Coffee Bourbon & Boozy Mocha Brownies

This is it: the first truly alcoholic post on the blog. I know I’ve mentioned my bar work here before, and I even put up a recipe for bourbon-spiked cookies a while back, but so far this blog has stayed mostly teetotaler-friendly. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but infusing spirits requires a similar skill-set to baking, and it’s fun, too. So here’s my first infusion recipe: coffee-infused bourbon. I stumbled upon a recipe back in December, made a few tweaks, let the stuff sit for a couple weeks, and ended up with something delicious. It’s very strong and pleasantly bitter, but with enough vanilla sweetness to soften the blow.

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I had grand intentions of using the infusion for espresso Manhattans or Old Fashioneds, but in the end my friends and I drank all of it neat at a party. (Which was also a great use of it, don’t get me wrong.) Luckily, not before I managed to use some in a tray of amazing boozy brownies. Both recipes are below. The coffee bourbon takes a couple of weeks; the brownies take less than an hour.

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Marscapone Brownies

I suppose as a baking blog I’m pretty much obligated to mention Valentine’s Day…as a perpetually single person this holiday is pretty much meaningless to me, but I know a lot of people like to celebrate with chocolate, and so I have a nice, easy, last-minute chocolatey recipe for you all.

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Of course in this part of the world, it’s already February 15th. I spent my Valentine’s Day back in New Zealand at a very unorthodox bachelorette party (no strippers or ridiculous penis-shaped straws/balloons/whatever else; we went wake boarding and had a barbecue) which was wonderful. Also, I’m back in New Zealand, which is a great feeling in and of itself.

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Grasshopper Brownies

Okay, so I didn’t get through quite so many Christmas cookies as I would have liked. I thought about squeezing one more round in, but opted instead to spend my evening making pain au chocolat and baguettes. So not quite so many cookies, but some really lovely breakfast for my friends and if all goes well, a step-by-step croissant tutorial for you guys soon. ‘Tis the season, or whatever. I do have one last holiday recipe for you, because it just didn’t feel right to have Christmas with no mint or white chocolate.

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I actually wanted to make peppermint bark initially, but candy canes do not seem to exist in Byron Bay, so that idea was quickly abandoned. This is a bit of a similar concept, but with an added brownie layer. So you’ve got a chocolatey, fudgy brownie, topped with minty white chocolate ganache, topped with rich dark chocolate ganache. These are very intense and very, very tasty.

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Triple Chocolate & Caramel Brownies

It was the end of an era at work this week: a bartender who’s been here seven years has finally left us for Australia. Very exciting for him, very sad for all of us. It wasn’t a Friday (my usual baking day) but for his last day I figured I should bring in some treats anyway. He’s a white chocolate fiend, so I started with that and this is what I ended up with.

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These are delicious. And pretty easy to make, too! True, you have to make caramel, but that’s as tricky as it gets. The hardest part is waiting for the brownies to cool long enough to glaze them.

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Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

You may have noticed that you didn’t get a sweet recipe last week. I wouldn’t say I had a baking failure, exactly, but they weren’t blog-worthy. Thus the macaroni and cheese and challah. So this week, I went with a classic – something I knew would be delicious and impressive, but also something I’ve made a few times with success. You know, to get my confidence back. And I happened to have some cream cheese kicking around, so here we are.

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These are a combination of a couple different recipes. A nice easy one-bowl brownie recipe topped with a really basic cheesecake mixture, swirled together and baked for just over half an hour. Easy. So what are you waiting for?

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Slightly Spicy Tartine Brownies

I’ve already given you my signature brownie recipe, which will always be my favorite. But a few months back I found the Tartine cookbook in the office at work and I had to try their version out. Tartine Bakery, for those of you not from the Bay Area, is this great little place near San Francisco’s Dolores Park – one of those trendy bakeries that always has a line out the door. I’ve never actually had the brownies there, mostly because I always fill up on their amazing grilled cheese sandwiches instead, but when I saw the recipe I had to try them out.

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And they don’t disappoint. Sweet, rich, fudgy – a definite contender for my favorite recipe. The only downside is that they take longer – I’m a big fan of the one-bowl brownie, and these are a little more involved. The same number of ingredients, but two bowls and a hand-mixer instead of one bowl and a wooden spoon. But if you don’t mind taking a few extra minutes, you need these in your life.

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White Chocolate & Dulce De Leche Brownies

This, I’m sure, goes without saying, but I am not a professional blogger. I work in a bar, which is great for this project because my baking gets done before work, when I still have natural light, but not great because my hours are wildly variable and budgeting time for baking is sometimes a real challenge. This means I don’t generally have time to test things out in small batches or make multiple attempts at a recipe – I just have to throw things together and hope for the best. I’ve been pretty lucky with this technique so far – I’ve only made one thing that didn’t make the blog, and even that will be going up after some very minor fine-tuning. But I’m the first to admit that my Caramel Cookie Cake, for example, was far from what I was aiming for, and I was a bit worried these brownies would be in the same category.

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But that was silly of me, because these are amazing. Rich, gooey, intensely sweet, with a strong taste of caramely dulce de leche and a subtler taste of white chocolate. It’s a great combo, and while I do think these should be eaten in very small doses, I also think they should be eaten by all of you. You will not regret it.

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Best Cocoa Brownies

I almost don’t want to post this recipe here. I’ve gotten so many rave reviews of these brownies over the years that I feel like I shouldn’t tell anyone how outrageously simple they are to make. That in fact all this time you’ve all been one bowl, seven ingredients, and about twenty-five minutes baking time away from a trayful of them. Or maybe I just feel guilty that I didn’t tell you all sooner.

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But here it is. In all its insanely easy glory. According to epicurious, these are so ridiculously tasty because all the fat is pure butter and all the sugar is straight up granulated sugar. Whereas your standard brownie recipe uses chocolate, which brings cocoa butter and sugar of its own into the mix and makes everything a little less perfect. It sounds like it could be true…but I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. Or a professional baker. I just make really good brownies.

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