And the winner is…

Sometime in early December, as I was perusing the Daring Bakers website, I noticed an ad on the site for a Pink Champagne Truffleschocolate competition hosted by Hotel Chocolat, a UK-based purveyor of fine chocolates. The deal was simple: Submit your favorite chocolate-based recipe and their panel would pick a winner.

My all-time favorite and most acclaimed recipe is for Santa Fe Brownies, an unctuous concoction of 12 ounces of chocolate (bittersweet and semi-sweet) and cream cheese. I can’t quite recall how I got hold of this recipe. I believe my mom gave it to me, but she can’t remember where she got it from. It took me all of 2 minutes to copy my recipe onto the site’s registration and to submit it. Needless to say, I was dumbfounded when I received an email, from the marketing company behind the contest, telling me I had won! :0

Shortly after Christmas, I received my prizes: a box of Pink Champagne Truffles and a copy of the 101 Best Loved  Chocolate Recipes Book. The truffles are to die for, and the book is chock-full of scrumptious recipes (chocolate pasta anyone?…). Thank you Hotel Chocolat! It was a very nice after-Christmas present.

I baked Santa Fe Brownies while at my mother’s over the holidays. Our guests at Christmas all got to take a slab home. That recipe is definitely a winner in everyone’s book. Here’s the recipe. It’s a little-time consuming, but well worth the effort.

Santa Fe BrowniesSanta Fe Brownies
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon butter
6 squares (6 ounces) unsweetened chocolate coarsely chopped
6 squares (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 _ cups all-purpose flour
1 _ teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
1 _ cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 _ cups walnuts, broken into large pieces

Cream Cheese Mixture
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, softened (no substitutions)
1 _ teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs

Instructions :
1.Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 13x 9 inch baking pan with foil.   Melt 1 teaspoon of the
butter and brush the bottom and sides of the pan with it.  Melt the unsweetened
chocolate, semisweet chocolate, and the remaining 1 cup of butter in top of a double
boiler over simmering water.  Set mixture aside and cool slightly.

2.  Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Beat the eggs in a
large mixing bowl at medium speed until just blended.  Add the brown sugar, granulated
sugar, and vanilla: beat just until smooth.  Beat in the chocolate mixture, then flour
mixture, at low speed just until combined.  Reserve 2 1/4 cups batter.  Stir the walnuts
into remaining batter in the mixing bowl.  Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

3.  For Cream Cheese Mixture, beat the cream cheese and butter in a clean mixing bowl
at medium speed until smooth.  Gradually beat in the vanilla and sugar until light and
fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and beat just until
smooth.  Spoon the mixture over the chocolate batter in prepared pan, spreading to
edges to the pan.

4.Stir reserved chocolate batter to soften.  Spoon the batter over the cream cheese
layer.  With a knife, cut through batters in a zigzag pattern to marbleize slightly.  Bake 1
hour 15 minutes , until toothpick inserted in center comes out barely clean.  (If the top
browns too quickly during baking, cover the pan loosely with foil.)  Cool completely in the
pan on a wire rack.  Invert onto a cookie sheet; gently lift off pan and remove foil.  Invert
again, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

5.  With a long, sharp knife, cut brownies into squares, then cut each quarter into 8
squares.  (Can also be cut into slabs and frozen.) Makes 32.


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