LESSON NUMBER 2
Mise en place
Mise en place, pronounced (MEEZ ahn plahs) or (mi zɑ̃ ˈplas), means- is to have all your ingredients, equipment prepared and ready to go before you start cooking/baking. Translated, “ to put in place.”
This was one of the 1st things I learned at school. It is used in every good professional kitchen around the world, and it should be used in your kitchen. I know what you are probably thinking ” really, I don’t think I need some fancy French verbiage about being prepared”. Let me tell you why and how this preparation will make your baking more accurate, organized and efficient.
Have you ever started to make a recipe, and then half way through realize you needed an extra 1/2 cup of some ingredient that you are missing. You have already done half the recipe so now what? What about this scenario: you are making a recipe and you have now gone through 4 bowls, 5 measuring cups, and 2 pots, all because you were not prepared at the beginning.
Mise en place, is the following – having every ingredient ready and measured, having all your correct equipment ready, and reading your recipe from start to finish BEFORE you even think about beginning.
Step 1: read entire recipe from start to finish
This is important on many levels, to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment before you start. It also ensures effectiveness (a lot of recipes call for butter and eggs to be at room temperature) which usually takes about 30min, you can address this first if you read the entire recipe first
Step 2 : prepare and organize all baking equipment
Before I begin any recipe I always check what is the appropriate size baking pan I will need and prepare it accordingly to recipe. If you every wondered why some of your recipes don’t work out, a lot can be traced back to what size/type of baking pan did you use. Recipes are very clear for one reason alone, the size of the pan will directly affect the baking time. Lets say recipe calls for a 9 X13 pan and you only have a 8 X 8, the cooking time for your recipe will be MUCH longer if you use an 8 X 8 as the depth of your brownie will be deeper and take longer to cook, either that or you take your brownies out of oven at desired recipe time and you have undercooked brownies.
Step 3 : organize all the equipment you will need for your recipe. This might sound silly but you will be surprised how much more efficient you will be as well as less cleanup.
Step 4 : weigh every ingredient prior to mixing anything – this is where you will find the LOVE of your new beautiful scale.
Now you can put away all your ingredients and have a clean organized work space to do the important stuff.
Ok I know that was a bit tedious, but very important. Now on to the fun stuff, your delicious decadent brownie spectacular.
Recipe has been adapted from Will Torrent – Death by Chocolate Brownies, from Chocolate at Home Cookbook
Brownie Base Ingredients
90g/6 tab unsalted butter
225g/ 1 2/3 cup dark bittersweet chocolate – minimum 70% cocoa
200g/1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
70g/ 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons espresso powder (**see NOTE 1: at end of post**)
50g/ 1/2 cup roasted almonds – chopped
50g/ 1/2 cup bittersweet dark chocolate – chopped
500ml – one jar of raspberry jam
STEP 1 – Brownie Base
- heat oven to 325F
- grease and line with parchment a 9 X 13 pan ( I used my removable bottom fluted tart pan)
- place almonds on a parchment lined cookie sheet and roast in oven for 10min, set aside to cool
- melt butter and 225g/ 1 2/3 cup chocolate together in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water
(you can also use a microwave, but melt in very small time increments and stir after each melt)
3. stir butter and chocolate until melted and smooth – set aside to cool slightly
4. use a stand mixer with whisk attachment – add sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and whisk for 5-8 min until mixture is pale and holds a firm ribbon trail
5. fold the butter-chocolate mixture into the egg mixture using a spatula and gently fold by hand. If you want a dense fudgey brownie do not over mix!! **
(**see note below**)
6. sift the flour and espresso powder into the mixture and gently mix by hand until combined
7. add the nuts and chopped chocolate to mixture and mix gently until combined
8. pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-30min until brownies are set
9. cool completely on oven rack
10. when completely cooled spread jam evenly over entire top of brownie
11. freeze for 10-15 min just to get jam to firm up so spreading ganache will be easier
If you have ever had a Kitchen Smidgen brownie you will know that I am very much in the fudgy camp when it comes to brownies. There has always been the long endless debate about whether a brownie should be dense and fudgy or light and cakey. But hey if I wanted cake I would make cake, not a brownie. Just a small piece of trivia : Katherine Hepburn was famous (well yes of course she was famous) but famous for her brownies!! She always said a brownie should be dense and fudgy. Well there you have it, debate has now officially ended. So here is the key to a really dense and fudgy brownie : DO NOT OVER MIX!!! Step 5 to 7 above should all be done by hand and gently, you just want to mix until all ingredients have been combined.
350g/ 3 cups dark bittersweet chocolate (70%) finely chopped
(PLEASE PLEASE use a high quality chocolate here – it will make all the difference)
400ml/ 1 2/3 cup heavy cream
20g/ 1 tab clear honey
80g/ 4 tab raspberry puree
14g/ 1 tab raspberry liquor
80g/ 6 tab unsalted butter – diced
STEP 2 – Ganache
- place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside
- in a small saucepan add cream, honey, raspberry puree, liquor and heat on medium and bring to just below boiling point
- using a small wire sift-immediately pour the cream mixture thru the strainer over chocolate and let sit for 4min (discard raspberry seeds)
- whisk constantly until chocolate is melted and is smooth and shiny
- add the butter and whisk to combine
- pour the ganache over the COOLED brownie base and use an off-set spatula to get an even layer of ganache
- leave to set at room temperature for 3-4 hours
100g/ 3/4 cup dark bittersweet chocolate
45g/ 3 tab unsalted butter
40ml/ 3 tab whole milk
15g/ 1 tab glucose (**NOTE 2 – see at end of post)
2 pints fresh raspberries
STEP 3 – Glaze
- add all ingredients in a small saucepan and set over medium heat, and mix until smooth and shiny
- cool slightly and then pour over the ganache-topped brownie in an even layer
- add fresh raspberries ( I did a heat shape since it was for Valentines Day)
- set in fridge and chill for at least 30min before serving
- bring to room temperature and use a sharp hot knife to cut the brownies
This dessert has many steps and might seem a bit daunting, but it really is quite simple. If it does seem too much for you, omit Step 3: the glaze. Your brownies will still be spectacular. You can also drizzle a small amount of raspberry puree over brownie when serving. I find this dessert quite rich but adding the raspberries cut the sweetness and adds a nice flavour complexity to the chocolate. I love this recipe because it has so many different avenues you can take. With the brownie base you can add a different nut, (original recipe used hazelnuts) you can replace the chopped bittersweet chocolate with white chips. The Ganache has the most versatility: change the raspberry flavour to an Earl Grey Tea infusion, or add orange zest with Grand Mariner liquor. Instead of a dark chocolate glaze, you can change to milk chocolate or white chocolate to add more of a contrast to the layers. Be creative as the options are endless.
NOTE 1 : espresso powder
I use this in ALL my chocolate recipes. The espresso powder will bring out all the beautiful attributes of the dark chocolate. Don’t go crazy on the hunt for this ingredient, you can skip it and your brownies will still be delicious.
NOTE 2 : glucose
Glucose is added at most commercial kitchens in chocolate glazes, it helps with shelf life but it really helps to give the chocolate a lovely shine. You can replace with corn syrup or you can completely delete.