I’ve been in a bit of a baking rut, and in reality my habit of baking up new delights has been replaced by making ice cream. In the past two three weeks, I’ve made ginger, rum butterscotch, fresh mint, coffee and lemon crème fraiche. No joke. Thankfully, mom has been helping me eat the aforementioned but let’s be honest, I could have done all of that on my own.
However, this past weekend I decided to brush off my oven mitts and get to work on an idea that I’ve been carrying around for probably almost a year. Really that long. And literally carrying. I’ll explain.
One of my favorite things that I love about Chicago is how many boutiques and small businesses and specialty stores the city boasts and one of these is Vosges chocolate. The shop was only four blocks from my old house, and the perfect place to head in for a browse, a nibble and no doubt an impulse purchase or two. Chocolate impulse buys are always excused.
On one such occasion, I bought this chocolate bar and loved the flavors so much that I knew a copycat brownie recipe was in the pipeline. But life got in the way and it never happened, but don’t you know that I carried that silly chocolate wrapper with me to Michigan all the way from Chicago in the move? When I saw the actual chocolate bar in my local Whole Foods this weekend, I knew the time had come to finally make this brownie dream a reality.
While Sri Lankan coconut ash wasn’t really going to be an easy thing to find, marrying coconut and banana was totally doable. However, the problem with banana is that it can be so overpowering, and I didn’t want this to taste along the lines of chocolate banana bread. I also didn’t want the banana to compromise the texture of the brownies and make them too soft and cake-like and I didn’t want to use banana extract because that just sounds like a gross Now-and-Later disaster.
I played around with a few different proportions and the resultant brownie ended up just as I wanted: enough chocolate, enough coconut and just enough banana to make a different. Want even more? I think toasted cashews would be just swell if you love nuts the way that I do.
I mean, we’re all a little (coco)nuts anyway!
- 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
- 1/2 cup regular cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee, hot
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup mashed ripe banana
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp coconut extract
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Prepare a 9 x 13 cake pan with butter or coconut oil and sugar and parchment paper, hanging over the sides. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powders and hot coffee, a bit at a time until it's paste-like in consistency (you should use all of the coffee, but may not depending on the humidity). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add banana and combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, coconut extract and salt, and mix well, making sure the sides of the bowl are scraped down. Add the cocoa powder paste and beat until the batter is smooth and evenly brown.
- Turn the mixer down to low and slowly fold in the flour, careful not to overmix. Turn off the mixer and fold in the shredded coconut by hand.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Check the brownies at 25 minutes to see if they're done at that point. If not, continue cooking until they are.
- Let sit in the pan for 10 minutes and then, using the parchment, carefully life from the pan and set on a cooling rack to cool completely. Cut into 20 squares.
Written after some dinner, which included some fresh roasted corn.