I made this within seconds after seeing the recipe and photo in The New York Times, December 19, 2007—in fact, I was so sure it was going to fit my chocolate bill for richness and deliciousness that I marched right out (no testing here!), bought a trifle bowl and signed up to make it for a Jewish Christmas eve party at my friend Daryn’s house. I hate to say I was right…but I was, absolutely! I’ve made this numerous times since, and for some reason children are always involved so I only put enough Cognac in the brownies to perk up the chocolate, not to add any flavor.
(serves about 10, fewer if there are chocoholics…or pigs)
For the brownies:
1 cup plus 2 T unsalted butter, more for greasing pan
3 oz. finely chopped unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 T Cognac, rum or bourbon, optional
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 T unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 T cornstarch
1 3/4 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 T unsalted butter
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar for whipped cream
1 to 2 pints raspberries
To make brownies, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
In a large saucepan, melt butter. Remove pan from heat and stir in chopped chocolate until fully melted. Stir in cocoa and sugar until combined. Slowly add eggs whisking chocolate mixture constantly then whisk in vanilla. Fold in flour and salt.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until just firm, about 25 minutes. Cool, and if using spirits, prick holes in hot brownies and drizzle evenly over pan (as I said above, I don’t do this…and just add a bit to the batter before baking).
In a large bowl, mix together granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in 3/4 cup milk. In a large saucepan, bring remaining 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream to a boil over medium heat. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into cocoa mixture. Return to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking gently, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. (A simmering bubble or two is okay, but do not let it boil.)
In a medium heat-resistant bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking them constantly, very slowly dribble about half the cocoa-milk mixture into yolks until fully combined. Pour yolk mixture into saucepan with remaining cocoa-milk mixture, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking occasionally, over medium-low heat, until thickened, about 5 minutes. (Do not let mixture come to a simmer. If pan begins to steam thickly, remove from heat for a few moments and stir well before continuing.) Let cool slightly.
Melt 5 ounces chopped chocolate with butter. Stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Cool 5 minutes, then fold into thickened egg mixture. Place plastic wrap directly against pudding (to prevent a skin from forming), and chill until set, about 3 hours. (Pudding and brownies can be made up to 5 days ahead, and refrigerated.)
Just before assembling, in an electric mixer, beat remaining 2 1/2 cups cream with remaining 5 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar until it forms soft peaks. Scrape down sides and fold in any excess cocoa or sugar.
Cut brownies into 1-inch squares. Fit a layer of brownie squares in bottom of a 4-quart trifle, glass or other bowl. Top with half the pudding, a third of the whipped cream, a third of the remaining chopped chocolate and a third of the raspberries. Repeat layering until all ingredients have been used. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to 24 hours before serving.