The best season of all is here: the season of… chocolate!! I am the type of person who goes a little nuts for dark chocolate with bold flavor combinations. One of my favorite chocolate bars is perfumed with Earl Grey tea, and another is seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. By far the strangest chocolate I ever tried was infused with tobacco, an odd yet pleasing experience. My mom used to make a divine chocolate cake whose batter is generously speckled with fresh chopped basil, and that’s what got me thinking about trying some other herbs with chocolate. Rosemary was my hands-down winner. It lends a warm and earthy aroma to these rich rye brownies which make a sweet Valentine’s Day treat.
Because we grow and mill our own rye flour, I’m always looking for new ways to bake with rye. My friend Ladleah first introduced me to the brilliant idea of using rye flour in brownies. Rye has a more robust flavor than wheat and it pairs very well with dark chocolate, giving these brownies a wholesome edge over brownies made with plain white flour.
I used to struggle with brownies. For some reason, they often seemed to come out too cakey for my liking. Maybe it was from over-measuring the flour, or cutting down the sugar by too much (I am not a fan of overly sweet brownies!) but mostly I think the problem was that I was cooking them too long. I recently found out the type of pan you use can be a factor. Apparently, a glass pan will bake the brownies more quickly. Since baking pans and oven temperatures are variable, I find it’s best to keep a very close eye on brownies when they’re in the oven, testing them with a toothpick at least 5 to 10 minutes ahead of their total baking time. Under-baking or over-baking by even just a few minutes can make all the difference in the world. You want the top of the brownies to be shiny, and the center to feel a bit jiggly. Ideally, a toothpick should come out almost clean, but with a few crumbs on it. In my opinion, a perfect brownie should be rich and dense, but not overly thick and gooey. In striving for this, I did finally end up achieving the brownie of my dreams and now I’m sharing it with you, and hoping you’ll share it with your special someone.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you all, may it be filled with love… and chocolate!
Rosemary Rye Brownies
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
- 6 oz dark chocolate (I use minimum 70% dark chocolate)
- 1/2 cup whole rye flour
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt (if using salted butter, reduce to 1/2 tsp)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup cane sugar
- 1 cup walnuts (optional)
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tsp vanilla
- Break up the chocolate into pieces and place it with the butter in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl on top of a saucepan filled with hot or very gently simmering water. Stir it a little, until melted, and then whisk in half the sugar and all the salt. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the rye flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and chopped rosemary together.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs, remaining half of the sugar, and vanilla for a minute or so, until smooth. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled to lukewarm, pour it into the egg mixture and beat well. Add the flour mixture and fold in gently until fully combined. Now fold in the walnuts. (Be mindful not to over-mix the batter). Line an 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper (leaving an overhang so it will be easy to remove). Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake the brownies for about 20 to 30 minutes in a 325F oven. Be sure to check them 5 minutes early in case they're done. You want the top of the brownies to be shiny, the center to feel a bit jiggly, and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a few moist crumbs on it.
- Let the brownies cool in the pan before removing and slicing into squares.
Yield: Makes 9 large squares or 16 small squares
Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.
Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals. Her web series was nominated for a 2014 James Beard Award. In 2012, she was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category.