Black Russian Brownies

Black Russian Brownies

Alcohol and chocolate: two great tastes that go great together! That’s probably trademarked, or registered, or copyrighted, but it certainly describes these intensely flavored brownies. Additionally, this recipe includes freshly ground black pepper, not something you see everyday in a brownie mix. These brownies do have a grownup taste that might not appeal to younger chocoholics.

As expected, the alcohol in these brownies is vodka and coffee liqueur. Grey Goose, Belvedere, Esmé or Van Gogh would all be perfect in these brownies. Steer clear of flavored vodkas and potato vodkas and inexpensive, medicinal tasting swill. With dozens of decent coffee liqueurs on the market, Kahlúa being one of the most easily recognized, you have quite a few to choose from. Patrón’s coffee liqueur is made with silver tequila which might not be suitable in this recipe.

These brownies are made with unsweetened baking chocolate instead of cocoa powder. And a high quality chocolate like Ghirardelli’s 100% cacao baking bar provides consistent and  excellent results. Chocolate is fairly delicate, and needs to be handled with care. This chocolate will need to be melted in the top of a double boiler, being careful not to get any water in the it. Even though it looks like a liquid, melted chocolate acts like a dry ingredient, and will seize if water is dripped into it.

All brownies, with their dense cakey texture, have the propensity to stick to the bottom of the pan, no matter how well it was treated. We can avoid this potential disaster by first spraying a 9 x 13-inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray, and then lining the pan bottom and sides with parchment paper cut to fit. This too receives a quick spray. Once the brownies have cooled sufficiently, they can be lifted directly out of the pan and set on a cutting board.

More people than not like the inside brownie pieces the best. We can make the entire pan inside pieces by slicing off the exterior crust from each side. A pizza wheel handles this job in a snap. And why settle for square brownies. Diamond shapes are simple to cut. Just cut the brownies in rows across the narrow length, and then slice at a 45° angle for the second cut. Dust these brownies with just a touch of powdered sugar to set off their deep color. You can enjoy these brownies with a hot cup of Italian roast, or alternate between sips of this dessert’s namesake: an icy Black Russian.

Black Russian Brownies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 ozs. Ghirardelli 100% cacao baking bar
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons vodka such as Grey Goose or Esmé
  • ⅓ cup coffee liqueur such as Kahlúa
  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Melt the butter, pepper and chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Set aside and allow this to come to room temperature. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch cake pan by spraying it with cooking spray and lining it with parchment paper, then lightly spraying the parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and whisk until it’s combined. Mix the salt and baking powder into the flour. Add the flour all at once and mix until the batter is just combined. Add the nuts, if you choose, and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the surface. Bake on the middle rack with the convection oven on for 25 minutes. Do not overbake the brownies.

Allow the brownies to cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before lifting them out with the parchment paper to a cutting board.

Fold down the parchment paper and slice the brownies into the desired shapes.

Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy.