This week, you get to share in some of the sweet treats we enjoy each Valentine’s Day in the SuzanneSez household. To me, it’s important to spend the holiday showing those around me that they are loved. My boys get small gifts, Ed enjoys a favorite meal, but honestly? They all look forward to dessert.
Our tradition for going on five years now, is to enjoy a Chocolate fondue each February 14th. Among the treats we dip are made from scratch brownies. I’m sharing both recipes with you today.
A few years ago, I found a good recipe for brownies online. As is typical, I fiddled and tweaked that recipe to make it the way my family enjoys best. Sure, boxed brownies are a quick way to have that chocolate fix, but making them from scratch is best for getting the exact chocolate flavor you desire
It is said that the first brownies were served in box lunches in Chicago back in 1893, so that ladies could enjoy a cake like treat during the 1893 Columbia Exposition. The brownie’s denser consistency does make it much easier to eat without a fork, and perfect for dipping in fondue for the ultimate in chocolate decadence.
Suzanne’s Favorite Brownies
- 2 sticks of butter, melted
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla (you can not have too much vanilla, trust me!)
- 3 eggs for chewy brownies, 4 for cake like brownies
- 2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup powdered cocoa (quality counts here-my preferred is Ghiradelli, Hershey’s Special Dark but my absolute favorite is Scharffen Berger)
- 1/2 tsp baking POWDER
- 1/2 tsp salt
- optional items: 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, 1/2 cup peanut butter chips or 1/2 cup mini marshmallows (only choose ONE)
Preheat your oven to 350 and grease the bottom of a 13×9 baking pan.
In a 3 quart or larger bowl, mix together the melted butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and the cocoa powder (this removes any cocoa lumps). Next, crack 3 or 4 eggs into the bowl and continue to stir. Finally, add your flour, salt and baking POWDER and blend until moist.
Now, using a spatula, spread the batter out into the greased 13×9 pan. Don’t worry, it won’t reach all the way to the edges now, but it will during cooking. If you’d like to use nuts, chips or marshmallows. sprinkle them on top and gently push into the batter. I find that when I mix them in, they sink to the bottom and some of the flavor is lost. However, if you’re a brownie purist and don’t want anything extra in your brownies, you’ll find that these taste like some vanilla ice cream was mixed into the batter.
Bake for 20-25 minutes (30 if there are add ins) until the center is slightly firm.
(To see step by step brownie preparation pictures, visit SuzanneSez)
If you asked my boys what they enjoy most about Valentine’s Day, they’ll quickly answer that they love the fondue. We eat all sorts of fondue year round, as evidenced by the fact that we own five fondue pots! The usual closeness that having a meal around of fondue pot fosters is just that much better when we’re sharing yummy, yummy chocolate on Valentine’s Day.
As I mentioned, we’ve got a few fondue pots. The one that I used tonight to refresh my memory of the ratios I hadn’t used before. I like this pot, a Chantal ceramic bowl that sits over a tea light candle. It showed me that you can make chocolate fondues without purpose built hardware, as long as you’ve got a microwave safe bowl. If you’ve got a way to keep it warm, that’s a plus, but not a must. Another option is if you’ve got one of those 1 quart crock pots (typically used to keep cheese dips warm), this recipe will fit in it nicely.
Assemble your tray of dipables before starting your fondue, as the chocolate melts quickly. What you dip is completely up to you, but if you’re at a loss, here are some suggestions:
- Rice Crispy Treats
- Pound cake or Cheesecake
- 4 oz heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp almond extract (optional) If you go for a liqueur, leave this out
- 8 oz chocolate chips or shaved chocolate
OPTIONAL: 1 shot of liqueur. good options are: Baileys, Chambord (raspberry), Amaretto (almond), Frangelico (hazelnut), Grand Marnier(orange), or Kahlua (coffee)
In a 2 quart microwave safe bowl, mix heavy cream, vanilla and liqueur together, then add chocolate.
(A side note here-this is meant to be a decadent treat. You are worth the GOOD chocolate, ladies! Ghiradelli, Scharffen Berger, Hershey’s Special Dark or whatever your favorite chocolate is. If it comes in bar form, chop it up and put it in the bowl. I sometimes will use the Ghiradelli, then add about an ounce or two of my favorite Scharffenberger 70% bittersweet and it really punches up the flavor. Go on, get the good stuff!)
Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, to blend (this will take a minute), then microwave for 30 seconds more. Stir once again and then you’re ready to serve. The nice thing about chocolate fondues is that they don’t solidify as quickly as their cheese cousin. If you don’t have a way of keeping heat under the chocolate, the chocolate will still work well for dipping for a while. Just make sure to put the bowl on a trivet or potholder before placing it on the table.
For younger kids, you can set them up with their own plates and put a little of the chocolate in the center so they can have dipping fun without worrying about the chocolate or pot burning them.
Leftover chocolate (ha! ) can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to a week. Thanks to the heavy cream, it will have a thick, fudge sauce consistency instead of becoming solid.
Here’s to a Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all. Until next week, I hope all your meals are Tasty!