[dropcap]C[/dropcap]hocolate is the perennial crowd-pleaser, comforter, and provides the necessary satisfaction for episodic naughty indulgences. In its darker form it is professed to be full of health benefits (taken in moderation of course) from flavanoids which act as antioxidants, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
In that very sense, chocolate has many parallels with red wine. Red wine contains antioxidants such as Resveratrol, found in the red grape skin – though unfortunately and admittedly in insignificant amounts to have any evident effect on health. However, medical authorities for years have preached the worth of enjoying red wine (again, unfortunately in moderation – but don’t despair entirely), for chocolate and red wine pair irresistibly well; so much so that I had to share with you all a favourite recipe of mine, harnessing some of chocolate’s best qualities, along with some transcendental wine matches.
I’m sure these dark chocolate health benefits are sustained in this enticingly scrumptious baked brownie. Disclaimer: this is a belief strictly of my own and should not be taken as factuality… but when it comes to chocolate, believing is a self-fulfilling prophecy!
I therefore prescribe you the following….
Lady Parker’s Chocolate Brownies
200g butter – chopped
250g (a block) Whittaker’s 72% Dark Ghana Chocolate (or other good-quality dark chocolate) – roughly chopped
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup raw sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
1.5 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Grease a brownie tin / baking tin (no need to line it).
Over a double boiler (or a heat-proof bowl over a simmering pot of water), slowly melt the butter with 200g of your chopped dark chocolate (don’t stir any of the ingredients at this stage, until they are melting – this takes about 10 minutes).
Add sugars to the chocolate mix, and whisk until combined and relatively smooth – you can still see the granules of sugar. This particular combination of sugars means there are lovely chocolatey caramelized strains running through your brownie.
Beat in eggs one at a time thoroughly. Add your vanilla essence. At this point you can also add in any other flavourings (i.e. coffee, orange rind). Add your sifted flour and cocoa to the mix, fold in until well combined. Add the rest of your chocolate, which is roughly chopped, into the mix.
Pour mixture into your prepared tin, and bake in oven for 40 – 45 minutes, or until set. You’ll want the middle to be quite gooey, it firms up when it cools. Cool in tin, cut into squares, dust with icing sugar, and serve with coffee in the morning, or warm with vanilla bean icecream and berry compote for dessert with one of the following wines!
The pairing of wine and chocolate has its cynics, but I believe it can be done. With this lovely sweet treat, I would suggest matching a Syrah, Pinot Noir or fortified red. Both of the first two wine varieties can have lovely mocha / chocolate notes, and fine tannins that will not overpower the chocolate brownie, or react with it adversely.
Desert Heart Pinot Noir 2007 (Central Otago) $45.00
A beautiful, complex nose with a richness about the palate. The mouthfeel and texture are second to none and seemlessly harmonise with the chocolate. We get forest-floor, complex red and dark fruits and a nice subtle spiciness / smokiness.
Elephant Hill Reserve Syrah 2008 (Hawkes Bay) $45.00
Notes of blackberry, cassis, floral and soft dark chocolate upfront with lovely spice and anise. The palate is a vivid, long-lingering and silky one, enveloping you like a velvet curtain.
Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008 (Hawkes Bay) $28.00
Savoury, black pepper and chocolate undertones with wonderful fruit cake, blackberry and bramble fruits on the nose. A delightfully well put-together Syrah with the addition of Viognier for lovely texture and weight. A thoroughly enjoyable pairing with this chocolate brownie.
A favourite port of mine (rather special), that I think would go superbly with Chocolate Brownies:
Graham’s LBV Port (2003) $160.00
Wonderful sweet spice, blueberry/cassis, chocolate, liquorice, florals and a nice bit of spirit – rich and voluptuous. Utterly divine indulgence!
And lastly, for something a little different. A suggestion accredited to Rob Harrison, a spin on the Kir Royale, with your usual Champagne substituted for sparkling shiraz –
Sparkling Shiraz Cocktail
Fill base of flute with berry compote juice, or Kir liqueur
Top with a sparkling shiraz (suggestion: E&E Black Pepper Sparkling Shiraz 2004)
Ultimately there is a whole lot of experimenting that you can embark on with different wines and different chocolate creations – they are both so diverse, but when you crack that code of perfect partners – it is truly a match made in heaven!!