By Michele Scicolone
For a spirited holiday season, I can’t think of a better dessert than these luscious brownies made with three of my favorite ingredients: chocolate, espresso coffee and grappa.
The chocolate takes two forms, unsweetened squares and semisweet chocolate chips and the coffee is dry instant espresso powder which deepens the chocolate flavor. But the grappa is the best part, adding a sophisticated warmth and richness which makes these brownies different from all the others. A clear, traditional style grappa is best for this recipe.
The brownies can be cut into small squares to add to a cookie tray, or into larger pieces to serve with ice cream, berries and hot chocolate sauce for a dessert. A splash of grappa on top is a nice final touch!
Makes about 16 to 32 brownies
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ounces (2 squares) unsweetened chocolate
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 large eggs
1/4 cup grappa
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
On a piece of wax paper, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.
Place the unsweetened chocolate squares in a small heatproof bowl or double boiler and set it over, not in, a pan of simmering water. When the chocolate has softened, stir until smooth.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer at medium high speed, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add both sugars and beat well. Then add the instant espresso powder, eggs, grappa and vanilla. Scrape the melted chocolate into the mixer bowl and beat until smooth and well blended. At low speed, stir in the dry ingredients. With a spatula, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake will still be very soft. Do not over bake.
Place the pan on a rack to cool. Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container with wax paper between each layer.