Chocolate bouchons are amazing cork shaped brownies found at Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery in Napa and NYC. The recipe is also used to make the warm chocolate brownie served at Ad Hoc, which is our favorite dessert at any restaurant in the
Bay Area country. Every time we go to Napa, we have to get a fix of bouchons from the bakery or the brownie at Ad Hoc. They are extremely addicting!
Our friend, Brennan, is a total bouchon junkie. When we bring back bouchons from Napa, we have to give the brownies to Deb, Brennan's wife. Otherwise, Brennan will eat them all and neglect to tell Deb about their existence. We accidentally outed him once... oops! We thought he'd share at least one.
A few weeks ago, I made bouchons for the first time and I turned it into a battle between Valrhona and Scharffen Berger chocolate. The recipe calls for Valrhona chocolate, but I also wanted to try bouchons using Scharffen Berger. It's our favorite local chocolate maker and we've been baking almost exclusively with Scharffen Berger for the last 5 or 6 years.
Let the battle begin. The recipe uses Valrhona Equatoriale (55%) semisweet chocolate, which I couldn't find at the local supermarket. Instead, I used Le Noir Gastronomie (61% cacao), which was a good competitor to 62% semisweet Scharffen Berger chocolate. The bouchons are baked in 2 to 3 ounce flexible silicon timbale molds or baba cups. I haven't ordered the timbale molds yet, so I used silicon muffin molds. The muffin molds produce a small circular brownie similar to the brownie at Ad Hoc.
The difference in the batter was immediate. The Valrhona cocoa powder is Dutch processed and produces a darker batter compared to the naturally processed Scharffen Berger cocoa powder. In the slideshow, you should be able to notice the blacker Valrhona and the browner Scharffen Berger brownies.
Time to taste. Individually, the two brownies were each excellent. They both had a nice texture — a chewy, slightly crunchy exterior and a soft, moist interior. The Valrhona bouchon had a more intense, pure chocolate taste. Whereas, the Scharffen Berger brownie had a sweeter, fruity flavor. Hungry Bear, Deb and I preferred the Valrhona ones and surprisingly the bouchon addict, Brennan, liked the Scharffen Berger brownies more. When they were served at Thanksgiving, it was probably a 60/40 split in favor of Valrhona. In general, the people who chose Scharffen Berger tended to prefer milk chocolate over dark chocolate.
We were able to compare our brownie variations to bouchons from Bouchon Bakery... thanks Jane! Compared to the original, our brownies were very similar in taste and texture. It was hard to tell the difference, but our brownies were slightly less sweet than the real bouchons. Dare I say, we actually enjoyed our brownies more than the original!
It was quite a battle. One that needs to be repeated with different chocolates. Valrhona is the reigning champion, but who is going to step up to the challenge? Callebaut, Guittard, Ghirardelli, Lindt, I think you are being called out!
Chocolate Bouchons Recipe
Bouchon Bakery uses 2-ounce fleximolds and serves smaller bouchons. 3-ounce (2-inch to 2-1/2-inch diameter) timbale molds or silicon muffin molds can be used for larger cakes.
Recipe Makes 12 servings of the smaller bouchons or 16 brownies using muffin molds.
Butter and flour for the timbale molds
3-1/2 ounces (3/4 cup) all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1-1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
24 tablespoons (12 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Equatoriale (55%) chopped into pieces the size of chocolate chips
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 12 timbale molds. Set aside.
2) Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in another large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until very pale in color. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 1/3 of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to a day.)
3) Put the timbale molds on a baking sheet. Place the batter in a pastry bag without a tip, or with a large plain tip, and fill each mold about 2/3 full. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (30 to 32 minutes for the muffin pans). When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a wooden skewer or toothpick. It should come out clean but not dry (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate). Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the timbale molds and let the bouchons cool upside down in the molds; then lift off the molds. (The bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked.)
4) To serve: Invert the bouchons and dust them with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with ice cream if desired.
[Recipe via Bouchon by Thomas Keller]
Note on the Pictures: I forgot to invert the bouchons before I sprinkled on the confectioners' sugar, so the browned top is facing down... damn! I might have to make some more to retake the photos. Who wants some brownies?
[tags]chocolate, bouchon, ad hoc, bakery, valrhona, scharffen berger, brownie, battle, semisweet[/tags]