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French Chocolate Brownie Torte

Recipe: French Chocolate Brownie Torte

Remarks:

    I think of this dessert when I want to impress my guests or when it's an adult birthday party and I want something fancy but I have to "throw" it together in no time.

    This dessert starts with a brownie mix. When you shop for the mix for this recipe, avoid the mixes that involve the syrup packet or have added chocolate chips etc. This just adds time to your project or too much "goo." You can choose a mix with or without nuts. That's up to you.

    You are also going to bake it in a 9-inch springform pan, just like a cheesecake. It's one of those little disguise things you do so no one will readily guess that they are eating basically brownies from a mix. They won't recognize it at all. Round means you'll cut it into pie-shaped pieces too, so it works as a birthday cake. Candles stand in it marvelously, even just one candle for an adult.

    You are going to jazz it up with liqueur. If you can't indulge in liqueur, just use artificial flavoring (a teaspoon or two) and top it off with water. The flavoring you choose depends on the variation you are making.

    For variations on the theme, see the notes at the end of "Instructions."

Ingredients:

    French Chocolate Brownie Torte

    1 box of brownie mix (enough to make a 9x13 pan of brownies)
    Eggs and oil specified on the mix box
    1 pint of fresh or frozen raspberries
    Chambord raspberry liqueur or Godiva chocolate liqueur

    For the "frosting," a French Ganache

    8 oz semi-sweet chocolate (The better the brand, the better the taste.)
    4 oz whipping cream

Instructions:

    Pour the brownie mix in a bowl. Put in the specified number of eggs (for regular brownies, NOT cake-like). Put in the specified amount of oil. Instead of the water, measure out and pour in the same amount of liqueur. Mix the brownies by hand until fully stirred.

    Carefully plop in the raspberries. Make sure they are not all in one blob. Gently fold the berries into the brownie mix. Spray your springform pan with oil and pour in your brownie mix. You are now going to bake your brownies. Follow the time and temperature on the box for a 9x9-inch square pan, but use a round pan. You will probably add 5 minutes to the baking time because, when you add the liqueur and the fruit, it takes a little longer to bake. You don't want your brownies raw in the middle, but keep an eye on them after the specified time. You don't want the edges to burn either. This dish will be moist. I call it ooey-gooey, but runny would be bad.

    Take the brownies out to cool. Before you serve you will add your ganache. If you want your ganache to be warm and decadent, you can add it just before you serve. If you add it an hour or two ahead, it will still be very moist and runny but not warm. If you put it on several hours ahead or store the dessert in the refrigerator, the chocolate will firm up and you'll have a topping that very much resembles the chocolate coating on a Mounds Bar, only smoother and richer. Ganache is very versatile and so easy to make.

    To make ganache, chop up your chocolate into small pieces. (You don't have to grate it though.) Put the pieces in a mixing bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it starts to bubble on the sides. This won't take long (maybe one minute), so keep an eye on it. When it's just barely boiling, pour the cream over the chocolate. If you have a whisk, it's time to use it; otherwise you can use a fork. Stir together the cream and chocolate until it's smooth, dark, shiny, and irresistible. Stir until all chocolate chunks are melted. This will only take a minute or two. If you still have lumps, it means your cream was not hot enough. If this happens, you can zap it in your microwave for 30 seconds or so on high and stir again. Don't burn the chocolate though. This is the reason I do it on the stove and not the microwave from the beginning. Quality control. It's also more "French" to do it the old-fashioned way. Julia Child would have approved.

    Get ready to pour your ganache over the brownies. Now, there's enough here to pretty much drown your brownies. If you really want to pour it all on, set your brownie torte on a plate with a lip around the side so the frosting doesn't run all over the counter. Place your brownies on your chosen platter. Remove the sides of your springform pan and then pour on the sauce. You can start by pouring in the middle and just have it drizzle down the sides or you can have it run down the sides. It's up to you. For real drama, you can do this in front of your guests. It's sort of like lighting the fire on a flaming dessert. There will be oohs and aaahs from the "crowd." Or you can do it right before your guests arrive and set your dessert on display. It will glisten until the chocolate sets.

    You can decorate the dessert too if you want. Add raspberries on top or line the edge with pecans or walnuts, whole or chopped.

    More variations: You can use orange liqueur like Cointreau or Grand Marnier. With this version, there is no fruit on the inside but you can garnish the plate with mandarin orange segments. Real pretty and refreshing in winter.

    Blackberries inside will make your torte dark and mysterious. You can use Cassis for your liqueur or use a chocolate liqueur--even Kahlua.You can use no fruit, use Kahl˙a as your liqueur, and then garnish with chocolate-covered coffee beans. Be creative!

Serving Suggestions:

Enjoy!

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