Friday, November 5, 2010

AMARETTI BROWNIES WITH AMARETTO


Good things have been happening lately, compliments paid. One French author and bread guru recently sent me a message saying “vous avez le talent pour mettre les mets en mots” ("you have the talent to put food into words"). A long-lost and newly-found old high school friend and undoubtedly grade school crush with whom I have been chatting on Facebook lately said to me “you are funny!” and then he continued to wonder if I had been this funny in high school. And then a great friend of mine, a masterful writer, e-mailed me exclaiming “your sh*t is good!” Ah, blunt and to the point as always. But it made me feel good.

Sometimes we all need to hear kind words, be showered with compliments and praise. Especially in rough and tumble days like we are living through now. Demonstrators take to the streets in both of my countries, ranting and railing against something I am not quite sure that they understand. France, as always, comes to a brief but effective standstill while Americans vote against their best interests. Or sometimes the jabs come low and personal, sharp, jagged pains best left ignored yet we all love to rub salt into our own wounds and feel just a little bit sorry for ourselves, don’t we? Our blog brings us down, self-doubt rushes over us, others seem to pass us by in leaps and bounds. Our insecurities rub like sandpaper, taking away every shred of confidence we have succeeded in gathering together in our silk-covered world. Or we worry over the kids or the husband comes home from work with his Sir Grumpiness of Crabby Kingdom crown perched atop his weary head. Life is good but sometimes…well, not so good.


And the rain and the sunshine play a game of hide and seek, making promises as a fickle lover does, teasing with gorgeous golden days of warmth and light only to dash our expectations to the ground as we are pulled once again into a dismal, dreary, depressing, gray embrace. We keep our spirits up as best we can, treating ourselves out to a restaurant, allowing ourselves to be pampered and waited upon, smiling up at le serveur with our most engaging smile, indulging ourselves in a little dessert and we lift our wine glasses in a toast to ourselves and our own fortitude in trying times.

Weekend mornings, more often than not, are now spent in bed, those lovely, delicious grasses matinĂ©es, snuggled down under the covers as if hiding from the big bad world, just the two of us, giggling and sharing secrets. The forest and the vineyards, our other-worldly havens of peace and tranquility, our escape from the real world of a morning, are inundated with hunters who seem to be lurking behind every clump of trees; nowhere is safe. And even if the ring of distant gunshots doesn’t keep us away, the days upon days of rain has turned the forest floor into puddles and our morning would be spent slogging ankle-deep in mud, wet leaves clinging to our boots and pant legs. So we slide down just a little deeper under the blankets and while away the best of the morning before facing the world. Do we complain? No, not a bit. Well, maybe just a bit. But we slog on as if knee-deep in mud and make a game of it all, laughing at what we don’t have, dreaming of greatness. Or getting away from it all. I write and husband writes, I bake and husband tinkers around in the garage, I warm up the coffee and he flips on the tv and we watch the world flit by on the screen, demonstrations and hurricanes, upheavals both natural and political, scandal, reality shows and silly bloopers, people just making idiots of themselves for all the world to see. But sometimes we see heroes and great things happen, sometimes we enjoy warm days and good news, and sometimes, just sometimes, we smile and sit back and allow ourselves to be swept away into our dreams.


So, yes, we all need comfort and compliments, a little tea and sympathy. Kind words and a pat on the back. And something easy and soothing to eat, just a tad luxurious to make ourselves feel pampered. Slide a slice onto a plate, pour a glass of deep, rich red or a warming glass of Amaretto and place the plate and the glass down carefully along the edge of the tub and glide down into the bubbles, hot and steamy, turn the lights down low, just a glimmer of moonlight flashing off of the mirror, close your eyes and take a nibble on a very adult brownie. A subtle hint of almonds, the warmth of Amaretto, a lightness that melts on the tongue, a deep, intense chocolate flavor. Savor something rich and decadent, something earthy, indulgent and, yes, sexy. Just for us.


AMARETTI BROWNIES WITH AMARETTO
Adapted from a recipe in Brownies by Linda Burum


These luscious, smooth, creamy brownies are a delightful change from regular brownies. Rich in flavor, dense and moist, these squares are light and airy and elegant thanks to the whipped egg whites. The top will be crispy, crackling away to reveal the dense, super moist interior with that wonderful hint of almonds. Simply gorgeous!

3.5 oz (100 g) or more crunchy Amaretti cookies, ground to make 2/3 cup measure
5 oz (140 g) good-quality semisweet chocolate*
2/3 cup (150 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
1 cup (200 g) sugar
4 large eggs, separated and left to come to room temperature
1/3 cup (45 g) flour (lightly spooned into measuring cup and leveled)
1 ½ Tbs Amaretto
2 – 3 Tbs slivered almonds for the top

* I used Lindt Excellent Dark Chocolate with Grilled Almonds because not only is it a mellower semisweet chocolate, less bitter than the 70% dessert chocolate I usually bake with, but also to add more almond flavor.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175/180°C). Butter a 9 x 9-inch (22-cm square) square baking pan.

Grind the amaretti cookies to a powder using a robot mixer and then measure out 2/3 cup (about 100 g).

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl or pan over simmering water, stirring constantly as it melts. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Place the egg whites in a medium-sized bowl with a few grains of salt and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with the sugar until smooth, creamy and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating in each until combined. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate and beat until smooth and blended. Beat in the Amaretto. Beat in the flour, then the crushed amaretti cookies.

Using very clean beaters, beat the egg whites for 30 seconds on low speed then increase to high speed and beat until soft peaks hold. Gently yet firmly fold the whites into the chocolate batter, a third at a time, until well blended, no white chunks are visible and the batter is smooth. Scrape into the prepared baking pan and smooth. Sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top.

Bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the top is puffed, a dull brown color and set. Be careful that the top doesn’t burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.


42 comments:

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, this is one of my favorite entries yet. And, no, not just because you mentioned me (and I firmly stand by my comment. Your sh*t IS good) and because the recipe is sinfully luscious brownies. You have such a way with words. I salute you.

Jamie said...

@siangrrl - I will never ever forget that you were my first reader, the one who pushed me and encouraged me to write, there from the start. And your writing takes my breath away, leaves me speechless (which is saying something). I think of you every time I write.

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, thanks for the compliment. We could form a mutual admiration society. And, you have such talent--I just nudged you to do what you were born to do. I was right, wasn't I? (Yes, I'm patting myself on the back).

Foodwanderings said...

Jamie, This is an excellent entry. When I started reading the first paragraph I was thinking, Jamie must have a punch line and a point which came quickly thereafter in the second paragraph. Great writing! Love later on when you said...'a little tea and sympathy' Gorgeous brownies too! Shulie

Jamie said...

@asiangrrl - okay okay you know you are right - we were born to write. And our mutual admiration society already exists, don't it?

@foodwanderings - Thanks so much, Shulie, dear, you are a wonderful friend xo

My Little Expat Kitchen said...

It is a wonderful feeling when people you respect pay you a compliment. It lifts your spirits and blogging seems worthwhile.
I could use a bit of luxury in the form of these brownies right about now. This recipe sounds great!
Magda

Maria said...

These look amazing! Fabulous post!

Kulsum@JourneyKitchen said...

I second what that author said " you have the talent to put food into words" and what great looking brownies those are.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Love your compliments Jamie and they are well deserved. "You have a way of putting food into words" says it all, doesn't it? The other one is more typical of what most of my friends would say. (smile)

Love amaretto, especially in an amaretto freeze. It sure would taste good with your beautiful brownies.

A bientot,
Sam

Rubo said...

Your writing has always evoked some kind of emotion from me; sometimes pulling the air from my lungs and always, always leaving a sweet aftertaste. And then I get some really great recipes, too! :)

Jennifurla said...

I must also add, your pictures are da'bomb

Jan said...

These look great! I especially love that top crust that formed on the brownies! That's one of my favorite parts of a brownie, when you cut through and the top cracks :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Congrats! You do have a lot of talent.

Those brownies must be divine!

Cheers,

Rosa

Eliana said...

Awesome post but more importantly - amazing brownies. Wish I was chomping down on a few right now.

Ria Mathew said...

Beautiful crust, Jamie! I loved your first pic,it had me longing for a slice!

Lost In Cheeseland said...

yumm!! Looks amazing!!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Oh wow now why haven't I thought of putting amaretto in brownies?! It sounds incredible!

MeetaK said...

and you deserve plenty of compliments because you simply rock. but you know that already. love these brownies the flavors are pure bliss!

catty said...

Jamie you deserve all the compliments that come your way. Your story telling skills are inimitable and those BROWNIES! You make me drool ;)

TKW said...

You had me at amaretto.

Ananda Rajashekar said...

I love the way you write the post beautiful and gorgeous bromines Love ur 2nd pic make me drool :)

Sue said...

These brownies do look like they have the best consistency! Just the way I like them...dense, moist, chewy, and chocolatey! And an almond twist to boot! Thanks, Jamie, for the recipe and always lifting my spirits! You deserve all the compliments you receive:)

Junglefrog said...

Beautiful post as always and those brownies... are just to die for. Brilliant idea to add amaretto to it!

Deeba PAB said...

What a gorgeous post my friend... deep, decadent and delicious! I ♥ the way you write, I wish I could live in a corner of your divine blog. So thrilled that life is shining for you my dahlin'... I want to visit Nantes!

Soma said...

What a lovely read. I savor every line of your posts.

Now this is the kind of brownie I like - a grown up way:-) sexy indeed.

theUngourmet said...

Sir Grumpiness of Crabby Kingdom...hee hee. Your posts are always so much fun to read. I haven't had a really good brownie in far too long. I have had a couple of mediocre brownies here and there. These Amaretti Brownies look beyond fantastic.

Marcellina said...

Definately the best comfort food!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Oh daaahling, i totally know what you mean. My life is all about the 3 c's: comfort, compliments, and cake :D. Those brownies look absolutely amazing!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead.
*kisses* HH

Sippity Sup said...

It's hard for me to imagine that your life isn't always sunshine and lollipops, but of course we all feel just as you described at some point or another. You just have a special gift for putting those universal feelings into words that ring true and sometimes sting. But from your pen they always come with hope too. GREG

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

These brownies are just too naughty. Definitely not for kids - grown-ups only!

Acquired said...

OMG Brownies with Amaretto fabulous, I need some now.

margot said...

Hola Jamie, he encontrado tu blog viniendo de otros blog.
Y me ha gustado mucho.
Te he enlazado al mio.
Saludos.

diva said...

oh yes, savour something rich and sexy. Oh yes I do Jamie! Especially with amaretto and a sprinkling of toasted almond flakes on top! x

Kathleen said...

These look like they were made for the Gods!!! Oh I can't wait to make these. Thanks so much for the post.
Kathleen

Heather Davis said...

Another great post Jamie! Is it only Americans abroad who can see the craziness of what is going on? It makes me fearful for my homeland and happy that I am not there. Please someone knock some sense in to them! And these brownies do look like a great way to escape it all. Hx

Amir - The Duo Dishes said...

Amaretto is the best thing ever in life. Ever! I can't wait to try these brownies. Great post!

Greg said...

I always have amaretti on hand and have never thought of putting them in brownies. Shame on me. Love the photos and the recipe.

Karen | Divine Dinner Party said...

If I get close on those delectable brownies, I will not be able to stop myself from eating all of them!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the step by step instructions. Though it looks intimidating, well, am confident to try it because of your clear explanation.

roger said...

I would very much like to make these brownies but dietary law requires I use almond extract instead of Amarretto. Please be so kind as to suggest how much extract I should use. Kind regards,

Jamie said...

@roger: Thanks for visiting and asking the question. I always advise less almond extract than vanilla so I would say start with 1/2 teaspoon then you can add a bit more (not more than and extra 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) once the batter is blended together and you have tasted it.

Ashish Negi said...

Wow, that looks delicious. And I love Amaretti. Posted my attempt at baking amaretti cookies a couple of days back on my blog :) Thanks for sharing

http://quickasianrecipes.com/2012/05/28/amarretti-cookies-bake-some-almond-cookies/

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