the year.
Chef David Hall, CGC
Thyme for a Chef, LLC