This week’s recipe came about because I had some leftover cream that I needed to use up. I hate throwing food away and with a lot of patisserie recipes you’ve always got something leftover. Whether it’s egg whites from a creme patissiere, egg yolks from meringues, cake offcuts or a recipe that only calls for a certain amount of caramel, cream, jam or mousse.
Most of the time the leftovers can be frozen (this is true of egg whites, cake offcuts, mousse, ganache, italian meringue buttercream and many more) or they have a shelf-life of a few weeks and can be stored in jars or the fridge (this is true of caramel, jam and ganache).
There are a few things that to my knowledge can’t be frozen or stored in the fridge for more than a few days, creme patissiere and cream are two of these things. I didn’t realise cream couldn’t be frozen, until a few weeks ago. I froze some myself to use for a recipe, when I defrosted the cream it looked more like a chalky cottage cheese and it didn’t taste too good either.
I assumed that because you could freeze milk, you’d be able to freeze cream. It seems however that the fat content in cream is too high, you can however freeze cream if it has been made into a mousse or a ganache.
So next time you have some spare cream, my advice would be make it into a salted caramel, mousse or ganache. The caramel will keep for a couple of weeks in the cupboard and can be used in a host of recipes, the mousse can be frozen in a piping bag and defrosted overnight in the fridge to use it. The ganache can be used to make these chocolate orange brownies (see what I did there?).
From looking at the picture, you might think I’ve been really stingy with the portion sizes. These brownies are seriously chocolatey though, the combination of using a ganache instead of melted chocolate to make the brownie mix has resulted in a fudge-like cake with a dense, moist texture. The addition of more ganache on top (wicked I know) along with some cacao nibs, really makes this an adult only brownie recipe. And, if you really think the portions are too small, you can always make them bigger or have a second piece!
This recipe can be made in stages, so you don’t have to make the ganache at the same time as making the brownies. The ganache recipe also upscales really well, so you could make twice the recipe and use the ganache to make some hand rolled truffles, which would make great gifts. It is getting near that time of year after all (I refuse to mention the C-word on the blog until we are in December at the very least).
You can flavour the ganache in anyway you like, it doesn’t have to be orange. You could use other fruit juices (raspberry, lemon), alcohol (stout, spiced rum, bourbon, cointreau), coffee or vanilla. Pretty much whatever you can think of will (probably) work.
If you make the ganache in advance, you just need to warm it up in the microwave so that it has a pouring consistency when you come to bake with it. The ganache is very easy to make, heat the cream and pour it over the chopped chocolate, mix this until it’s evenly combined and all of the chocolate has melted. Then heat the orange juice and add that to the ganache, mixing until the orange is fully incorporated. Leave this on the side to cool and move on to the brownies, if you are making these at the same time.
I’m still working my way through the 10kg bag of Callebaut chocolate I bought at the beginning of the year, this is a great chocolate that I highly recommend, I use the 53% cocoa variety as it’s strong, but very versatile. The chocolate comes in ready tempered callets, which are small drops a little larger than chocolate chips. This makes weighing out the chocolate even easier and also you don’t have to faff around with snapping up bars of chocolate.
I know this makes me sound really precious, but when you have 4 or 5 bars to snap up and little shards of chocolate spray all over the kitchen side, it makes cleaning up even harder. The callets are easier to store than half-wrapped bars of chocolate in their paper wrappers. Callets also make it easier to temper chocolate when using the seeding method of tempering as you have smaller pieces of chocolate to melt than standard squares.
This brownie recipe is ultimately like any typical brownie recipe, a combination of butter, chocolate (in this case ganache), eggs, sugar, flour and cocoa powder. I’ve added a couple of extra ingredients, primarily the inclusion of mixed spice, which adds a subtle warmth and brings out the orange flavour, along with extra orange juice in the brownie mix.
The topic of leftovers brings me nicely to the topping I used for these brownies. The ganache recipe makes more than you need for the brownies, so I decided to top the cooled brownies with a layer of the ganache and a sprinkling of cacao nibs, that were supplied to me by Sous Chef. This makes the brownies even more decadent and the nibs add a really nice bitter chocolate hit to the finished cakes.
- ***Chocolate Orange Ganache***
- 300g Dark Chocolate (60% Cocoa)
- 80ml Orange Juice (about 1 orange)
- 150ml Whipping Cream
- 16g Unsalted Butter (softened)
- ***Brownie Mix***
- 200g Chocolate Orange Ganache
- 125g Unsalted Butter
- 2 Eggs
- 125g Light Soft Brown Sugar
- 100g Caster Sugar
- 75ml Orange Juice (about 1 orange)
- 175g Plain Flour
- 1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
- ½ Tsp Mixed Spice
- ***For the topping***
- 150g Chocolate Orange Ganache
- 1 Tbsp Cacao Nibs (optional)
- To make the ganache, put the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. Put the orange juice in the microwave and bring it to the boil. Put the cream in a separate pan and bring to the boil.
- Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and mix until it reaches a smooth consistency. Mix in the orange juice and the softened butter until smooth.
- Leave on the side until required.
- Heat the oven to 170C (Fan), 325F/Gas Mark 3. Line a 20cm square cake tin with foil.
- In a saucepan, melt the ganache with the butter, then set aside somewhere warm.
- Beat the eggs with the sugars until the sugar has almost dissolved and the mixture has turned creamy and a light beige colour.
- Next beat in the chocolate ganache and butter until evenly combined, then beat in the orange juice.
- Sift the flour, cocoa and mixed spice and then beat into the chocolate mixture.
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick poked through the sugary crust comes through barely clean - the hot chocolate will carry on cooking for at least five minutes after you've taken it out of the oven.
- Let the cake cool and spread the top with the remaining ganache and sprinkle the cacao nibs on top.
- When the ganache has set, cut the cake into portions.
Considering these were a complete experiment, I’m really pleased with how they turned out. Some of you may notice that the picture at the beginning has a portion missing. This is because my boyfriend (who allegedly doesn’t have a very sweet tooth), couldn’t wait until I’d photographed the cake to have a piece. After smelling the slightly warm portion he had, I really struggled to abstain till the next day, but it was worth the wait!
Are you a brownie fan? Do you think you’d like this adapted version? How do you like yours? Squidgy and fudge-like in the middle or cooked through and more like a chocolate cake?
For those wondering, the winner of Patisserie Maison by Richard Bertinet, was Kim Neville, thanks everyone for entering.
Thanks for reading.