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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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Chocolate Coconut Cashew Granola

Chocolate for breakfast? That sounds like a decadent dessert-type guilty pleasure. When I think of super sweet breakfasts, I imagine waffles or pancakes topped with a huge pile of whipped cream, maybe some chocolate sprinkles or a big drizzle of syrup. Yum! But this is not the way to start a weekday, no matter how tempting. That stuff belongs to the weekend!

I have been craving bananas and chocolate for a few days but didn’t want to go over to the dark, er … dessert side. Instead, the idea of chocolate in the morning morphed into a healthy quick breakfast idea that we enjoyed for a few weeks.

The inspiration for this chocolate granola comes from Kitchen Confidante’s Mocha Coconut Granola Working with what I had in our pantry, I added a few ingredients here and substituted a few others there. As with most granola recipes, this is a jumping off point. You should add whatever dried nuts and fruit you want to create your own custom bowl of hearty granola.

Serve Chocolate Granola with whole milk plain yogurt, some fresh strawberries and a drizzle of honey, or sprinkle over your favorite chocolate muffin mix for a little crunch. Of course, if you’re like us, you’ll have a hard time resisting eating by the handfuls out of the jar.

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Chocolate Granola

Ingredients:
coconut oil cooking spray
3 cups rolled oats, multi grain cereal or a combination
1/4 cup flax seeds
2/3 cup chopped cashews
1/2 cup desiccated coconut, divided
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder, or instant coffee
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cacao nibs

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lightly misting with coconut oil cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the cereal, flax seeds, cashews, and a 1/4 cup of the desiccated coconut. Mix together. In a small sauce pan over low-medium heat, add the coconut oil, agave, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and a small pinch of salt. Heat, whisking until a smooth consistency.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal and mix until well combined. Spread on the baking sheet and bake for about 35 minutes. Checking every 10-15 minutes, gently string the cereal and rotating the pan.

Allow to cool and store in an airtight container for two weeks or longer.