Last weekend, my mom, who is a psychologist and life coach and my brother's girlfriend, Caroline, who is a dance teacher in the Boston area, teamed up to host a one-day dance therapy workshop for women. The event was in New Jersey and as part of it, they hired me to cater the brown bag lunch for the group of women, and to speak briefly about real food vs. processed food and the effect that eating whole can have on our overall well-being.
I prepared a lot of fun things for lunch: grilled herb chicken and eggplant caponata sandwiches on freshly baked bread, a three-cheese whole wheat rotini salad with kalamata olives and red peppers in a basil vinaigrette, and for dessert, these rich, dark chocolate espresso brownies made entirely with whole wheat.
The point of the menu (besides keeping the women nourished during the high-energy day), was to show how whole foods can be delicious, easy to make, and even a little bit decadent. And these brownies in particular are certainly all of the above.
Based on Ina Garten's famous "Outrageous Brownies" recipe, I adapted it to use whole wheat flour, raw sugar, molasses, and real freshly brewed espresso. The combination of chocolates, molasses, and the deep espresso make for a rich, fudge-like treat perfect enough to satisfy any craving.
I know you're going to look at the recipe and freak out over the pound of butter that's listed front and center as the first ingredient. Some of you might freak out in a "heck yeah, Paula Deen, bring on the butter!" kind of way, and others might freak out more in a "oh holy heck, no way, can I substitute Smart Balance?" kind of way.
Here's the deal:
Paula Deen fans: carry on. The rest of you: No, you may NOT substitute Smart Balance. There is nothing smart about that 26-ingredient concoction stuff or anything else of that ilk. The entire point of this recipe is to go with the whole and real. You know what's whole and real? Butter. It's to point out that just a little bit of real indulgence (like butter) goes a long, delicious way farther than a lot of...well...Smart Balance.
Note that this recipe makes a pretty HUGE batch; it's baked in a 12" by 18" by 1" half-sheet tray and can be cut into anywhere from 24 to 40 brownies, depending on how you cut. And the beauty of this recipe is that it keeps and travels well so you can share it with friends. Save 5 for yourself and bring the rest of the batch to the office or to the next party you attend. Or keep them all, but portion them out and put them in the back of your freezer to be doled out slowly over the next couple months when you're in need of something chocolate right now.
Also cool about this recipe? You can make them up to a week in advance (keep wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge or freezer), which makes them ideal for entertaining.
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Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Espresso Brownies
Adapted from Ina Garten's "Outrageous Brownies"
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated raw sugar (such as "sugar in the raw")
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12x18x1 inch baking sheet with parchment paper that overhangs on the sides.
Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat.
While the butter melts, combined the pound of chocolate chips and the chopped unsweetened chocolate in a large glass bowl. Melt in the microwave for 1 minute, then stir, and return for 30 second intervals until melted (stopping to stir each time). It's OK if a few unmelted chocolate pieces remain.
Pour in the melted, hot butter and use a whisk to combine the melted chocolate and butter until smooth. Add the freshly brewed espresso, stir, and set aside to cool slightly.
In a separate extra-large bowl, combine the 6 eggs, vanilla, sugar, and molasses, stirring until well combined. (Don't whisk; you don't want to incorporate air into this batter.)
Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs and stir well until evenly combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, pastry flour, baking powder, and salt, then add to the chocolate egg mixture. Stir just until completely combined, then pour into the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out thoroughly.
Bake in the preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Once ready, let cool completely in the pan, then cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for 3 hours to overnight. These always taste best the second day!
Can be made up to one week in advance. These also freeze very well.