“WINTER IS NOT A SEASON, IT’S AN OCCUPATION.” Sinclair Lewis
Is it me, or does everything feel like so much more of an effort in the winter?
Walking to the bus stop, hauling my recyclables out to the curb, stopping to put gas in the car . . . . . these 5 minute activities feel like 20 when it’s cold outside! Just getting ready to go to work in the morning feels like an occupation. The days of grabbing my purse and keys are gone for a while. Now I have to consider my coat, boots, warm socks, hat, scarf, mittens and chapstick!
Do you feel like you are working double duty in the winter? I do! Especially on those days when I have to shovel my way out the door before I can get anywhere!
I take a bus and a train back and forth to my job. It’s about an hour and a half commute one way. I leave when it’s dark. I get home when it’s dark. And a warm cup of cocoa really hits the spot some nights. And in the winter months, baking should not feel like another of my occupations!
This sweet, chewy cocoa brownie cake is just about effortless! It’s made in one bowl. You can eat it straight out of the oven with a scoop of ice cream. Or you can add a layer of chocolate ganache and top it with loads of whipped cream! And perfect with a cup of cocoa!
Lately I am hooked on Guittard Grand Cacao ‘Drinking Chocolate’. Have you ever tried it? It’s a rare red Dutch process cocoa powder and ground chocolate. And I can’t get enough of it! The recipe for this cocoa cake was ever so slightly adapted from their cocoa brownie recipe on the side of the can.
And actually, pairing a slice of this fudgey, brownie cake with a cup of ‘drinking chocolate’ is heavenly. I mean, really, if you are going to comfort yourself with chocolate on a chilly evening, you might as well do it up right!
So pour yourself a cup of cocoa, and get ready to make the easiest, chewiest, fudgiest brownies you will ever taste!
Servings: 1 (8 inch pan’s worth) of brownies. How many slices you want to create is up to you!
Level of Difficulty: 1 bowl and easy!
COCOA BROWNIE CAKE:
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups of Guittard Grand Cacao
- 1/2 cup of unsifted all purpose flour
Center your oven rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 350°F. Spray the inside of an 8 inch pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper, and then spray the parchment paper. You could use a square or a round pan. For this cake, I used an 8 inch round pan with 2 inch sides.
Cut the butter into several pieces and place it in a large glass microwave safe bowl. Microwave it for 30-45 seconds until it has melted. Stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, by hand, one at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Mix in the cocoa, and then flour, until everything is well blended. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. It is best not to over bake. And the brownie may sink just a bit. That’s okay! Cool completely.
If you are simply making brownies, cut them when they are at room temperature. If you are making the cake, slide an offset spatula, or knife around the edges of the pan. Turn the cake onto a cooling rack and remove the parchment paper. Now on to the ganache!
- 6 ounces of chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
- 6 ounces of heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon of butter
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
Place the chopped chocolate in a heat safe bowl. Heat the cream over medium high heat until it just begins to simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate and cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap. You don’t have to stir it yet, just let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then whisk the chocolate and cream until it is smooth. Add the Tablespoon of butter, the vanilla and a pinch of salt. Whisk until everything is combined. At this point, I find it easier to pour the ganache into a measuring cup. Let the ganache sit at room temperature. It will thicken on its own over time. You can also place it in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to hasten the process. Place your cake on the wire rack with the top up. Put a piece of aluminum foil or parchment underneath. Pour the ganache onto the cake, starting in the center. It will naturally flow and drip over the sides. Let the cake sit at room temperature until the ganache is set. Now on to the whipped cream!
- 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 of a cup of powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons of cold water
- 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin
Honestly, if you are making this to serve right away, I would just whip the first 3 ingredients until stiff peaks form. If you want to garnish your cake and you want to be sure your whipped cream is more stable, then add the gelatin. What you will do is place the water in a small microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let is sit for a minute. Then place the gelatin in the microwave for about 10 seconds. It will liquify again. Let it cool down, but don’t let it congeal again. Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on low-medium until the sugar is blended and then mix on medium. When the cream starts to thicken, add the cooled gelatin. Turn your mixer to high and whisk until stiff peaks form. Pipe it onto your cake on top of the ganache or serve it on the side if you would like.
For a fudgey brownie, these are by far, my most favorite recipe. These are most definitely getting me through my winter occupation, and I hope you will enjoy them, too!
Need to take more solace in chocolate? Try these quick and easy recipes: