Friday, April 16, 2010

Now That's Dark Chocolate! . . . Glazed Black-Cocoa Brownies with Coconut and Rum

It's finer in texture than the finest top-soil. A gentle breeze sends it flying. If not handled gingerly it makes an awful mess, like ashes spilled from a fireplace. What is it? It is utter darkness in cocoa form. Tres noir. Like a night sky with no moon.


Where natural cocoa is mild and welcoming, black cocoa is intense and vaguely threatening. Bitter in a way that only a true chocolate lover can appreciate, it takes no prisoners. A profoundly dark version of regular Dutch process cocoa--but one that has been extremely alkalized--black cocoa is typically used in combo with additional chocolate components.

About this recipe . . .
These brownies have their genesis in a simple fudge brownie recipe that I encountered last year in Midwest Living magazine's February 2009 issue. Those basic brownies were good, but I substantially revised the formula to what I think was very interesting effect. I did this by adjusting the proportion of flour, changing the variety of chocolate used, adding in unsweetened coconut and black cocoa, and reducing the amount of vanilla while adding in dark rum. Finally, I augmented the baked brownies with a shiny dark glaze. 

This recipe makes a tender and cake-like brownie, with a moist and slightly gooey texture. The glaze sets up quickly, but doesn't dry hard; it stays reasonably soft without becoming sticky or drippy.

Glazed Black-Cocoa Brownies with Coconut and Rum

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter or grease a 9" by 13" baking pan. Cut parchment paper to fit the pan and to overhang all four sides by at least an inch, then lightly butter or grease the parchment.

For the brownies:

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
8 oz. dark chocolate
2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. dark rum (I used Myers's Rum, Original Dark)
3/4 cup All-Purpose flour (I used unbleached)
3 Tbsp. black cocoa (I used King Arthur brand; if you don't have this, you can use Dutch process, or better yet Hershey's Special Dark cocoa)
1/2 cup grated unsweetened coconut (if not in your grocery store, you can find this in health food stores; note that it's grated vs. shredded, thus much finer and completely dry vs. moist)
3/4 tsp. salt
1 pinch cinnamon
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. large flake coconut to use as garnish (optional)

In a heavy sauce pan, slowly melt the butter, dark chocolate, and unsweetened baking chocolate over very low heat. Stir frequently and gently, until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, stir together both of the sugars, the eggs, the vanilla extract, and the rum.

Pour in the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, coconut, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and black cocoa.

Fold this into the liquid mixture, and stir to fully combine. The batter will be quite thick, but should still be easily spreadable. Using a rubber spatula, spread the batter evenly into the pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes or so, checking the brownies at 25 minutes. The brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, and the brownie top-crust no longer appears wet.

Let the brownies cool in their pan, on a rack, for about half an hour. In the meantime, prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp. hot water
1 Tbsp. dark rum
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder, or Dutch process cocoa (I would advise against using black cocoa powder in this glaze, or just use a tiny bit; it's bitter flavor might prove to be too much, but, hey, you're the driver!)
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Mix together the hot water and the cocoa powder in a small bowl. Stir into this the melted butter,vanilla extract, and rum. Add the confectioners' sugar and stir until the mixture is completely smooth.

While the brownies are still just slightly warm, carefully remove them from the pan by pulling up firmly on opposite sides of the parchment paper, and setting them down quickly, still on the paper. (The glaze will spread more easily if the brownies are not completely cold at this point.) Using an offset spatula, spread the glaze before it has a chance to firm up.

Let the glazed brownies cool completely before you try to cut them. If you like, use a cookie cutter, and garnish them with a bit of large-flake coconut.

I think these are even more delicious the second day . . . and the third day . . . and the fourth day . . .

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