Ginger-Almond Brownies

Right before Christmas we had an ice storm hit.

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It was a frosty world.

Luckily, nothing stuck to the roads but trees and power lines were coated with at least 1/2 inch of ice.

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Icy pergola.

Indeed it did make the Christmas lights beautiful, but it wreaked havoc in some neighborhoods.

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Not patio-sitting weather.

We were lucky and just lost a few limbs in a willow tree.

Wouldn’t you know it, but we had a Christmas party to attend that weekend.   No worries about the road but the hostess called around 4:00 saying they had lost power but were soldiering on.   The party would still take place.

Can you imagine preparing a dinner party for sixteen people and having your power go out?  My head would have exploded, but not this couple.   They rocked it.

We were the first to arrive and they had lined their front steps and walkway with pillar candles.    It was beautiful.    Inside, the host was walking around with a head lamp on; the hostess was taking coats and pouring wine.   It was like nothing was amiss.   Their fire places were going and the candles just added a holiday ambiance.

The prime rib continued to cook on the outdoor rotisserie (luckily powered  by a generator)  and the potatoes and a couple of other sides were put into the outdoor grill to cook.   She tossed a green salad with some cranberries and dinner was served.

It was beautiful and delicious.   We all joked that we needed to eat by candlelight at next year’s party as well.

For a final triumph, the hostess brought out delicious brownies which she luckily said only had five minutes left to cook when the electricity went out.   She just left them in the oven to finish baking.

I didn’t want to bother her to write the recipe down for me so as soon as we got home, I went to Epicurious and found what I thought was the recipe.

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Ginger-Almond Brownies
Adapted from  Ginger-Macadamia Brownies in Bon Appetit, July 1995

3/4 c.  (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 individual pkg. Starbuck’s Via (or 1 heaping teaspoon of instant coffee powder)
3 large farm fresh eggs
1 1/2 c. dark brown sugar, packed
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1/4 t. fine sea salt
1 c. flour
2/3 c.  sliced almonds
1/4 c. minced crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 325° F. Prepare a 13 x 8×2-inch glass baking dish. Mix butter, chocolate and coffee powder in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally.

In a stand mixer whisk eggs in large bowl until fluffy (3-4 minutes). Whisk in sugar, vanilla and salt. Add in chocolate mixture. Remove the whisk attachment and add the paddle.  Mix in flour, then almonds and ginger. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs still attached, about 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.

Cut into squares.

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I love the layers of almonds and the bits of ginger.

I adapted the original recipe a bit because I could’t find any macadamia nuts at the store (all sold out wouldn’t you know it) and I only had 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate in the pantry instead of the called for four.    Besides, the brownies I was trying to duplicate were more butterscotch-like than chocolate.

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These are a dense and rich brownie.

This batch was good but I think I am missing something from those Christmas party brownies.   For my next attempt, I will use a regular blonde brownie recipe and add ginger.   Or, perhaps I don’t have the right ambiance and need to turn out all the lights tonight, light some candles, and then try them again.

Happy New Year’s Eve to all.  I hope you are safe and warm where you are.

Happy New Year

Here’s to a great 2014.

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