Last year I was introduced to a new line of food products made from grape pomace by the ingenious team from Kendall-Jackson Winery and WholeVine Products. The San Francisco Professional Food Society (SFPFS) hosted an event where several professional chefs and bakers shared their experiences working with this new flour and we got to sample their creations. At the end of the event I was given a sample of the Merlot Grapeseed Flour to play with and I was anxious to try it out. In addition, when they discovered my fascination with their products, the WholeVine team sent me more samples of both the flours and oil so that I could use them in recipe development.
Some people ask me where I get my recipe ideas. Often they evolve from ingredients I have on hand that either need to be used or that I am curious to see how they taste or behave when I cook or bake with them. And then there are the requests by family and friends, which always helps guide my cooking and baking directions.
This week’s recipe was created for two of those reasons. I wanted to make something with the Merlot flour I had been given – especially after I tasted all the things that it could be used in. And The Artist and I have a bottle of ruby port open from another meal that was just begging to be combined with chocolate in some form. Hmmmm, I think I will make us a pan of brownies!
I took my traditional brownie recipe and made it with my favorite gluten-free all-purpose flour blend and some of the Merlot flour, keeping in mind that it would absorb liquid like crazy and following the guidelines that Chef Craig Ponsford gave us on how much a recipe could tolerate before it became challenging to work with. There isn’t much of the Merlot flour in the brownies, but it is enough to give you the essence of the wine and an indefinable flavor that is intriguing and delicious. Oh, and by the way, as with many gluten-free baked goods, these brownies were better on the day after they were baked!
If you decide to order some of the WholeVine products, you can choose between grapeskin and grapeseed flours in a variety of grape varietals as well as finishing oils that are fabulous on salads, poured on soups just before serving, and as part of your baked recipes. The flours made from red wine grapes will add a lovely pink to purple color, the more flour you use, the deeper the color.
The Artist is very sensitive to sugar and doesn’t like frosting on cakes, but I really wanted to add another component to these brownies. Ruby Port is a lovely sipping wine, especially suited to the dessert course. Adding it to melted chocolate risks making it seize, so instead I created a powdered sugar frosting that utilizes cocoa powder for the chocolate flavor.
The difference between my version and so many others is that I use melted regular butter which helps cut the sweetness of the powdered sugar. When you combine it with unsweetened cocoa powder and the saltiness of the butter, you wind up with a very balanced and not too sweet frosting that stays creamy and smooth.
If you are looking for the perfect ending for a special dinner or party, these brownies will certainly fit the bill. You can cut them into little bite-sized squares, making them just a little more special and fun to eat!
I hope you have a chance to try the WholeVine products, but these brownies are good made with all-purpose flour (either regular or gluten-free). And if you do not want to make the frosting with alcohol, just use additional butter and/or milk.
Happy Chocolate Monday!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
If you are using regular wheat flour, do not overbeat the batter. You do not want to develop any gluten. If you are baking gluten-free, it isn’t an issue, LOL!
Use your favorite gluten-free all-purpose blend or use a commercial blend such as King Arthur’s or Cup4Cup.
- 1/2 cup/115 g (1 stick) butter, cut into cubes
- 8 oz high quality (such as Valrhona or Guittard) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup flour, sifted (or gluten-free all-purpose blend)
- 2 tbsp merlot grapeseed flour from WholeVine Products (or more flour)
- 1 cup chopped, toasted nuts, preferably walnuts or pecans (optional)
- Chocolate-Port Frosting
- 2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 to 4 tbsp ruby port
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup milk or half and half, or as needed
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch baking pan and line with parchment or foil, so that the paper comes over the top edge of pan. Lightly grease paper.
- Prepare Brownies: In a bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water (make sure water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl), melt butter and chocolate together. Whisk until smooth.
- Transfer to bowl of stand mixer. Stir in sugar, vanilla, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time. Blend for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly mix in the flour and blend until smooth. Do not overbeat. Scrape the bowl and beaters. Stir in nuts if using.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and tap on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until the batter begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center will have moist crumbs clinging to it. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
- Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder. Add the port and melted butter and whisk together. Add enough milk to get a good, thick spreading consistency, whisking until smooth and creamy.
- Frost the Brownies: When the brownies are thoroughly cool, spread them with a thick layer of the frosting. Use your offset spatula to smooth the top and then create decorative swirls.
- When ready, use the paper to lift the brownies out of the pan and, using a sharp knife, cut into 16 squares. Run the knife under hot water and wipe clean between each slice for the cleanest pieces.
- Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for several days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Yield: about 16 pieces
Create a New Tradition Today!
Disclosure: I received products for testing and recipe development. I was not asked to write this post and received no compensation for doing so. As always, my opinions are my own.
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