Friday, February 20, 2009

Valentine's Day Dessert

As promised, here is the recipe for the dessert I made to finish our Valentine's Day supper. A couple of years ago we went on a cruise where we were treated to gourmet dining each evening in the dining room. Since six of us went together on the cruise, we each ordered something different each evening, and then passed plates around to share. (Yeah, it was gourmet dining and we were passing plates around. You can take us out of the prairie, but...)
Anyway, this dessert was inspired by one we had on the ship. I didn't order it since the title of it had something to do with espresso. I don't drink coffee, and don't normally enjoy coffee-flavored food. Greg did order this dessert, though, and gobbled down the entire thing himself. He refused to let me have a taste. Leslie let me have a bite of hers. After all, we were there to experience new things, so I took a chance. I fell in love. That's when I looked to Greg to share his portion, and he moved his dish away from me and said, "No." No amount of pouting would change his mind. I came home and started a search for this yummy treat, and here's what I found at the Epcurious website. No espresso, but it's pretty close to what we had.
(I halved the recipe; my notes will be in red.)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Phyllo Purses
Bon Appétit March 2001
Each elegant phyllo "purse" contains a flourless brownie topped with peanut butter and chocolate ganache.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Flourless chocolate brownies:
9 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
Chocolate ganache:
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
4 teaspoons sugar
6 17x13-inch sheets frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Vanilla ice cream
For brownies:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Butter 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.
(I used an 8x8" pan)

Melt chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl until thick and pale. Stir chocolate mixture into yolk mixture.
Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.
Carefully fold egg whites into chocolate mixture.

Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Press down edges until even with middle of brownies. Cool completely. Using 2 1/4-inch-diameter cookie cutter, cut out 12 rounds. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature.) (I just cut them into squares.)

For ganache:
Bring 1/4 cup whipping cream and vanilla extract to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat.
Remove from heat.
Add chopped chocolate and whisk until completely melted.
Refrigerate ganache until firm, about 1 hour. (Ganache can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Lightly butter rimmed baking sheet.
Stir peanut butter and 4 teaspoons sugar in small bowl to blend.
Cut each phyllo sheet in half crosswise to form twelve 13x81/2-inch strips. Place 1 phyllo strip vertically on work surface. Brush with melted butter. Place second phyllo strip horizontally across first, forming cross; brush with butter.
Stack 2 brownies in center of pastry. Top brownies with 1 tablespoon ganache, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter mixture. Gather ends of phyllo strips together over brownies to form purse. Twist ends closed. (I had a little trouble with my phyllo tearing, so I didn't get to make them into a "purse". When I made these last time, it worked great and looks really neat.)
Brush purse with melted butter and place on prepared baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining ingredients to form total of 6 purses. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.) Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve with ice cream.
These freeze nicely. I just thaw them before baking.
I'm sorry I didn't get a photo of the inside of the "purse" after baking. We gobbled them down too quickly. :o) The phyllo is crispy and chewy, the brownies just sort of melt with the ganache and the peanut butter. The first time I made these, I omitted the peanut butter, and I don't think they were any better or any worse. You decide if you want it or not.

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