Chocolate may be a girl's best friend, but a batch of sinfully-rich brownies could melt your guy's heart this Valentine's Day. I talked to celebrity chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres to find out what it takes to make the perfect brownie, and what types of chocolate treats any guy would appreciate this season.
Below you'll find Chef Torres' recipe for the richest, most decadent brownie you've ever tasted - and your guy will probably agree. You don't have to be a baking guru to pull off this ultimate brownie recipe but you do need to use high-quality chocolate (not only cocoa powder) to get it just right. If you don't plan on being in the kitchen at all this Valentine's Day, you could round up some of the tantalizing chocolate concoctions from Jacques Torres Chocolate shops in NYC instead. Spanker Lollipops, anyone?
Secrets to the Perfect Brownie
Using high-quality ingredients actually isn't the only secret to rich, gooey brownies. Chef Torres says that melted butter and real chocolate will make brownies super moist. He also recommends the very-American technique of underbaking brownies. "In France, we don't underbake! I learned that in America", says Torres. "I do like them better underbaked - you have to underbake the brownies to keep them gooey. They're richer and they taste better".
You also need to use chocolate with a high cocoa content. Chef Torres says he uses chocolate with at least 60 to 72 percent cocoa content for the brownies served in his NYC chocolate shops.
Here's the ultimate brownie recipe from "Mr. Chocolate" himself:
Jacques Torres' Brownies
Makes about 35 brownies
12 ounces 72% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted OR at room temperature (see notes below)
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
10 ½ ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 2/3 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 15 ½ x 10 ½ x1-inch jelly roll or quarter-sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Lightly spray with nonstick vegetable spray.
Place the 72% chocolate in the top half of a double boiler. Place over (not touching) gently simmering water in the bottom pan and heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted. Remove from the heat and beat in the cocoa powder until well blended. Set aside.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter on low speed until softened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, or until creamy. Add the sugar and continue beating for about 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated. Add the chocolate mixture and beat just until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated.
Remove the bowl from the mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the 60% chocolate and the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, lightly smoothing the top with a spatula.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Note: Make sure to slightly underbake these! Check them as they get closer to the end of the 30-minute bake time so they don't get too firm. Remember that your brownies will be more moist and dense if you use melted butter instead of butter at room temperature. Chef Torres says that melted butter keeps the batter from rising and makes brownies gooey; creamed butter will make brownies more crumbly.
Other Chocolate Ideas for Your Sweetheart this Valentine's Day
If baking isn't your thing -- or you don't think your sweetheart will be thrilled with brownies this Valentine's Day - pick up some chocolate concoctions like The Kissing Game from one of Jacques Torres' shops. The 25-piece box contains bonbons covered in smooches with a playful invitation to kiss underneath; the perfect excuse for you and your sweetheart to indulge this season.
Chef Torres says that some of the other top sellers at his shops are: freshly-dipped chocolate strawberries; Spanker Lollipops; and the Loves Me, Loves Me Not chocolate collection. If you can't justify a trip to the East Coast for a chocolate fix, you can shop to your heart's content online. Round up your fair share of cocoa for hot chocolate, bonbons, and - my personal favorite - Jacques World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Jacques Torres, Celebrity Chef and Chocolatier