In October of 2012, I had the fortune of accompanying the culinary talent over at Insatiably Epicurious to an open call for Master Chef. For those unfamiliar with the show, home cooks compete through a series of elimination rounds in hopes of the ultimate goal of becoming Master Chef. They are mentored and judged by three power houses in the culinary world: the legendary Chef Gordon Ramsay, winemaker and restauranteur of some of the most celebrated Italian restaurants in the country Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot, the mastermind behind the first "bistronomic" restaurant in Chicago.
Needless to say, I was inordinately excited to accompany my friend for moral support. Ok, so I was also hoping for a glimpse of Gordon, Joe, and Graham but that was a secondary priority. Anyway, I was fascinated by the hundreds of home cooks, their culinary creations, their presentations, and their personalities. Some came prepared with practically a mini kitchen for the casting call!
My friend from Insatiably Epicurious, however, is the epitome of "more than meets the eye." As soft spoken as she is, as unassuming as her persona and the way she disclosed she merely baked a brownie for this casting call to other contestants, Top Chef alum Jamie Lauren raved (after emphasizing that brownies are her thing) "THAT is a damn good brownie" after but one bite of my friend's Dark Fudge Apricot Brownie with Coconut Vanilla Whipped Cream & Toasted Hazelnuts. Thereafter, the remainder of the entire judging panel literally surrounded her station to get a bite of the brownie. Jamie Lauren even came back for seconds.
So without further ado, I present:
Dark Fudge Apricot Brownie with Coconut Vanilla Whipped Cream & Toasted Hazelnuts
by Insatiably Epicurious
double boiler or large metal bowl over pot of boiling water
8x8x2 baking pan
Whip Cream Dispenser
Biscuit cutter (optional)
18 oz Smuckers Apricot Preserves
1 tbsp orange gelatin powder
¼ cup water
In a small sauce pan, bring water slowly to boil, add gelatin, and mix thoroughly.
Pour contents of preserves into dissolved gelatin and mix.
Bring to a boil for 2 minutes and remove from stove. Strain liquid and preserves. Set aside separately.
Coconut Vanilla Whipped Cream Ingredients
14oz coconut cream
1 vanilla bean
1 ½ cup heavy cream
Whipped Cream Directions
1. Slice open vanilla bean. Use a knife to scrap the inside of vanilla bean.
2. Place vanilla scrapings, heavy cream, and coconut cream into medium bowl. Whisk gently to
3. Add contents into dispenser. Chill for at least 1hr.
4. Shake thoroughly right before use.
2 sticks unsalted sweet butter
9 oz Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate
1 cup cake flour
1 cup & 6 tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped hazelnuts- toasted
¼ tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut 2 lengths of parchment paper to line bottom and sides of baking dish, across and down. Fold
down parchment paper along the sides of the baking dish and set aside.
3. Set a pot of water to boil. Reduce to medium heat. Place a large metal bowl over boiling water. Place
chocolate and butter into bowl. As contents begin to melt, use a small whisk to mix contents
4. Set bowl of chocolate mixture onto a flat surface. Put a lightly damp folded towel under the bowl to
keep it steady. Set aside to cool until lukewarm.
5. In a separate bowl, use mixer to beat sugar and eggs until well blended.
6. Blend in chocolate mixture into eggs.
7. Sift cake flour, baking powder, and salt into mixture. Fold to blend.
8. Pour 2/3 of brownie mixture into pan. Tap bottom of pan against hard surface to even out.
9. Evenly distribute apricot preserves over surface of brownie mixture.
10. Pour in remaining brownie mixture to evenly top surface. Tap again.
11. Bake for 45-50min. Remove from oven and cool for at least 30min.
12. To serve, use a biscuit cutter to cut a perfect circle into brownie. Lift carefully and place onto
serving plate. Add whipped cream to surround brownie. Top generously with toasted hazelnuts. Using
a spoon, drizzle apricot glaze onto brownie and a bit over whipped cream.
13. Serve immediately.
Head on over to her blog for more delicious recipes!
Bon appétit mes amis!