Many moons ago I worked at a buzzing Ponsonby Road restaurant called One Red Dog. I had moved to the bright lights of Auckland to attend Uni from the middle of nowhere (I spent my teenage years living 10kms up a winding valley road smack bang between Blenheim & Nelson) and needed a job to pay my board.
After a few months working at a sandwich bar in the food court of St Lukes mall and hating every moment of it, mainly because of the awful yellow uniform and hideously unflattering cap, I went in search of a cooler and more socially stimulating position.
Back in the day, I was a bright-eyed lass, but super innocent and extremely naive for an eighteen year old. Working at One Red Dog, where the likes of Michael Galvin came to dine and throw back QF’s with his showbiz buddies, I found my new surroundings both impressive and a little daunting. One thing that made my working nights slightly less intimidating was a really cute older boy who worked in the bar of the restaurant. I had a pretty big crush on him, but would never have admitted it, and looking back I am quite sure he had a crush on me too. This lanky blonde dude with scruffy surfer hair was a great reason to book extra hours and I used to anticipate each shift with giddy excitement. We took our breaks together, sitting on the side-walk down Anglesea Street eating fettucine and awkwardly gaff-awing about Michael Galvin and his obnoxious mates. If the chef was in a good mood he would let us have dessert and this was always my pick.
For years after I finished working at the restaurant, if ever I was out and needed a late night sweet treat, or wanted a hot chocolate & dessert catch up with a friend, it was back to One Red Dog that I would return, only ever ordering this one menu item which never failed to impress.
That blonde boy and I never saw each other again, I moved on to greener pastures and he travelled overseas to pursue a professional cricket career and to be honest I haven’t really thought about him again much over the years. That dessert though? Oh, I think about it often. All the world that I have travelled, and I have never encountered a similar item on a dessert menu anywhere. Which blows my mind. It was THAT good and no one else has done it? Why? Oh why? Oh why?
And you know what – until today I hadn’t ever thought about recreating it myself. Little man asked today what was going to be for pudding tonight. I asked him right back “If you could choose it to be anything in the whole wide world what would you want?” to which he replied (of course) “Brownie”.
Did I ever tell you his brownie story?
Well over a year ago, as we walked home from dropping big sister off at Kindy, I was pushing him in the pram and saw a cat hanging off a fence on a really strange angle.
“Aston” I said, “look at that funny cat over there on the fence.”
“Oh the brown one?” (there was only one cat in our general vicinity)!
“No, it’s kind of orangey” I reply
“And kind of brownie” he says
“I guess so, kind of orangey and kind of brownie”
“Do you got any brownie Mama?”
“You mean brownie like cake?”
“Yes, my love brownie!” (he used to say my whenever he actually meant to say me)
As soon as he said Brownie today, I had a flashback to this delicious, delicious dessert and I suggested we try to recreate it. As long as it was chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, he welcomed my suggestion.
At the restaurant it was served with raspberry coulis which cut through the richness of the mousse and fudgey-brownie base. I think there was a third layer somewhere in there to be honest, but I can’t think of what it was so we have settled for two. I’d hardly call it settling though. This dessert is still the business! Small squares of this are ample and the drizzle of coulis just completes this taste sensation! I made Boysenberry Coulis instead because I wanted to try something a bit different and because boysenberries were a lot cheaper than the raspberries. It’s still a perfect marriage.
And you know what is funny? Almost exactly 10 years later, I was working behind the bar in the building right next door to One Red Dog and it was here that I met my husband. Ponsonby Road has been good to me. This brownie + my man = a marriage made in heaven!
- 115 grams unsalted butter
- 3/4 C cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/2 C brown sugar
- 1/2 C caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/2 t instant coffee powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 C standard flour
- 1 T gelatin (I use the granules)
- 115 g Whittakers dark chocolate (I used 72% Ghana), very finely chopped
- 1 C cream, divided
- 1 t instant coffee powder
- 1 T caster sugar
- Boysenberry Coulis
- Whipped cream
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with baking paper.
- Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat or in the microwave.
- Add to sifted cocoa powder and both sugars and mix until well combined (I use my stand mixer, but you can use a hand-held beater or a wooden spoon).
- Add the eggs, vanilla, salt, and coffee powder and whisk until smooth.
- Fold in the flour until just combined and no streaks of flour are visible, but be careful not to overmix.
- Spread into prepared pan and bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool it completely. Keep it in the tin for the next stage.
- In a small bowl or ramekin, sprinkle the gelatin over 3 T of cold water and leave it to sit for 5 minutes to soften.
- Place the finely chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
- In a small pot, warm 1/3 cup of the cream until steaming. Whisk in the softened gelatin and coffee powder until dissolved.
- Pour the warmed cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 20 to 30 seconds, then gently whisk until smooth. Do not leave it too long as it needs to be warm enough to melt the chocolate to mix smoothly.
- Place the remaining 2/3 cup of cream and caster sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
- Using a large rubber spatula, fold in half of the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture to lighten.
- Once combined, add the remaining cream and gently fold, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, until mousse is all the same colour and well combined.
- Pour the mousse mixture on top of your cooled brownie and smooth the top.
- Cover with gladwrap and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or ideally overnight.
- To cut, remove the entire cake from the tin, running a knife along the edges to loosen and lifting by the baking paper to ensure easy removal.
- Cut into even squares using a very sharp knife, dipped in hot water and wiped clean between each cut. This will ensure a clean line each time.
- Serve with coulis of your choice and a bowl of softly whipped, unsweetened cream.
- This dessert is best kept in the fridge until serving. If it sits out too long the mousse loses form. Will keep up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
- 1 C frozen boysenberries
- 2 T caster sugar
- 1/4 C water
- 2 t cornflour mixed to a smooth paste with 2 t cold water
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- In a small pan over medium heat, bring to the boil the berries, water and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Once the mixture is boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, add cornflour paste and the juice of half a lemon and stir until well combined and mixture has thickened slightly.
- Mix thoroughly, returning to the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring to ensure it doesn't catch on the bottom.
- Allow to cool before serving. If you prefer the texture with no seeds, you can strain through a fine mesh strainer.
- Increase water if you prefer a more runny coulis.
The day after I recreated this recipe, I received an email alerting me to a competition that The Coffee Club was holding to find the ultimate comfort food recipe. I’m entering this because seriously, can someone tell me what isn’t comforting about chocolate? That small C word provides comfort to millions of people the world over, many times each day. And this is not just chocolate! Here we have silky smooth and full bodied chocolate mousse atop decadent, fudgey, rich dark chocolate brownie. Shut the front door!! This recipe has got to be in with a chance of a win!
* this post is not at all sponsored.