Bittersweet chocolate is a form of sweetened chocolate that does not have milk in any way shape or form. It is mainly chocolate liquor, sugar,cocoa butter and vanilla. Often, lecithin is added as an emulsifying agent. In the United States of America the Food and Drug Administration requires that bittersweet chocolate has at least 35% chocolate liquor. In Great Britain the amount required is higher (43%). Contrary to what it may suggest, chocolate liquor does not have alcohol. It is basically ground cocoa beans turned into liquid. The higher the amount of chocolate liquor, the stronger the taste of the chocolate. What we know as unsweetened baking chocolate is hardened chocolate liquor. Bittersweet chocolate and Semi-sweet chocolate can be used interchangeably for baking, the difference is that bittersweet has a higher amount of chocolate liquor and less sugar. They are sensitive to temperatures and humidity. Both the semisweet and bittersweet chocolates are occasionally labeled “couverture,” which indicates that the chocolate contains no less than 32 percent cocoa butter (fat) and that they have to be tempered.
Studies have shown that, when eaten in moderation, good quality dark chocolate has antioxidant properties that reduce blood pressure, is an antitussive and an aphrodisiac! I welcome anything that is good for my heart, my health and my sex life! Ja! However, take note that the same property of chocolate (theobromine) that gets you sexually aroused , is poison to cats and dogs, so keep chocolate away from your pets! I know from personal experience because about 10 years ago I had some friends over for my husband’s birthday and someone dropped chocolate cake on the floor. Our dog Cosmo ate it and started convulsing and my friend Paola and I ended up at the veterinary clinic at 2 am! Cosmo survived, but the vet told us to never ever let the dog eat chocolate again.
Inspired by a recipe in Alice Medrich’s book Pure Dessert, these brownies are strong in flavor but delicate in texture. My mother calls them “adult brownies” because of their deep, bittersweet lingering taste. One or two 2″x2″ inch pieces will probably be enough to get your chocolate fix! They have the traditional glossy top and moist center. More crumbly than fudgy. Best when eaten the same day you bake them. Lining the pan with foil paper is a great tip because it makes it so easy to take out, cut and serve, not to mention the cleaning of the pan…”nada”! Like Michael Pollan says in his book Food Rules, “eat junk food as long as you make it”, so allow yourself this treat because it is home made with natural ingredients. I once heard that coffee brings out the chocolate flavors, so I always add a little bit of espresso to my brownies no matter which or whose recipe I make. As a general rule, never over beat brownies!!!! These brownies are dark, decadent and delicious!!!!! Serve as a snack with glass of milk or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and berries as desert. Yum!
Note: In Puerto Rico I find good quality bittersweet chocolate in Bottles or La Hacienda.
8 ounces 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh espresso coffee
generous pinch of salt
1/3 cup and 1 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven 350ºF. Line a square 8 inch baking pan with foil paper.
2. In a double boiler melt butter and chocolate until fully incorporated by stirring with a spatula.
3. Meanwhile, beat eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla for about two minutes until creamy consistency and the mixuture turns light yellow.
4. Whisk in chocolate/butter mixture to egg/sugar mixture.
5. Fold in flour and espresso just until fully incorporated. Do not overmix.
6. Pour batter into lined pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes at 350º F until toothpick comes out crumbly not “wet” with batter. It will not come out totally clean when done.
7. Let cool a bit for about 5 minutes and remove foil paper and “big brownie” from baking pan.
8. Turn over a plate or flat surface to remove foil paper and carefully turn back up again in a cutting board.
9. Cut with large knife into 16 2×2 inch pieces. Let cool completely at room temperature. Serve as a snack with glass of milk or as desert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with mixed berries or raspberry coulis.