pennington’s triple chocolate truffle bars

by now, you should have figured out that i have a thing for pennington’s strawberry rye.  yes, i was given a bottle for free, but, and that is a big but, i am not being paid or compensated in anyway to do this.  the truth is, i am a light weight; i cannot drink large amounts of alcohol and one drink is usually my limit when it comes to mixed drinks.  as a result, i generally prefer to use it in a dessert where i can savor the flavor without getting a hangover.  and if you saw the other two recipes i posted that feature pennington’s strawberry rye, ice box cake and strawberry tea-ramisu (links below), you know how well it blends with other flavors.  so just imagine how well it blends with chocolate…

the recipe is a simple one; a quick to mix brownie base that is baked and cooled and topped with a dark chocolate ganache that is loaded with pennington’s strawberry rye.  the final touch is a swirl of white chocolate and then off to the fridge they go to set the ganache so that they can be cut into bars.  so easy that anyone could make them-and i urge you to do so!

pennington’s truffle brownie bars
makes 1 (8″x8″) pan yielding 32 (1″x2″) bars
brownie base
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped 
1 whole egg plus 1 extra yolk
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder-either dutched or natural
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
preheat the oven to 350.  lightly grease the 8″x8″ pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  
carefully melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate so that they do not scorch-a microwave may be the best options for such small amounts.  
in a mixing bowl, whisk the egg with the sugar and vanilla until combined.  add the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth.  
place the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a sifter or a mesh strainer and sift it over the batter in the bowl.  fold it together gently taking care not to over mix the batter.  
fold in the chocolate chips last and scrape it into the prepared pan.  bake until the top feels slightly firm but not at all stiff or hard, about 20-25 minutes.  allow the brownie to cool completely in the pan.
ganache topping
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream 
2 ounces white chocolate, chopped
place the bittersweet chocolate into a heat proof bowl with the 3/4 cup heavy cream.  set the bowl over a pan of nearly simmering water without allowing the water to come in contact with the bowl.  stir the chocolate occasionally to help it melt.  
while the chocolate melts, prepare the brownies by removing them from the pan by inverting them onto a platter.  line the pan with clean paper so that it comes up the side of the pans by at least an inch; you will need the excess to help you remove the brownies after the ganache sets.  replace the brownies in the pan on top of the clean paper and set the pan aside.
when the chocolate is mostly melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the pennington’s.  whisk it until smooth.  scrape this mixture into the prepared pans and smooth it out so that it is level across the top.  
prepare the white drizzle by placing the white chocolate in a small microwave save bowl with the 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and carefully heat it on the lowest setting for 10-15 second intervals until it begins to melt.  stir the mixture to finish the melting process.  drizzle the mixture over the top of the chocolate ganache in a random pattern and use a toothpick to swirl it.  place the pan in the fridge for several hours or overnight to set it completely.
to remove the brownies from the pan, gently heat the bottom of the pan on the stove top and lift them out using the excess flaps of paper.  carefully peel away the paper away from the sides and bottom of the brownies.  using a sharp knife, cut the brownies into 1″ strips and then cut each strip into 2″ pieces.  to keep the bars looking neat, clean the knife with hot water between cuts and wipe it dry before cutting again.  serve at room temp but store them in the fridge-if they last that long…
like cooking with booze or want some quick and easy no-bake desserts?  check out the other recipes with pennington’s strawberry rye!

pennington’s icebox cake; a no-bake summer dessert

summer is the season for no-bake desserts.  honestly, who wants to turn the oven on when it is 90+ outside?  while i can say that i am guilty of baking during the heat of summer, having discovered icebox cakes, i will probably think twice, especially since they are so easy to make.  the best part about them is that by simply changing cookies or adding a little something to the layers, you have a whole new dessert each time.

for this version, i used biscoff cookies and pennington’s strawberry rye and it was as tasty as it was easy to make.  the hardest part; letting it sit in the fridge long enough for the cookies to soften!

 whip up 2 cups of heavy cream with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla until stiff peaks form.  choose a plate that is completely flat and spread a tiny bit of the whipped cream in the center to act as glue for the cookies.   line up 6 cookies as i did in the photo above and brush them with about a tablespoon of pennington’s strawberry rye.  cover the top of the cookies with some of the whipped cream and repeat the process until the entire package of cookies is gone. there should be five layers of six cookies with a thin layer of cream between them.  for those of you that like a lot of cream, go ahead and whip up 3 cups of cream with a 1/4 cup of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla, the rye amount will remain unchanged; you will need at least 1/3 cup.  if i recall correctly, there will be a couple of cookies left over so just dip them in some additional rye and eat them quickly, i’ll never tell…

 it comes together quickly and easily.  the hardest part is waiting until it is soft enough to slice.  refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours so that the cream and the rye will soften the cookies and make  slicing it possible.

 i liked the way the sides looked with all of the layers showing but you could easily whip up another cup of heavy cream and frost the sides of the cake.  use the tip of the spatula to make a zig-zag pattern on the top.  fresh strawberries would be a pretty addition when served.  slice them in half from the top down to make heart shaped garnishes and give each of the guests a shot of pennington’s to sip with dessert.

 just to prove my theory, i tried the cake with gingersnaps.  publix supermarkets sells a private labeled gingersnap that is the spiciest snap i have ever eaten.  luckily, the whipped cream tempered the heat.  while the flavors blended nicely, i thought the spice of the snaps overwhelmed the fruity flavor of the rye and honestly, as much as i like gingersnaps, i preferred the biscoff version much better.

twenty minutes of work and five minutes of cleanup equals one tasty icebox cake to serve and savor on a hot summer night!

special thanks to my good friend the food sheriff for sharing a bottle of pennington’s strawberry rye with me!  to see the other desserts i made with it, follow these links:

strawberry tea-ramisu; a no bake summer recipe

if you give a pastry chef a bottle of pennington’s strawberry rye, chances are she will whip up a dessert.  and if said pastry chef is feeling a little daring, she might just reinvent the classic tiramisu into something totally southern.  guess what, this happened, it really, really happened!  to read the entire post and see the full recipe, visit my new blog page by following this link

strawberry tea-ramisu; a no-bake summer recipe

if you give a pastry chef a bottle of pennington’s strawberry rye, chances are she will whip up a dessert.  and if said pastry chef is feeling a little daring, she might just reinvent the classic tiramisu into something totally southern.  guess what, this happened, it really, really happened!

with many thanks to my good friend, the food sheriff, i found myself in possession of some penningtons, strawberry rye and the instructions to “make something!”  have i ever told you that i am good at following instructions?  okay, that is stretching it, a lot, but this time, i did exactly that.

 if you have made a true, classic tiramisu, you know it can be a little intimidating.  zabaglione is one of those recipes that require you to follow instructions carefully for the best results.  but that does not mean that you cannot improvise.  for this recipe, the technique is intact, it is the components that have changed.

the first change came when i decided to replace the espresso with a strong batch of black tea.  this dark tea was combined with the pennington’s strawberry rye and a little sugar to make the soaking liquid for the savoiardi.

to further adapt the recipe, the traditionally called for marsala was omitted from the zabaglione and the strawberry rye was used in a one to one switch.  to keep it light and simple, whipped cream was used rather than whipped mascarpone cheese.  the result of these changes is a lovely, creamy whiskey and tea infused dessert that is both simple and sophisticated.

the best type of cookie for this recipe is a true italian savoiardi, a crispy lady finger that soaks up the tea and rye syrup.  finding them in the grocery store can be a challenge but in nashville, i quickly found them at publix.  for best results, make the dessert the day before so that it has time to set and make cutting it into portions for serving.

 strawberry tea-ramisu
1 (8″x 8″) pan serving 6-8
1 (7ounce) package of savoiardi 
1 pint fresh strawberries
white chocolate shavings
tea syrup, recipe follows
zabaglione, recipe follows
press plastic wrap into an 8″x 8″ dish so that the sides and bottom are covered.  dip a few of the savoiardi into the tea syrup and line them up on the bottom of the dish so that the surface is covered.  carefully spread a third of the zabaglione cream over the top using a small, offset palette knife or a spatula.  place enough tea soaked savoiardi over the top of the cream, going in the opposite direction to completely cover it.  top with another third of the zabaglione cream and spread it out evenly.  repeat the process with the final portion of tea soaked savoiardi and zabaglione cream.  press plastic over the surface and allow it to sit in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.  
to serve the dessert, carefully invert the dessert onto a plate-do not remove the plastic on the cream side, leave it intact for now.  holding the plastic wrap that is lining the bottom of the pan, gently pull the dish away.  remove the plastic wrap that is on the cookie side of the dessert and place a serving dish over the dessert and invert it.  remove the remaining plastic wrap and using the tip of the palette knife to create a swirled design over the top of the dessert.  cut into the desired portions and serve with slices of fresh strawberries and a generous sprinkle of white chocolate shavings.
tea syrup
2 cups water
6 black tea bags, single cup size
3 tablespoons pennington’s strawberry rye
1/3 cup sugar
bring the water to a boil over high heat.  add the tea bags and allow the tea to steep for at least 5 minutes and as long as 10 minutes.  remove the tea bags and gently squeeze the liquid out of them and into the pot.  
to make the syrup, measure out 1 1/2 cups of warm tea and combine it with the rye and sugar.  gently mix to dissolve the sugar.  set aside to cool completely.  can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
zabaglione cream 
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup pennington’s strawberry rye
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
in a heat proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and rye together.  to create a double boiler, choose a pot that is large enough to allow the bowl to rest over a few inches of water without touching.  over medium-low heat, whisk the mixture continuously until it reaches 135 degrees F.  
pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer with the wire whisk and allow it to whip until it reaches a thick ribbon.  fold in the whipped cream and use immediately.