Exotic ingredients

Sunday, November 1, 2015

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.

Barter Brownies
(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.


Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

There are several exotic fruits that I've really wanted to get ahold of--though fruit can be tough to mail! Still, it's too bad international shipping isn't based on distance. You could get your cocoa krispies from the US and I could get my Wafu Salad dressing from Canada (esp since we are both near borders).

Beth said...

Or maybe sometime you and I could meet halfway and deliver the appropriate products to each other! It never occurred to me there might be products I could buy in Canada that weren't available in the U.S. I'll be sure to put Wafu salad dressing on my grocery list!

Angie's Recipes said...

Like yesterday I saw a recipe using fresh cranberries which ain't something you can easily find in our local supermarkets and I don't think I have ever seen the frozen one here either.
Your brownies look rich and wonderfully delicious.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds delicious. I think I'm going to try these. Too bad the cereal is so hard for you to get.

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

Oh, these sound wonderful! Just FYI, if you ever need another both of Cocoa Krispies, you can always ask us -- they're super easy to get here, and I can easily ship a box up to Canada. =)

Monica said...

Oh, heavenly!! I want this so bad, Beth! There is so much amazing food in Chicago and now I realize I must stop by Mindy's. I've heard of it and seen the book but didn't realize it was in Chicago.

Unknown said...

WOW! It looks gorgeous, Beth!

PS. It's Marcela from tortadellafiglia I moved to tastefolio.com! Hope you'll like it :)

Vicki Bensinger said...

Mindy Segal is so nice. There was a recipe she posted years ago when she worked at Charlie Trotters restaurant. I contacted her and she walked me through the recipe on the phone for a good 1/2 hour maybe longer. I haven't seen this book but will be sure to check it out. Of course these cocoa krispy treats will certainly be a hit at my home.

Beth said...

Marcela, thanks for the update - I'll be sure to check out your new blog!
And what a kind offer, Amy. I might just take you up on it! xo

Katerina said...

It is so weird you don't have these particular crisps, we have them in Greece which is so far away from the US lol! Anyway, you were lucky to have someone coming and bringing them so you could make this delicious sweet treat!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Ooh, love the sound of these chocolate gems! And if you ever need another delivery, just message me and I'll mail you a box :)

grace said...

i've been taking cocoa krispies for granted all this time! what a great use for them--i don't really go for them as an actual cereal, but these look amazing!

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, these Barter Brownies not only have a fun name but they look utterly delightful - my kids would adore them, so I bookmarked the recipe and took a note of the cookbook - I will look it up as it sounds wonderful.

Unknown said...

You can probably order cocoa krispies online too. I wonder what the recipe would be like with regular rice krispies as well. Perhaps you can create an even better recipe :)

Kitchen Riffs said...

I actually didn't know Cocoa Rice Krispies existed! Great idea though. And I'll have to buy some so I can make this. :-) Really super recipe -- thanks.

Claudia said...

What a shabby American I am - never heard of Cocoa Rice Krispies! But you're right - the recipe sounds utterly delicious and worth going to the ends of the earth (or the USA) to make these.

handmade by amalia said...

These look to be well worth the extra effort, Beth. Yum.

Anonymous said...

These brownies would be a big hit with our grandchildren, they love rice krispies. I know what you mean about searching out ingredients…when we moved to Florida, I brought some pantry items with us that I knew I couldn't get here. :D

Tricia Buice said...

These sound wonderful Beth - I bet you can order Cocoa Krispies on Amazon. It was always my favorite as a kid :) Have a great weekend!

Mary @ The World Is A Book said...

This looks delicious! I'm totally making these soon. We're chocolate lovers. I guess I should feel lucky we have Cocoa Krispies. It's one of my kids' favorite cereal.

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

I'd be up for a swap meeting sometime! I even had my daughter bring back macadamia nut oil from her semester in Ireland since it was half the price there that it is here! Loving good food is so challenging sometimes!

nancy at good food matters said...

this is so funny to me--that the cocoa krispies of my youth have gained an "exotic" status. the brownies look terrific and I know that those crispy rice puffs give it a compelling crunch.

Unknown said...

These sound so good! I think when you can't get hold of something normally it makes it all the better when you can finally get it!

Julie said...

These look delicious. I will have to check out this baker, I am not familiar with her. Have a great week.

Marcelle said...

Glad you got a hold of some those "exotic" Cocoa Krispies! My kids love that cereal, and I know they will love these Barter Brownies. They really look so chocolaty and good :)

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