Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dark Fudge Apricot Brownie with Coconut Vanilla Whipped Cream and Toasted Hazelnuts

~We all have hopes and dreams of working in a field that we are passionate for. While I was in SoCal, I attended an open call for MasterChef. I was accompanied by two very support friends who were more than happy to come and cheer me on. I was a bundle of nerves. Up until this moment, I only cooked for friends who were happy guinea pigs. This would be the first time that I had ever been judged. By professionals, no less.

Amongst several chefs and local food critics, most notable was Top Chef alum Jamie Lauren (!!) who said, “THAT- is a damn good brownie.”

This post is not about the 'accomplishment' of having professional validation. It is a reminder that whether or not you succeed, you lose nothing by trying. Few things are worse in life than leaving with a list of "what ifs".

Thank you to my wonderful friends for your words of encouragement and never ending support in all aspects of my life. And thank you, also for those of you who ordered me to just shut up and do something with my cooking.

*Photo credit goes to Jellybean who was kind enough to insist driving nearly 2hrs through SoCal traffic to deliver me to the MasterChef open call. You will always have a spot at my table <3

Special  equipment:
double boiler or large metal bowl over pot of boiling water
electric mixer
8x8x2 baking pan
Parchment paper
Whip Cream Dispenser
Biscuit cutter (optional)

Glaze Ingredients
18 oz Smuckers Apricot Preserves
1 tbsp orange gelatin powder
¼ cup water

Glaze Directions:
In a small sauce pan, bring water slowly to boil, add gelatin, and mix thoroughly.
Pour contents of preserves into dissolved gelatin and mix.
Bring to a boil for 2 minutes and remove from stove. Strain liquid and preserves. Set aside separately.

Coconut Vanilla Whipped Cream Ingredients
14oz coconut cream
1 vanilla bean
1 ½ cup heavy cream

Whipped Cream Directions
  1. Slice open vanilla bean. Use a knife to scrap the inside of vanilla bean. 
  2. Place vanilla scrapings, heavy cream, and coconut cream into medium bowl. Whisk gently to combine. 
  3. Add contents into dispenser. Chill for at least 1hr.
  4. Shake thoroughly right before use.

Brownie Ingredients
2 sticks unsalted sweet butter
9 oz Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate
1 cup cake flour
1 cup & 6 tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped hazelnuts- toasted
¼ tsp salt

Brownie Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Cut 2 lengths of parchment paper to line bottom and sides of baking dish, across and down. Fold down parchment paper along the sides of the baking dish and set aside.
  3. Set a pot of water to boil. Reduce to medium heat. Place a large metal bowl over boiling water. Place chocolate and butter into bowl. As contents begin to melt, use a small whisk to mix contents thoroughly.
  4. Set bowl of chocolate mixture onto a flat surface. Put a lightly damp folded towel under the bowl to keep it steady. Set aside to cool until lukewarm.
  5. In a separate bowl, use mixer to beat sugar and eggs until well blended.
  6. Blend in chocolate mixture into eggs.
  7. Sift cake flour, baking powder, and salt into mixture. Fold to blend.
  8. Pour 2/3 of brownie mixture into pan. Tap bottom of pan against hard surface to even out.
  9. Evenly distribute apricot preserves over surface of brownie mixture.
  10. Pour in remaining brownie mixture to evenly top surface. Tap again.
  11. Bake for 45-50min. Remove from oven and cool for at least 30min.
  12. To serve, use a biscuit cutter to cut a perfect circle into brownie. Lift carefully and place onto serving plate. Add whipped cream to surround brownie. Top generously with toasted hazelnuts. Using a spoon, drizzle apricot glaze onto brownie and a bit over whipped cream.
  13. Serve immediately.