If chocolate is on your menu for Valentine’s Day, then the recipe for Chocolate Almond Brownies is a winner. This not-too-sweet, rich and dense treat is delicious as a bar by itself, and elegant when plated with a dollop of whipped cream. Adapted from a cake recipe, these brownies derive their rich almond flavor from almond paste.
Almond paste, a sibling to marzipan, is a mixture of finely ground almonds, sugar and water cooked to a smooth consistency. Both almond paste and marzipan are used to decorate pastry and cakes. The major difference between the two confections is the ratio of almonds to sugar. Almond paste contains equal amounts of almonds and sugar, whereas marzipan is almost 70 percent sugar.
The brownie has a storied history. Possibly created in 1893 as a lunchbox treat suitable for ladies attending the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, the first known printed recipe appeared in 1896. By 1907, the brownie was mainstream in our culture, with a recipe appearing in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Farmer. In 1912, legend has it that a Bangor housewife made a chocolate cake forgetting to add the baking powder. Rather than throw it out, the frugal homemaker cut it into flat pieces, naming it the “Bangor Brownie.”
Chocolate Almond Brownies are best prepared in a stand mixer or food processor that will completely incorporate the almond paste. Stored in an airtight container, these brownies will keep moist and fresh for several days and freeze well. The batter also can be spooned into pans of various shapes, hearts included. And who doesn’t love a heart of chocolate?
CHOCOLATE ALMOND BROWNIES
- 7 ounces almond paste *
- ¾ cup sugar
- 4 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 egg
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- ¼ cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the almond paste with the sugar until well blended. (Depending upon the temperature of the almond paste, this may take a while)
- Beat in the butter and then the egg. In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa powder with the whole-wheat pastry flour. Add the dry ingredients to the batter alternately with the milk. Blend until well incorporated.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 -22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.
- Serve dusted with powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, or coconut ice cream.