These are possibly the most delicious, and definitely the most sophisticated, brownies I've ever had. And I'm very impressed that Woody's mother used to cook with bourbon. Mine would have been shocked at such a notion. I know that bourbon balls were part of some people's holiday traditions, but not ours.
While chopping the pecans, I began to think of the limitations of being a locavore. I'm behind the concept, and during the summer, I buy as much as I can from my neighborhood farmer's market. But I looked at the ingredients in these brownies, and realized that neither chocolate nor pecans grow in Minnesota. Nor do we distill bourbon. We could survive without Woody's Black and White Brownies, I suppose, but I would feel the loss.
Melting chocolate and butter. Nothing easier, and nothing richer looking than this combination.
Criss-crossing the sheets of parchment is obviously Woody's work. He does it exactly as Rose instructs, and doesn't even look at the instructions. He certainly doesn't read the instructions and ask petulantly why he has to go to all this extra trouble. Even I could tell that it's a good idea when I saw how easy it was to take the brownies out of the pan.
"Beat in the cream cheese...."
"until only small bits remain."
And this is what they look like when done. I should add that these are excellent brownies as is. I think they're a close relative to the Barcelona Brownie Bars that are in Rose's Heavenly Cakes.
How many people do you know who travel with big chunks of Valrhona white chocolate? Before I knew Woody, my answer would have been, as yours likely is, "none." But Woody travels with multitudes of peculiar things, and frequently has interesting conversations with the TSA people, who have not yet arrested him.
Making the white chocolate buttercream is more fun than making the brownies. I think it's because the white chocolate melts so quickly and beautifully that I just enjoy watching it.
My thermometer gets a workout when Woody is here. I sometimes don't bother, but he always does. He also yells at me if I don't fold it up right away. "You're wasting battery power!" I have no idea if this is true or not, but he's trained me on this so well that he doesn't even have to yell at me any more. (At least not about the thermometer).
This is the finished buttercream. So creamy-looking.
Now, as I read the directions, it is OPTIONAL to do this step: "If desired, lift the brownie out of the pan, use a long serrated knife to level the top, then return the brownie to the pan." Since it's optional, and since I've never in my life felt the need to cut off the tops of brownies, which are actually my favorite part, I wouldn't do it. But it's being done, so if you guess that it's Woody who's wielding this knife, you'd guess correctly. He pretty much did it in one fell swoop too, which was impressive.
Woody says that when Rose frosts a cake, she likes to have swirls and curves, whereas he likes the frosting to be completely smooth. It's a midwestern thing.
For the second time in this recipe, I tell Woody that I don't think we really need a strainer because there are no visible bits of cooked eggs, and it already looks very smooth. Guess who lost those arguments.
This is Woody's extra step--he likes to make an aluminum foil ring so that the ganache doesn't drip down the sides of the brownies. By this time, I've stopped helping, and I'm just admiring his work. I'm also sulking just a bit because I've realized that he's going to take the whole uncut pan of brownies to his Broomball Retreat and Beerfest, and I'm just going to have to hope that he returns with some leftover brownies. Fat chance.