Photo by Katya
Second Dinner Blog
Over the top or perfection itself? That is the question that we all ended up pondering to one degree or another. Does this recipe try to do too much with what is, after all, meant to be a simple, basic dessert: the brownie. Or was the pate sucre crust a stroke of baking genius, coming together to make two excellent components even better. I'll let the bakers speak for themselves.
Katya thought it tilted toward the overkill side, but it must be said that she may have contributed to any chocolate excess by using cacao nibs instead of walnuts. And, like Jim, Katya wanted it on the record that she has a standing objection to too-cute names, like fudgy-pudgy, for example. Still, it's to Katya's credit that, not a huge chocolate adorer herself, she made the tart and sent it to work, where it was "much appreciated."
The pie was definitely on the plus side for Rachel (and yes, it was a pie, not a tart--she realized too late that she didn't have a tart pan, so she decided a pie pan would have to do). Although she used a lot of flour in the process of rolling out the crust, it was not tough at all, and it "rolled out well, didn't stick or break." She had to assure her nut-loving daughter that there would be enough walnuts in the pie and had to bake it longer than she thought she should (probably because of the pie pan), but in the end, everyone was happy. "Fudgy indeed. As for pudgy, it's a good thing the pie is so satisfying and flavor-packed that a small slice is plenty."
Kim paid this dessert a compliment by selecting it for her husband's birthday cake/tart/pie. "Chocolate Brownies with chocolate shortbread and chocolate ice cream is about as dreamy a dessert as it gets for Captain Canada." She invited friends to the party and gave them each an individual fudgy pudgy; then she asked them all to make a birthday wish for her husband. Nice idea! "The brownies were really good," Kim reported. "Chewy, creamy, and crunchy from the cookie crust." And the birthday captain? "He was very happy."
The tart also served as a birthday cake for Jen's husband, Mark. (I almost didn't put a comma before "Mark," but then I realized that without a comma, it looks like I'm saying "the husband of Jen's who is named Mark as opposed to other husbands she might have scattered about. We wouldn't want that). Anyway, Mark is all for chocolate in a birthday dessert, but he "does not believe in brownies with nuts." So they substituted cherries macerated in booze, which do fit in with Mark's belief system. Next time they may try a mix of cherries and walnuts. Jen said that this brownie may be her favorite Rose brownie, but she admitted that she also recalled being smitten with the Barcelona Brownie Bar. You can never have too many recipes for delicious brownies!
I thought that Faithy's blog post was going to turn into a "I hate this crust" story. Although it's "very easy to make," "it melts super quick." Faithy kept the crust in the freezer for three days, but still "had to fight with the heat" to keep the crust workable. Then she observed that the shell "had lots of oil seeping out." So you can see why one might think that she wasn't going to be happy with the crust or the shell. But it turns out that though the brownie was "very rich and chocolatey," maybe it's not quite as good as the cookie shell itself. "I really like this cookie."
Vicki admitted that she wasn't especially keen on making a super-rich, super-chocolatey dessert (even though chocolate's her favorite), but when she found out it was National Chocolate Week in the U.K., she had to admit it was kismet. So she got out all her different chocolates (not to mention cocoa) and went to town. Then, just to gild the lily that was already pretty golden, she topped the tart with leftover milk chocolate caramel ganache (a much better leftover than, say, tuna casserole). By the time she finished making the tart, she was over her brief anti-chocolate moment of insanity, and ready to "share this meltingly fudgy brownie wrapped in a tart."
Catherine came smack in the middle on the burning question of whether this brownie tart is too much or just right. (I don't think anyone could accuse it of being too light or too bland). Catherine says it's "over the top" but not "overkill," and I think I can understand that distinction. She made it as a contribution to a farewell party for a work colleague (the colleague herself brought butter chicken and naan--too bad she's leaving!) While we're talking about Catherine, let's just note that she hates to chop nuts and has discovered she can use a meat tenderizer to chop them. I just hope she doesn't try that when she's in a bad mood, or she's likely to end up with pulverized nuts.
Sadly for Kristina, this tart ended up going to her friend Gilad, who was the winning bidder on the prize of a Year of Desserts Made by Kristina. Unfortunately, she rarely gets to taste the Gilad-designated treats, although she did manage to make a couple of chocolate cookies from leftover chocolate pate sucree ("dry and hard but still tasty"). Don't worry about Kristina, though--she wasn't totally deprived. She brought frozen lime tart and dinner rolls from The Bread Bible for her Canadian Thanksgiving celebration, and all was well.
Mendy pronounced the tart a "winner," although he was particularly taken by the crust: "rich and really chocolatey. It is delicious and soft and easy to work with." After all his work, the finished cake ended up with little fingerprints all over it (well, it does look pretty irresistible), but Mendy's magical wife conjured up a brand new cake stand with a glass dome, so the tart was both kept safe from small hands and presented beautifully as well.
There's chocolate in next week's project, too, but don't moan, "Not again!" This is something completely different: a white bread filled with chunks of white chocolate. I think you'll love it. And if you're not planning a trip to Club Med this winter, your kitchen may be the only place you can get Club Med White Chocolate Bread.