A Sweet Treat Without the Trick: “Death” by Chocolate Brownies

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A note from Maggie

Halloween is a magical time when sweets are encouraged and mischief is almost mandatory. And Katherine has somehow combined the two in her take on wickedly-rich chocolate brownies. One bite is enough to make things go bump in the night (because you know you’ll be craving one as a midnight snack).

Be warned: these treats are quite bewitching and go well with all kinds of spirits (bold red wines or dark beers, in particular). In fact, I’ll be pouring my favorite red wines at the The Wine Bottega in Boston TONIGHT. All sales from tickets and proceeds from wine purchases go to a great cause – helping women who’ve been victims of domestic violence. Grab a ticket here. I’ll pour three of my favorite red wines, inspired by my own little love story.

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For Halloween one year, my college English professor tasked us to write our own obituaries. As freshman, we considered this the height of “college cool” and were equally intimidated and thrilled by the commission. Some channeled Poe with thoughtfully morose eulogies, others were boastful, and a few attempted traditional Halloween humor: Here lies Barry D’Alyve, RIP. I, however, went for realistic.

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For many years, chocolate had been my curse, a trigger of excruciating migraines, so I avoided it like a plague. My sympathetic family planned shared desserts and holiday baked goods around my aversion, but sometimes even the mere whiff of the stuff would start a downward spiral. The worst part of the situation was that I still craved chocolate and the darker and more bitter the better. And it certainly didn’t help that my parents were chocolate fanatics, collecting and nibbling on exotic bars from all corners of the cacao growing world. Chocolate seemed a fitting cause for my untimely demise – at least for this class assignment. A real bittersweet way to go, if you will.

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Thankfully, I have since grown out of my migraines and chocolate is no longer a threat to my mind (my stomach is another situation altogether, of course). To make up for lost time, I like to pack in as much chocolate as I can in each cacao-based dessert I bake. These decadent brownies feature five different instances of chocolate – chips, cocoa powder, cacao nibs, more chips on top, and chocolate sprinkles -and are easy to throw together before a party or another haunted gathering. One bite and your guests will be more than eager to meet their baker.

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“Death” by Chocolate Brownies

Makes: 1 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened chocolate chips or about 3 oz dark chocolate cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon coffee
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • For sprinkling on top: cacao nibs, miniature chocolate chips, chocolate jimmies, and flaky sea salt

Directions:

  1. Set the oven to 350 degrees. Line a quarter-sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large glass bowl, combine the chocolate chips and butter and microwave in 30-second intervals until the butter is melted. Stir the two together until smooth.
  3. To the bowl, add the sugar and stir to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, salt, cocoa powder, and coffee and stir again. Finally, add the flour and stir until just incorporated.
  4. Pour batter into the lined sheet pan and smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle the cacao nibs, mini chocolate chips, and jimmies evenly over the batter. Finally, add a generous sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Place the pan in the middle of the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely before slicing, serving, and packaging.

Materials

  • Wax paper or glassine bags (plain or with skulls!)
  • Cheesecloth ribbon or twine
  • Gift tags

Directions

  1. Tuck a single brownie into each bag. Fold over the top edge and punch a hole through the fold. Thread a piece of ribbon through the hole and attach a tag. Leave the tags blank for guests to write their names or write out the name of the recipe in your spookiest hand.
  2. If hosting a party, set out a small tray with wrapping supplies – plus fountain pens and scissors – next to the pan of sliced brownies. Guests can package a brownie as they leave…if they dare!
Photos styled and taken by Katherine Hysmith of The Young Austinian

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