Julia Moskin’s got a terrific story about Brownies in the Dining section of today’s New York Times and I’m delighted that she’s included my recipe for French Chocolate Brownies. I’m crazy about these brownies and love the story of how they came about.
The first time I made the recipe I was in Paris, preparing dinner for friends and thinking I was making a fondant for dessert. Fondant, a creamy chocolate cake, is one of only a handful of sweets the French make for themselves at home. I made my fondant in a square pan (not usual, but not so far-out) and added rum-flamed raisins (again, not usual, but not heretical either). I cut the cake into squares and got the following reaction when I brought it to the table: “Ooh, brownies – splendide!”
Fondant? Brownies? Who was I to argue? Maybe my friends assumed that if an American was offering them a soft, thin, crackle-topped chocolate cake cut into squares, it had to be brownies. It didn’t really matter to me. I liked the recipe in Paris and I liked it just as much when I re-tested it in the States.
Because Julia Moskin is a brownie-purist – she’ll allow nuts, but that’s the limit on add-ins – she understandably clipped the raisins from the recipe. Without raisins, the brownies are a creamy, profoundly chocolaty tender treat; with them, they’re all that with a touch of exoticism tossed in.
If you want to add raisins to the brownies, here’s how to do it:
RUM-FLAMED RAISINS, for French Chocolate Brownies
(Adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and flame the rum. When the flames have died, set the raisins aside until needed. Right before you’re ready to put the brownie batter in the pan, fold in the raisins.