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Double Rye Brownies

Brownies are omni-season treats, perfect for the lunch box as well as the holiday desert buffet. Chocolatey and usually dense and chewy, the brownie comes in as many varieties as there are enthusiasts who bake them. For the originalists, the genesis brownie likely hailed from Chicago and consisted of butter, semisweet chocolate, cake flour, baking powder, eggs, sugar, and crushed walnuts. They were finished with apricot glaze and refrigerated. The brownie was allegedly created at the request of one Mrs. Bertha Palmer who asked the chef of the Palmer House Hotel to make a cake-like treat she and other ladies visiting the Colombian Exhibition could cary with them without getting messy. Considering the time (we’re talking 1890s), Mrs. Palmer and her lady friends likely wore gloves. So it’s hard to imagine a hand-held chocolate brownie with sticky glaze fitting the bill, but who are we to judge?

Our take on the brownie packs a big bold wallop of rye flavor from whisky and flour. We start by soaking cocoa nibs in Bulleit Rye whisky for about a week. The softened cocoa nibs are strained out and used to top off the batter where they retain the delicious, boozy flavor of the rye in spite of the heat of the oven. Rye flour add complexity and deepens the flavor of the dark roasted chocolate. And to guild the lily, we top the brownies with a cocoa crumble before they go into the oven, so every bite has a little crunch.

We use brown sugar and granulated sugar to deepen the brownies’ flavor as they cook and their edges caramelize. Baking brownies individually in mini-muffin or cupcake tins ensures every bite includes both the soft, chewy center of a rich brownie and the crunchy edge that brownies in the center of the pan never develop. They’re also much easier to pick up and eat then those Mrs. Palmer and her lady friends ate.

We served the bites along with Bourbon Apple Blondies (post to come soon) at the 2016 Whiskeyfest in San Francisco at the Bulliet Bourbon Booth. They’re the perfect brownie bite! Or at least we think so.

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Double Rye Brownies with Crumb topping
yield 24

Cacao Nibs and Rye
2 tablespoons cacao nibs
2 tablespoons Bulleit Rye

Crumb Topping
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup rye flour
1/8 cup cacao nibs, (drained from the cacao nib and rye concoction)
1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

Brownies
6 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons or less Bulleit Rye, (from cacao nib and Rye concoction)
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa), chopped
3/4 cups rye flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cocoa Nib Rye:
Soak cacao nibs in rye for at least a day and up to a week.

Crumble:
Whisk granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, rye flour, cacao nibs, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl until blended. Work in butter with your fingers to form large clumps.there should be no dry spots. Cover and chill.
Do ahead: Crumble can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Brownies:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and sift cocoa over small muffin tins.

Using a double boiler, or in a metal bowl set over a saucepan containing an inch of simmering water (do not let bottom of bowl touch the water), melt the butter and chocolate, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula. Add the rye whisky and sea salt. Let cool.

In a separate bowl, whisk together rye flour, cocoa, and baking powder.

Using an electric mixer, beat eggs, granulated and brown sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in melted chocolate mixture until smooth. Beat in flour mixture.

Pour batter into prepared mini pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with crumb top and bake until brownies are mostly firm, but with a very slight wobble in the center, about 13-15 minutes. (Note that a tester inserted in the center will not come out clean.) Let cool in pan 3 minutes before removing.

Allow the brownies to cool completely before devouring.

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Red Wine Hot Chocolate

It’s Halloween! While we’re not the type of guys that like getting dressed up and partying until the sun comes up, we do find All-Hallows-Eve a mysterious and monstrous night to just hang out with some chocolate, red wine, and a good scary film. This year, the rage seems to be all about red wine hot chocolate. It’s essentially a good homemade hot chocolate recipe and a good amount of red wine. That’s it! I could end the post now to give you more time to go out trick-or-treating with the kids to pick up candy, but let me just add a few more words first before you’re out the door.

The best thing about this recipe is that it’s so damn easy. Which means, it’s also easy to mess it up. First rule, don’t skimp on the quality of the chocolate. While you can use a lesser quality bar like say, Hershey’s Milk chocolate, don’t. If you’re about to add wine to your hot chocolate, choose chocolate that’s on the dark and slightly bittersweet side. There is plenty of sugar in the wine and in the dark chocolate to give it the right amount of sweetness, and since there is already milk added to the hot chocolate why add more? Let the kids have the milk chocolate.

Next rule: use the right kind of wine. This is where you can save a little cash and go for something a little sub-par. A good everyday drinking blended red wine is the perfect accompaniment. Going for a single varietal may seem like the right choice, but after adding milk and chocolate, that Cabernet or Pinot Noir may only be a one note wonder. Although, since this is our first venture into the whole hot chocolate red wine thing, it might be good to explore our options. Since it’s Halloween, we chose to use Apothic Red. It’s a good winemaker’s blend that tastes great on it’s own and pares perfectly with dark chocolate.

Milk is also an important component to this recipe. Here, the best option is going to be whole-fat and organic. A little fat is a good thing now and again, and it’s also used here in a dessert drink which adds to the decadence, so go big. Skim and low-fat milk just wouldn’t cut it in our opinion. We’d rather just drink the wine and eat the chocolate than add either of them to those tasteless, low-fat milks. If you’re going for a non-dairy milk, maybe a cashew or almond milk variety would work and may even make it better. Steer clear of coconut milk. While tropical flavors do exist in wines, those flavors mostly come through in white wines and we wouldn’t want to waste chocolate, red wine, and coconut milk on something we weren’t sure would taste delicious. Lastly, add salt. A pinch of salt brings out the flavors of the chocolate and the wine. Not too much though or it will be a salt bomb.

There’s a million places on the web to find this recipe. We discovered it on thekichn.com which has links to many more sites. Now grab that bar of chocolate, bottle of wine, and whole milk and whip up a batch of this brew. Enjoy it while the kiddies are out trick-or-treating, or if you must join the kids on tonight’s excursion, put the batch in a thermos and enjoy your warm treat while everyone else is freezing.

And one more thing, if this election cycle is causing you to drink (more), add more wine to your hot chocolate and enjoy it with one of our 420 cookies (or a dozen).

Happy Halloween!

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Blood Red Hot Chocolate
serves 3
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup fruity red wine, (we used Apothic Red)
1 cup milk
a pinch salt

Stovetop Method:
Bring chocolate and water to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat; cook, whisking, until melted, about 3 minutes. Add milk and salt, whisk and simmer until desired heat; about 2 minutes. Pour into mugs, top each with red wine and serve.

Milk Frother Method (single serving):
Bring chocolate and water to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat; cook, whisking, until melted, about 3 minutes. Pour 1/3 of the chocolate and 1/3 the milk into an electric milk frother. Press go. When finished pour into a mug and top with red wine.

Optional: Top with whipped cream or marshmallows.