Monday, May 30, 2011
I learned via Facebook that the store Zzest in Rochester was having a Chopped challenge. If you've never seen the show Chopped on Food Network, the basic premise is a group of chefs are given "mystery baskets" with three surprise ingredients. They have to make a certain course using all three ingredients (and can also use basic "pantry" items.) Their dishes are judged and the loser of each round is "chopped", leaving the remaining contestants to move on to the next round.
Zzest kicked off their Chopped challenge with an entree basket that contained sardines, dried beans, and pepper sherry. That seemed a bit off of my motivational scale, being a weeknight cook and all. But when I heard they were doing dessert baskets, I jumped at the chance. The recipes and pictures were due on Saturday, May 28, and as I write this they have yet to post the competitors' pictures. I'm waiting on edge--I'm sure mine won't win, but I'm fascinated to see what other people did with the mystery ingredients.
So, without further ado, here were the ingredients in my mystery Chopped basket:
Zzang! Wowza bar
Interesting, no? I thought and thought about what to make, and finally decided to go with a modified version of my Fabulous Fudge Brownies, made with ground-up wine crackers instead of flour and part of the Wowza bar instead of chocolate chips. I'd use the rest of the candy bar and mix it with ice cream, and top it all off with a reduced balsamic vinegar sauce.
Fabulous Fudge Brownie recipe, but with wine crackers instead of flour, dark chocolate instead of semiseweet, and chopped-up candy bar instead of chocolate chips. Oh, and I added a little extra cocoa powder.
Brownies went in the oven. So next is the balsamic sauce.
I scraped the other half of the bean and put that in my sugar bowl for my coffee in the morning.
Oh, um, also. It's going to smell really good, and you're going to want to get a better smell, but don't hold your face over the pot and breathe in deeply. Your sinuses will not like it. Believe me. I did it three times. Be smarter than me.
Yeah, that's right. I totally licked my fingers. Nobody else but me and Mr. Kim Chee were going to be eating it. So there.
My ice cream was, uh, sort of re-frozen. Okay, I was totally impatient to try this. So here it is: the results of my Chopped challenge basket!
Raspberry Fudge Brownies with Wowza Ice Cream and Vanilla Vinegar Sauce
For the Raspberry Fudge Brownies:
½ c. butter
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate
½ c. packed brown sugar
½ c. white sugar
scant ½ c. OTC wine crackers
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
½ Zzang Wowza bar (reserve remaining candy bar for ice cream)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. fresh or frozen raspberries (about ¾ of a pint. Reserve remaining raspberries for ice cream)
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a microwave-safe bowl (or double boiler), melt butter and chocolate and stir until smooth. Add brown and white sugar and stir until incorporated. Add eggs and mix well.
In a food processor, pulse wine crackers until very finely ground. Measure and add 6 tbsp. of ground crackers to brownie mix.
Add cocoa powder to brownie mix and stir until just combined.
Chop Zzang Wowza bar into rough chunks and gently fold into the brownie mixture. Add vanilla extract and stir until just combined.
Grease an 8x8 cake pan. Pour in brownie mix. Top brownie mix with raspberries.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted into center of brownies comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.
For the Wowza Ice Cream
½ pint high-quality vanilla ice cream
¼ pint fresh or frozen raspberries
½ Zzang Wowza bar
Let ice cream sit at room temperature until softened. Lightly mash raspberries. Roughly chop the Wowza bar. Fold both raspberries and candy bar into ice cream.
Re-freeze ice cream until it reaches the desired firmness.
For the Vanilla Vinegar sauce:
1 c. hibiscus flower vinegar
½ vanilla bean
1 tsp. honey
Pour vinegar into small, nonreactive pot. Halve vanilla bean and scrape out caviar. Add vanilla bean, vanilla caviar, and honey to the vinegar.
Let vinegar mixture reduce over low heat until reduced by half. Let cool completely. Drizzle cooled sauce over brownies and ice cream.