Guest Feature: Dark Chocolate Belgian Brownie Bites
Joie de vivre, the term that means joy of living, is a commonly used expression that represents the French approach to daily life. It means finding the happiness in the present circumstances; slowing down to savor a meal or disconnecting from technology after work. Joie de vivre gives us permission to enjoy the process, a glass of wine with dinner and a bite of chocolat for dessert. “[French] culture delights in elegance, sensuality, quality and form: the exquisite hand-stitching on the haute-couture dress; the immaculately glazed tartes aux framboises lined up in the pâtisserie window. The aesthetics of daily life, the art de vivre, remains a source of both grand gestures and small stolen pleasures.” The Economist.
Today, those small stolen pleasures appeared in the form of rich dark chocolate brownie bites.
Several months ago, as I was finishing up a meal at Le Pain Quotidien, the server delivered the check with a recipe card attached, for “Belgian Brownies.” The recipe called for chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar, and a dash of flour. With ingredients like that, I set the card aside for a special occasion. Months went by, and the recipe card stayed on the fridge, exactly where I had originally placed it. Life was busy, and the last thing on my to-do list, was bake a batch of gourmet brownies from scratch.
Then today, after dropping off my daughter at school, bound for work and feeling bad about it, “Fight For Your Right,” by the Beastie Boys came on the radio. Stay with me here. As I flashed back to 1986, I began thinking about the joie de vivre concept. There was nothing particularly special about today, and tomorrow would consist of the same mad dash to school and work, with as few tears as possible. I knew in that moment, per the wise words of The Beastie Boys that I had to fight for my right to joie. And baking something delicious and chocolaty with my little girl after dinner would be just the fun, messy thing. It would turn this ordinary day into the special time we baked decadent brownies together for dessert.
In the spirit of partying in moderation, and with elegance à la française, I modified the original recipe to make “bites,” instead of full-sized brownies.
It’s a regular day in February today, a perfect opportunity to read the Economist, listen to 1980’s hiphop, and eat brownies with your little one sans guilt. Fight for your opportunity, in your busy schedule, to slow down and steal a few moments of joy… and chocolate. Bon appétit!
Adapted from Le Pain Quotidien Belgian Brownie recipe
- 4 Ounces - 65-70% Baking Chocolate Bars
- 1/2 Cup - Sugar
- 1/2 Cup - Butter
- 2 - Eggs (lightly beaten)
- 1 Heaping Tablespoon - Flour
- Line a mini cupcake tray with mini paper lines, set aside
- Roughly chop chocolate into pieces and transfer to a bowl and add butter
- Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until the two ingredients have melted. Mix well and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside
- Sift sugar and flour, then stir into the chocolate. Add the eggs and mix well
- Cover and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. The batter will thicken
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- Spoon a tablespoon of batter into each paper lined cup
- Bake about 20 minutes. The brownies will still be moist when done. They will puff up and fall slightly as they cool. For a gooey-er brownie, bake a minute or two less. For a crispier, airy bite, bake a minute or two more.
Leigh is a Middle School Teacher of French and a Mom to a busy four year old. She loves to entertain family and friends, and prepare daily dishes for her husband and daughter. Leigh’s meals are often influenced by her mom’s love of cooking. Leigh also creates recipes based on her experiences of living and working in the south of France. She often uses food to provide authentic experiences for her students as well. On Fridays, it’s not uncommon to see her students making crèpes and sampling French “fromage,” as part of their lesson. Always inspired by fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, Leigh’s dishes are simple, tasty, and always made with her family in mind. Her daughter, now three, is an enthusiastic helper in the kitchen. A lover of mealtime with family and warm summer nights, Leigh is excited to share some of her favorite recipes. Follow Leigh on her Instagram account @arecipeforeveryseason