Did you remember to change your clocks? As of 2 o’clock this morning most Americans (and others) have returned to wasting Daylight. Oh, I mean Daylight Savings Ends, so I guess we’re using all the sunlight we’ve been saving since spring. Once upon a time we did this in October, now it’s the first Sunday in November. Guess we needed more time to save up all that light. So we get to see the sun in the morning, but our evenings are dark long before the day is over.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s talk Bittersweet Chocolate. Not just the chocolate, but Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds. Yep, today is National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day. Bittersweet Chocolate is dark. It begins with an unsweetened chocolate that has been only slightly sweetened. It also contains no milk, be it liquid or in a dry form. Essentially Bittersweet Chocolate is a mixture of chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter and sometimes a little vanilla for good measure. Chocolate liquor, despite what the name suggests, contains no alcohol. Made from cocoa, the beans are ground down into a liquid, and that liquid solidifies to form blocks of chocolate. Unsweetened, Bittersweet, Semi-Sweet and Milk Chocolates are all forms of cocoa with ingredients added to create a certain type of finished chocolate.
Today we celebrate Bittersweet Chocolate mixed with Almonds. You could melt the chocolate and coat almonds in it to create chocolate covered nut. You could bake a chocolate cake and press ground almonds around the sides. Or you could make an over the top, deeply rich brownie with a layer of almond paste and a bittersweet glaze. That’s what I’ve decided to do.
Chocolate Almond Brownies with Bittersweet Glaze
1/2 cup Almonds
4 oz Unsweetened Chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup Butter
1/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tablespoon Espresso Powder
1 teaspoon additional Espresso Powder
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Cooking Spray as needed
5 oz Almond Paste
4 large Eggs, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1-1/2 cups Sugar
1 cup Flour
3/4 cup Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
Heat oven to 350-degrees. Toast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing halfway through, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop; set aside.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop unsweetened chocolate. Heat chocolate, butter, and cocoa powder in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in all the espresso powder and vanilla. Let cool.
Increase oven temperature to 375-degrees. Lightly coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides. Coat parchment with cooking spray.
Roll out almond paste between 2 sheets of parchment to an 8-inch square, set aside.
Note: Almond paste will be very thin; may have holes and rough edges.
Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat eggs and salt in a large bowl until foamy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until very thick and foamy, about 8 minutes more. Reduce mixer speed to low, add cooled chocolate mixture, and beat to combine. Fold in flour until no streaks remain.
Spread half of batter in prepared pan; smooth top. Lay the sheet of almond paste over batter. Spread remaining batter over almond paste; smooth surface.
For fudgy brownies, bake until edges are slightly puffed but center is still slightly wobbly, about 23 minutes.
For cakey brownies, bake until edges are puffed but center is set 26 minutes.
Pull from oven. Immediately top with chocolate chips and let melt, then spread with an offset spatula to cover top of brownie. Top with reserved almonds and let cool.
Using parchment overhang, lift brownie out of pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares.