Valentine’s Day will be here soon and that time to create a rich chocolate dessert for my special someone. I have prepared many brownie and chocolate cake desserts, but this was my first red velvet dessert. Basically what red velvet is, a dessert that includes cocoa powder and red food coloring in the batter to give it that signature look of red velvet. For added flavor, I added some espresso powder that is specially made for chocolate desserts. It’s a finer blend, but you could also use instant espresso powder from the local market. If it’s Valentine’s Day, then there can never be enough chocolate when it comes to dessert. Fortunately for us, there are many great brands of melting chocolate available that give your desserts that special touch.
Yields 5 hearts
1/8 cup espresso powder for baking or instant espresso
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons red gel food coloring or 3 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
2 to 3 tablespoons hot water
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick unsalted butter)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
8×8 baking pan
Spray oil (such as Pam) or shortening
2 1/2 x 3 heart cut-out
*Note that I prepared a double batch this day, so I used a larger 9×13 pan
You Will Also Need (Suggestions for Decorating):
12 oz bag dark chocolate melting wafers (I used Ghirardelli)
Assorted colors of sugar crystals
Toasted coconut flakes
Tips~ I suggest going to the cake decorating dept. of your local dept. store or specialty kitchen store and purchasing the gel food coloring. It’s much more concentrated and you will use less than the liquid food coloring. Make sure you wear an apron and have paper towels on hand, trust me.
Tips~ A 1-inch-tall cut-out works best for this recipe as the brownies will be thick.
1. In a glass bowl, whisk together the espresso powder, vanilla, cocoa powder, food coloring and 2 tablespoons of hot water until you have a smooth paste. If it’s too thick, add 1 more tablespoon of hot water. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of an 8×8 pan. Grease the pan on top of paper and sides of pan using spray or shortening.
3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the espresso/cocoa mixture. Gradually mix in the flour until smooth. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan. Bake on middle rack for 30 to 35 minutes or until knife comes out clean from the center of brownies. It’s never a bad idea to rotate the pan halfway through baking. If baking a large pan (double batch), it took 45 minutes to bake in my oven.
4. When done, remove brownies from oven and let cool for 1 hour. Using a small knife, loosen the edges of brownies. Place a baking sheet lined with parchment paper on top of pan and carefully flip over to release brownies. Let cool for 30 minutes. Carefully cut out the hearts from each corner first, then the fifth one in the center of brownies. If using melting chocolate, follow instructions on package. Place in bowl of melted chocolate and use two forks to flip over and coat evenly. Place on parchment paper and decorate with toppings while chocolate is wet. The chocolate sets fairly fast. Once set, using a small sharp knife, trim away the chocolate on bottom of the hearts. If using frosting, I would suggest frosting the sides first and then using a pastry piping bag with a star tip to frost the tops of hearts. Store in an airtight container for 4 days.
Tips~ Use the leftover brownie pieces for a trifle parfait or roll into balls and dip in chocolate.