Coffee Shop Brownie Bites

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I bring to you these two-bite morsels of yummy goodness.  The dark chocolate and espresso make these grown-up style brownie bites richly flavorful but not too sweet.  That little dent that forms on the top of a brownie bite when fresh out of the oven and starting to cool is filled with vanilla bean ganache.  The crunchy bits on top are cacao nib brittle bits.  These brownie bites are delicious warm and gooey or cooled and fudgey.  Make some today for those you love!  Who couldn't use a little hug of homemade chocolatey warmth and goodness. 

Coffee Shop Brownie Bites: The Brownie

I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa, which I found at my local Wegmans market.  Hopefully, it won't be hard for you to find.  In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter, add your cocoa powder, instant espresso coffee (usually easy to find in the coffee section - I used Ferrara brand, little 2 oz. jar w/red label.)  Once it's all melted and blended, allow to cool a bit.  Looks so dark and chocolatey!  

Beat the eggs and vanilla.  I tried some vanilla bean paste that I found at Wegmans.  It's thicker than vanilla extract and it's flecked with real vanilla bean seeds; just like you would see in vanilla bean ice-cream.  You can use regular vanilla extract as well.   Beat in the sugar.  Pour in the chocolate mixture and blend.

Stir in your dry ingredients, chocolate chips and spoon into lined mini-muffin tins.

Coffee Shop Brownie Bites: The Vanilla Bean Ganache

Heat your heavy cream to a simmer.  Pour over white chocolate chips and stir until the chips melt and the mixture is smooth.  I usually panic midway though my stirring that I did something wrong as it looks like it will never get smooth.  Don't panic, just keep stirring, it will work!  Stir in your vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.

Coffee Shop Brownie Bites: The Cacao Nib Brittle Bits

Cacao, /kəˈkou/ (also "cocoa") nibs are harvested from inside the cocoa bean and are used to make all things chocolate.  Because they are "raw chocolate" they are packed with all the antioxidant flavanoids and nutrients that make dark chocolate a superfood.  Raw cacao contains theobromine, a naturally non-addictive stimulant that can make some people feel "happy." I feel happy just thinking about nibbling some cacao nib brittle.  As for eating the nibs raw, they are generally very bitter.  Perhaps they would be less so if they were roasted or added to something (like cookie!)  I love them in this brittle because it's the perfect balance of bitter, nutty, sweet and salty.  The caramelized sugar adds just the right amount of sweetness - it doesn't overpower the nutty bitterness of the nibs.  The brittle is finished with a touch of salt which is wonderful with this combination.  Shh! I keep a secret stash of this brittle on hand.  You can have just a tiny nibble and it will satisfy your sweet/chocolate craving without overdoing it.  My local Whole Foods Market carries the TerrAmazon Brand of raw cacao nibs.  You can also try to find them in nut stores, health food stores or they are readily available online.  I promise they are worth a little searching!  

Making this brittle requires a little patience.  I ruined it on several occasions by turning up the heat too high in an attempt to speed up the process.  I learned that you just have to take your time and use a good pot with a heavy bottom.  You cook the sugar over low/medium-low heat without stirring until you see the edges of the sugar melt.  Then you can stir until it is all evenly melted.   Add the nibs, then stir and cook for about a minute.  Stir in butter for another minute and spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with flaked sea salt.   

Coffee Shop Brownie Bites: Assembly

Spoon or pipe the vanilla bean ganache onto the brownie bites and top with cacao nib brittle bits.  You can eat them warm and gooey or allow the ganache to firm up.  This can be sped up by refrigerating them.  They are so good!!  

Recipe:  Coffee Shop Brownie Bites

makes 72 mini-brownie bites - They freeze well ( :

Ingredients:

For Brownies:

1 stick + 6 2/3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup dark cocoa powder

1 tablespoon instant espresso granules

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

For Vanilla Bean Ganache:

2/3 cup heavy cream

12 ounces white chocolate chips

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

For Cacao Nib Brittle:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup raw cacao nibs

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt (such as fleur de sel)

Directions:

For Brownies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Note, if you use dark baking pans such as the darker non-stick variety, you'll want to drop the temperature 25 degrees, so 325.)

In saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and stir in cocoa powder and instant espresso.  Turn off heat and set aside so it cools slightly.

In large bowl, beat eggs and vanilla.  Mix in sugar.  Stir in the melted chocolate mixture.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture.  Mix until well combined but do not over beat.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon 1 tablespoon portions into lined mini-muffin tins and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan.

For Vanilla Bean Ganache:

Add white chocolate to medium sized heat-proof mixing bowl.  Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan over medium/high heat.  Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.  Stir in vanilla bean paste.  Spoon or pipe into the little dent formed on the top of the cooled brownie bites.

For Cacao Nib Brittle:

Line a half sheet pan (approx. 18” x 13”) with parchment paper and set aside.  Heat ½ cup sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low/medium-low heat.  Cook until sugar begins to melt around the edges of the pan.  Stir until all sugar is melted and is a light caramel color.  Add cacao nibs and cook for about 1 minute stirring constantly (may smoke a little.)  Remove from heat if it starts to get too hot.  Add butter and cook for about 1 more minute, stirring constantly.  Pour coated nibs onto prepared sheet pan and spread out.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Allow to cool completely.  Place in large zip bag and use rolling pin to gently crush into small bits (about the size of peas.)  Sprinkle brittle bits onto the warm vanilla bean ganache.

You can eat them when they're warm and gooey or let them firm up a bit.  You can firm them up quicker if you refrigerate them.  They freeze well in an airtight container.

I hope you enjoy the recipe! Thanks for spending some time in the cloud with me!  Tina ( :

My Recipe Outtakes, Brownie Bloopers:

Hmm, what did I learn??  Well don't try to use finely ground coffee instead of instant coffee.  I had gotten away with it in a cookie, apparently that logic doesn't transfer to a brownie. #CoffeeGritTeeth  LOL!  Use mini-cupcake liners, because this is what happens when you forget to spray the non-stick pan.  #BrownieDoOver  Hope your baking is blooper free!!