Wednesday, 22 September 2010
For the past seven years I was employed as a personal chef at Brenchley Manor down in Kent. It was a dream job for anyone that loved to cook as much as I do . . .
I got to stretch my abilities and skills cooking for large silver service dinner parties and cocktail parties . . . and scrummy lady's luncheons . . .
Always a cook, and never the guest . . . kind of like always being the bridesmaid, but never the bride!
Nevermind . . . today I was invited to a delicious ladies luncheon and, now that I am retired and no longer working . . . I could actually attend!
Oh, but it was nice to be on the receiving end for a change!!! I did so enjoy it . . . a delicious strawberry and spinach salad, with feta cheese and these lovely toasted candied almonds . . . a scrummy chicken and broccoli casserole, a pretzel salad . . . and a variety of yummy desserts.
I was asked to bring something chocolatey for dessert and I quite happily oblidged! You all know Todd hates chocolate desserts, and I just love an excuse to bake and sample them!
If there is one thing that lunching ladies like, it's chocolate anything. I often made these delectable little Brownie Bites when I was working for the ladies' luncheon parties. Perfect little bites of Brownie goodness . . . wrapped in scrummy chocolate ganache and decorated to your hearts content.
I had a bag of little chocolate drops from Hotel Chocolate that I was just itching to use and a variety of some other sprinkly decoratey little things that seldom get to see the light of day! (White Chocolate stars, Mixed Chocolate Curls, Cocoa Nibs, Hundreds and Thousands. Let your imagination guide your creativity!!!)
Oh look . . . what's that???
Mmmmmm . . . a lone brownie bite, slightly imperfect and decorated with some sea salt . . .
We can't have that can we? A lone brownie bite decorated with sea salt, all on it's own with no partners in it's crime . . . so to speak . . .
What's a gal to do??? Why . . . I came to it's rescue of course!!
Oh . . . I know . . .
I am a very naughty girl!
*Itty Bitty Brownie Bites*
makes 36 to 40
One, two, three bites they're gone!
For the Bites:
4 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened slightly (1 cucp)
14 ounces granulated sugar (2 cups)
4 large free range eggs
1 TBS vanilla extract
5 1/2 ounces of plain flour (1 1/4 cups)
6 ounces of milk chocolate, chopped into small bits
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into bits
For the Ganache Coating:
8 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped
250ml of cream, heated to the boiling point (1 cup)
2 TBS golden syrup (light corn syrup)
2 tsp vanilla extract
To decorate (if desired):
a variety ot chocolate bits, sprinkles and decorations
Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. Butter and flour several 12 cup mini muffin tins very well. Melt the chocolate for the brownie bites and then set it aside to cool to room temperature. You don't want it to be warm at all. Stir in the vanilla.
Cream the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat the eggs together and then slowly beat them in until combined totally. Drizzle in the cooled chocolate and vanilla mixture, beating it all the while until it is well combined. Fold in the flour just to combine and then fold in both types of chocolate bits. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups by generous teaspoonfuls. You don't want to overfill them. (You may have to wash the pans and recoat and dust to finish using all the batter up after baking the first lot, so be prepared.)
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golossy and dry on top, and just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for several minutes, before carefully dumping them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. (This is where you will realize how well you did or didn't butter the pans!) Cool completely before proceeding.
To make the ganache, break up your chocolate and place it into a narrow, but deep bowl. Stir the syrup and vanilla into the hot cream, mixing it in well. Pour this over the chocolate in the bowl and stir to melt the chocolate, whisking it all together until completely smooth. Using a fork and spoon dip the brownie bites into the ganache, coating them on all sides and allowing the excess to drip off. Place on a wire rack over top of some baking paper and leave to set. You will want to add any sprinkles etc. to the tops before the ganache sets completely. Don't refrigerate or your ganache will cloud up, and you want it to be nice and shiny.