Well, time for another edition to The Beach House blog. As I was thinking about what to write about this time, I thought I would write about Creole food. But, my daughter suggested I share my brownie recipe that I make with local Dominican cocoa.
The farmers in Dominica have recently started growing Cocoa trees. They grow quickly and start producing cocoa pods in a short time. It is also not as labor intensive as some of the other crops that they grow. Remember, Dominica is very steep, it rises to 5,000 feet. The farming is done on these steep hills.
Once the cocoa pod is ripe, it will be orange and about the size of a fist, the farmer picks it. He then will break open the pod and remove the seeds. The seeds are about the size of a coffee bean. He takes the seeds and lays them out on black plastic to dry in the sun. He is careful that they stay out of the rain, as that would ruin them. When they dry he will roast the beans.
The farmer then sells the roasted beans to the local women. This has become a wonderful cottage industry for the women. They grind the cocoa beans, which makes a buttery mix. They may mix in some local nutmeg or cinnamon. The women then roll the cocoa butter into a small log and let it dry.
I use the local cocoa in my homemade brownies. I prefer to use cocoa logs that haven’t had the spice, but the guys at the dive shop prefer it with the spices. Here is my recipe. The brownies have very little flour in them, they are almost like a flourless cake. I like mine with lots of walnuts, but they are not always available on the island.
Patti’s Chewy Brownies
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 rounded teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F (163 C). Oil the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a microwave proof bowl.Melt the butter and stir it all together.You could also melt it in a double boiler.
Stir mixture occasionally until the butter has melted and mixture is quite warm. Don’t worry if it looks gritty, it will become smooth once you add the eggs and flour.
Remove the bowl from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes until it is only warm, not hot.
Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then, add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
When the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the flour and stir until fully incorporated, then beat with the wooden spoon or spatula for 40 to 50 strokes. (The batter will be quite thick). Stir in nuts, if using. Spread evenly in lined pan.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out almost clean (you want it to be a little moist with batter).
Cool completely then remove from pan.Allow to totally cool befor cutting into squares