When I was a little girl, each year on Valentine’s Day I would rush home from school to find a card from my parents telling me how much they loved me tucked into a heart-shaped box filled with mediocre chocolate (that I happened to love, for the record). My mom took every holiday opportunity to give us gifts (her love language) while I took every opportunity to eat chocolate. Some things never change.
Because of this tradition, chocolate and V-day have always been intimately connected for me. And though I don’t eat most of the chocolate in those heart-shaped boxes anymore, I do make a point of making something chocolatey each year. Cliché, I know. But to add cliché on top of cliché, “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”.
Last year, I made these Healthy Valentine Truffles (and even tried to make a little video), but this year Valentine’s Day is all about the 20% in the 80twenty balance. Brownies are a mainstay in most people’s lives, so I figured it was important to have at least one solid recipe that you could really rely on to make rich, decadent brownies just like your Mom’s (or Grandma’s, or whoever’s). And who better to bring it to you than the folks at the Canadian Living test kitchen? Their new book, The Complete Chocolate Book, boasts over 100 recipes, including how-to photos and tips, all on our topic of the day. What really spoke to my sweet tooth, though, is how they organized the chapters in the book by texture. I’ll explain, but first, imagine this: You’re sharing a glass of wine with your best friend and her cat on a Thursday night. Or it’s your mom’s 65th birthday party, and all of your siblings and their respective families will be coming home to celebrate it. Or you’ve had a rough week filled with long days, tight deadlines, and very little sleep, and the couch plus Season 3 of Damages on Netflix is calling your name. What you reach for, plan for, and what satisfies your craving for comfort and chocolate is different on each of these occasions. Amiright? And that’s where test kitchen bakers really nailed it. They knew that when we had a chocolate craving we were often thinking of something specific, so they brought us chapters like gooey, creamy, crunchy, chewy, melty, crumbly, chilly, and cakey. It’s pure genius. And what it means is that there’s literally an idea in here for everyone on every occasion, and for every craving.
If you like chocolate, this book is a must-have. But be warned: although there are a few gluten-free and vegan options, if you’re looking for chocolate that is specific to your dietary preferences, this probably isn’t a good book for you. (In that case, check out this recipe or this one—from waaaaay back when I was just learning to use my camera; don’t judge). I aim to please everyone. Meanwhile, happy chocolate eating, and happy Valentine’s Day! xo
- 8 oz (225 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 oz (55 g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour *I used an all-purpose gluten-free blend.
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, optional *This was not in the recipe, but I added it in because that’s how brownies and I roll.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line a 13- x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish with parchment paper.
- In saucepan, melt together bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally; let cool for 10 minutes.
- Whisk in sugar and vanilla; whisk in eggs, 1 at a time. With wooden spoon, stir in flour and salt, and gently stir in walnuts, if using, just until incorporated. Spread in greased or parchment paper–lined 13- x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish; smooth top.
- Bake in the oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack. Cut into bars.
- (Make-ahead: Layer between waxed paper in airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.)