May 16, 2018

Fran's truffle brownies (with Vietnamese coffee ice cream)

Could I possibly interest you in another brownie recipe?  In all likelihood, you already have a favorite one of your own but when it comes to things like brownies (things that we like to eat with regularity), I think there's always room to experiment and try one more variation.
That's what I figured when I spotted this recipe for truffle brownies from Fran's Chocolates.  I think I must've first heard about Fran's from Ina Garten, who would rave about the company's caramels on her show.  I've since sampled some of their chocolates but haven't been to Seattle where their boutiques are located to really explore their offering.  The chocolates that I have tasted were delicious so if I ever find myself in Seattle, you can bet that will be a key stop. 

So I trust that Fran knows her chocolate and I wanted to make these truffle brownies I saw online.  I thought they'd make a nice dessert on their own, or paired with ice cream.  
I churned up a batch of Vietnamese coffee ice cream to go with the truffle brownies.  I was inspired by a spurt of warm, sunny weather we were having a couple of weeks ago and while that might have distracted me to the point of baking these brownies a few minutes longer than I wish I had, they were still satisfying.  The truffle brownies are moist and have a texture that's somewhere between cake, brownie, truffle, and chocolate mousse.  How can you not want to try that!
Cut into small squares, I individually wrapped and kept my stash of truffle brownies in the fridge.  I shared some with a friend and the rest, we enjoyed on their own as well as a nice bonus accompaniment with a bowl of ice cream!  There are few things better than brownies and ice cream.  

This brownie batter is made with bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate, plus both brown and granulated sugar.  Like cake batter, there's a good deal of mixing involved where the batter ultimately comes together smooth and thick.
Once baked, you'll notice the brownies have a flat cake-like appearance.  The top will be dull and dry, not crackly or shiny as with many other typical brownie recipes.  You might also note I was busy baking not only brownies but the latest batch of chocolate chip cookies that day!  We've been on a pretty serious chocolate chip cookie kick lately!
Keep an eye on the brownies as you bake.  I divided the recipe in half and it seemed to go from not-ready to more than ready in the blink of an eye near the end of baking.  It's best to take the pan out and give it a test with a cake tester and make sure you have some crumbs attached.  
Once fully cooled, slice the truffle brownies into small squares or in whatever shape and size you want.  They are interestingly rich yet light, smooth and creamy.  
As for the ice cream pairing.  The good weather inspired me to dust off my ice cream maker and start churning.  David Lebovitz's Vietnamese Coffee ice cream is a favorite with my fellas.  Made with a few ingredients - strong coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and half-and-half - you just whisk it all together, chill, and churn it out!
Time flies - these treats came and went so quickly.  But no complaints here!  It's good to keep busy and to be able to enjoy these little sweet treats...and the more chocolate, brownies, and ice cream we can reasonably squeeze into our lives, the better!


Fran's Truffle Brownies
Adapted from Fran's Chocolates

- One 8"inch square pan, or 24 small brownie squares - 

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used light)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Position an oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and line it with parchment, leaving about a 2-inch overhang on two sides.  Lightly grease the paper.

Place chocolates with the espresso powder (if using) into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of just simmering water.  Stir until chocolate is just melted.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars together on medium-speed until light, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate each.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.  Add vanilla and continue beating until mixture is smooth and light, about 2 minutes.  Pour in the cooled chocolate and mix together.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour and salt until just combined.  When done, you should have a thick, smooth batter. 

Pour batter into the prepared pan, smoothing over the top.  Bake until the surface of the brownie is dull and a cake tester comes out with some wet crumbs attached, about 22-25 minutes (check early to avoid over baking).   

Let brownie cool in the pan for about an hour before lifting them out of the pan and slicing into squares.  Store brownies in an airtight container at room temperature (or in the refrigerator) for up to a week.

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream
From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

- Makes about 1 quart - 

1 1/2 cups (600g) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) brewed espresso (or very strongly brewed coffee; I use strong coffee brewed with double the usual amount of coffee grounds)
1/2 cup (125 ml) half-and-half
Big pinch of finely ground dark roast coffee (you can press coffee grounds through a fine sieve)

Whisk together the condensed milk, espresso (or strong coffee), half-and-half, and ground coffee.  Chill mixture thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  

Transfer the ice cream to a storage container.  Chill (I prefer overnight) to allow ice cream to set up before serving (alone or with truffle brownies above).


  1. Monica can you please live next door! My word you are the dessert and baking expert! I think that actually might be quite dangerous to our waistlines. LOL

    1. If we were neighbors, we'd balance each other out. Your healthy meals and my decadent desserts...? ; P

  2. wow Those truffle brownies look utterly delicious and tempting served with that coffee ice cream.

    1. Thanks - maybe a bit too tempting but makes life sweet. ; )

  3. Oooo these look so rich and decadent! Almost fudge-like from the photos!! And who am I to turn down chocolate ... especially when combined with coffee ice cream! <-- my favorite!

    1. I like everything with chocolate so it works for me, too. Just hoping for some hot sunny weather again so we can enjoy ice cream properly. ; )

  4. Could a girl ever have too many brownie recipes...I think not. :D

  5. You can always interest me in a new brownie recipe and especially in that coffee ice cream. They both look amazing!

    1. I can never get enough of brownies and ice cream...wish I could have it everyday for dessert. : P

  6. I like their different caramels a bunch. I am fortunate to live near them and have lots of local chocolates. �� These brownies look interesting!

    1. Sounds great. I'd have a field day in their shop! : )

  7. Best brownies ever. Kept them covered, in pan, overnight and then cut them up the next day. Came out of the pan easily and cut beautifully.

    DJ McKinney

  8. I can't have enough of brownies recipes! They look absolutely delicious!

    1. Same here! Brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and all that good stuff.

  9. As if the brownies weren't enough, you've included coffee ice cream too! Seriously, can it get any better than this? They both look amazing and droolworthy!

    1. Treats make life so much sweeter, as you well know, Sonali. : ) Hope all is well.

  10. Oooh, truffle brownies sound amazing! And with the coffee ice cream, absolutely delicious!



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