It happens all the time. You find a great recipe that uses cheese you can't find locally. Or a fruit or vegetable that you've never seen for sale. Or a seasoning that's common in another country, but that none of your favourite stores carry.
Do you give up and make something else? Or do you go to the ends of the earth to make the longed-for recipe happen?
This is a tale of the latter.
When Andrew and I were in Chicago in July, we visited Mindy Segal's restaurant, Mindy's Hot Chocolate, as part of a food tour. We loved the chocolate drink we were served, and I promised myself I'd try her new cookbook as soon as I got home.
When I got back, I flipped through the pages of this gorgeous cookbook. Everything looked delicious, but the recipe that really called out to me was Barter Brownies. Apparently, the first time Mindy tried them, she loved them so much she bartered one of her own recipes in exchange for this one. High praise indeed from a James Beard-winning cook.
And I was all ready to make them, when I was stumped by the exotic ingredient in question - Cocoa Rice Krispies.
Apparently those of you who live in the US can buy Cocoa Rice Krispies any time you like, but that's a pleasure denied to us Canadians. To the best of my knowledge and research abilities, Cocoa Rice Krispies are not sold here.
Fortunately, my aunt was visiting from California in a few weeks, and I put in a special request. And she delivered, bringing the cereal in her suitcase. I didn't waste any time making these wonderful brownies, and my family didn't waste any time polishing them off with smiles on their faces.
And the best part is this - the recipe only calls for 1 1/2 cups of Cocoa Rice Krispies, which means I can make a few more batches before I have to put in another call for a special delivery.
(from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal and Kate Leavy)
For the brownies:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
3/4 cup (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
For the brittle:
8 ounces dark milk chocolate (Note: I couldn’t find dark milk chocolate anywhere, so I used 4 ounces dark chocolate and 4 ounces milk chocolate. It worked perfectly.)
1 1/2 cups chocolate puffed rice (e.g. Cocoa Rice Krispies)
To make the brownies:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9 x 13” pan or glass baking dish with parchment paper, leaving 1 inch of overhang on the long sides.
In a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) barely simmering water in a pot, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula. Keep warm.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the sugars on low speed to combine. Add the warm chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
Crack the eggs into a cup or bowl and add the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking powder. Whisk in the salt.
On medium speed, add the eggs and vanilla, one egg at a time, mixing briefly to incorporate before adding the next, approximately 5 seconds for each egg. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.
Add the dry ingredients all at once and stir until the dough comes together but still looks shaggy. Do not overmix. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
Pour into the prepared pan. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through the baking process, until a thin crust appears on the top and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the pan draws out wet crumbs, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in the pan.
To make the brittle:
Once the brownies are cool, in a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) barely simmering water in a pot, melt the dark milk chocolate (or combination of dark and milk chocolate), stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula. Stir in the puffed rice. Using a large offset spatula, spread the brittle over the brownies in an even layer. Refrigerate until chilled.
Lift the brownies out of the pan using the parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Trim the edges. Cut the brownies and serve at room temperature.
The brownies can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.