B Cubed - Barcelona Brownie Bars
Oh - how exciting! My signed copy of Rose's book arrived. Fabulous. It is now safely stored on my cookbook shelf, nestled next to the Cake Bible and the Pastry Bible.
If you ever find yourself in Barcelona, then you really should try to find this bar. Shoulder to shoulder with a strange mix of locals and tourists. Definitely not for the shy - you have to be pushy to get served, and you really really really need to try the great cava served in those 1950's bowl like champagne glasses accompanied by a sandwich. It sounds weird, but oh so good.
We spent our first Christmas away from family and friends in Barcelona - which was a fantastic way to allay any feelings of homesickness. How can you be homesick with all that great food and cava? That little bar was one of the highlights. The other highlight was this fantastic wine bar outside Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar. Obviously, we did this trip when we were DINKY. My vegetarian husband cast aside his principles for that trip and ate his way through the equivalent of a piglet. Do non pork eating people do the same when offered a tapas of Jamón Serrano or Ibérico?
Apparently this isn't a travel blog, so, enough of Barcelona - what about the Brownies? Mine weren't exactly bars - my silicone mold (in the correct size) didn't arrive in time, so I made do with my oval shaped friand tins. Which, funnily enough are an Australian/NZ interpretation of the financier. Lord knows why we called them friands and didn't stick with financier?
These were pretty simple to make. Toast nuts, make ganache, melt butter and chocolate, beat in eggs, cocoa, sugar and vanilla, beat in diced cream cheese (I miss the old packaging), fold in sprinkling of flour and the cooled toasted nuts, bake, stab, fill
wounds holes with ganache. Job done.
The glossy, oh so glossy mix. I made it in the stand mix up until the point of adding the flour and pecans - I did the last steps by hand.
I made these on Friday night. Which probably wasn't the best time. Given that the takeaway needed to be collected NOW, not in another two minutes when the cakes might bounce back when pressed on top. So, throwing all caution to the wind (duly influenced by a very agitated small person who wanted to be outside NOW, NOW, NOW), I wedged the oven door open and hoped that the reducing temperature and fifteen minute round trip would not completely ruin the brownies. You see, I have never made brownies before. However, I have read alot of recipes, and all of them warn, under pain of death, DO NOT OVERCOOK.
I despaired when we returned home. Surely they were overcooked, I mean, they bounced back, but they didn't feel bouncy enough? And I thought they had to still be mushy on top? My thermapen is on route via Royal Mail, which is in the grip of an extended strike - so I couldn't test the internal temperature. Meh - they would have to do. So I duly stabbed them and filled the punctures with the ganache. They looked like little shiny black oval bricks. So shiny. Rose's picture wasn't shiny. I must have overcooked them.
We sampled them post dinner once they had cooled. I think my palate was so clouded by overcooked disappointment, that I couldn't really taste them. They were fudgy, which is how a brownie should be, right? Given I am not Amercian and my brownie consumption history can be counted on one finger, I am hardly a connoisseur. They were very chocolaty, (I used 72% chocolate), not too sweet, but quite heavy. So heavy I felt like I was still eating it as I lay in bed. Most definitely not cake like. Which is apparently what happens when you overcook them. So perhaps I hadn't overcooked them? But them given the ingredients, so little flour was unlikely to make them cake like. Overcooking might, however, make them quite heavy?
I have eaten two this morning - for the purposes of research, of course. They are still, fudgy, deeply chocolaty, and heavy. And you know what else? I didn't like the nuts last night, and I still don't like the nuts this morning - though for some reason they are slightly less noticeable. I will be baking these again. As soon as my mold arrives. And as soon as my thermapen arrives. And not just before having to depart the house NOW, NOW, NOW. And not with nuts. Or cherries for that matter. But definitely with the ganache. Which was a nice contrast in the bar - but next time I think I will be more forceful and get more into those holes.
And here it is Monday morning and I still haven't posted this entry... I will update to add that by Sunday evening, the nuts had mellowed alot (or perhaps I had?) and I quite liked the texture. And weirdly now, I am craving just one more of those Barcelona Brownie Bars, even with the pecans.