This brownie, baked in a tart pan, gets its moistness from cream cheese and its fudginess from the best-quality cocoa and chocolate. Little puddles of ganache are poured into holes made in the brownie, after it has baked, with a the handle of a wooden spoon. Chocolate doesn't get better than this.
- add 1 cup pecan pieces or coarsely chopped pecans (4 ounces = 113 grams)
- add 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (7 ounces = 200 grams)
- add one 3-ounce bar bittersweet chocolate, preferably Lindt Excellence or Valrhona Caracque, broken into squares (3 ounces = 85 grams)
- add 1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons (lightly spooned) unsweetened cocoa, preferably fine-quality Dutch-processed (1.75 ounces = 50 grams)
- add one 3-ounce package cream cheese, cut into pieces (3 ounces = 85 grams)
- add 2/3 of a 3-ounce bar bittersweet chocolate (see above), coarsely chopped (2 ounces = 56 grams)
- add 1/2 cup all purpose-flour, preferably unbleached (dip and sweep method) (2.5 ounces = 71 grams)
- add 3 large eggs (4.5 fluid ounces = 5.25 ounces = 150 grams), weighed without the shells
- add 1/3 liquid cup heavy cream, at room temperature (2.7 ounces = 77 grams)
- add 1 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar (8.3 ounces = 238 grams)
- add 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (8 grams)
- add Pinch of salt<p><i>Ganache Puddle</i>
- A 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan, with removable bottom, bottom greased, lined with parchment,* and then lightly sprayed with Baker’s Joy or nonstick vegetable spray.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F at least 15 minutes before baking. Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven before preheating.
- Place the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or just until the color deepens slightly. Cool completely.
- In a double boiler over hot water or in a microwave-proof bowl, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring two or three times. If using a double boiler, transfer the mixture to a bowl.
- Beat the cocoa, then the sugar, into the chocolate mixture, beating until incorporated. (If you are doing this by hand, use a whisk.) Beat in the eggs and vanilla. When incorporated, beat in the cream cheese until only small bits remain. Add the flour and salt and mix only until the flour is fully moistened. Stir in the nuts.
- Place the prepared tart pan on a cookie sheet to catch any possible leaks. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread it evenly. It will fill the pan almost to the top.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the batter has set. A toothpick inserted 1 inch from the side should come out clean. The mixture will puff and rise a little above the sides but sinks on cooling.
- MAKE THE GANACHE PUDDLE
- While the brownie is baking, prepare the puddle. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot but not simmering water, stirring occasionally, or in a microwave, using 15-second bursts on high power and stirring several times. Add the cream and stir gently until the mixture is smooth and dark. If necessary (if the cream was too cold and the mixture is not entirely smooth), return it to the heat and stir until totally fluid and uniform in color.
- As soon as the brownie is removed from the oven, grease the end of a wooden spoon (1/2-inch diameter) and insert it into the brownie at 1-inch intervals, all the way to the bottom, twisting slightly as you insert and withdraw it, to create 23 to 28 little holes. Using a small spoon or a reclosable freezer bag with a small piece cut off one corner, fill the holes with the ganache until slightly rounded on top (you will need at least 1/2 teaspoon for each). Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely. The chocolate puddles will sink in as the brownie cools and more ganache can be added to fill in any depressions as long as the brownie is still warm enough to melt it. (If necessary, you can set the tart under a lamp to heat the ganache puddles and make them smooth.)
- Unmold the tart. To remove the parchment, refrigerate the tart or allow it to sit at room temperature until the puddles are firm to the touch. Cover a flat plate with plastic wrap, spray it lightly with nonstick vegetable spray, and set it on top of the tart. Invert the tart, peel off the parchment, and reinvert it onto a serving plate.
- To serve, use a thin sharp knife to cut wedges.
- CARAMEL VARIATION: Caramel blends perfectly with the chocolate and pecans and is wonderful both at room temperature and refrigerated, when it becomes more sticky and chewy. Make a half recipe of the Caramel Sauce and use it in place of the chocolate puddle glaze. It is easiest to pipe it into the holes. The caramel will pipe when warm or at room temperature.
- MOCHA VARIATION: Two tablespoons of Medaglia d'Oro instant espresso powder can be added with the cocoa to give the brownie a slightly bitter coffee edge.
- Wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in an airtight container, room temperature, up to 1 week; refrigerated, up to 1 month; frozen, several months. Try it frozen or chilled if you like a chewy brownie, at room temperature for a softer, creamier texture.
- POINTERS FOR SUCCESS
- Make the holes in the brownie for the puddles as soon as it is removed from the oven to prevent the crust from cracking. Fill them as soon as possible so the ganache melts and settles smoothly into the openings.
- *A 9-inch parchment circle is the perfect size because the bottom of the tart pan is slightly smaller, so that the parchment goes a very little way up the sides, preventing any leaking.