Citrus Olive Oils
The theme for the last few days has been citrus. After a virtual but feisty tête à tête with a chef I've never met over the merits of bergamot olive oil, I was more determined than ever to make these brownies. His point was that Italians don't ruin foods with too much American creativity, but prefer simple, seasonal foods. I guess no one in Italy puts both lemon and olive oil on a salad?
I will chalk up my little back and forth to a possible language issue and the constraints of communicating via Twitter with a stranger. (Still, why go out of your way to say something negative about the food of a person you've never met?)
Well, my love for simple, seasonal foods is well-documented here. Occasionally there is a product that I love so much, I have to tell you about it. It will never be something artificial and horrifying but sometimes it will be slightly processed. As in the pressing of good quality citrus with good quality oils. It is not something I take issue with. I doubt most Italians would either.
For anyone willing to go out on a limb with me here, I promise you a sweet reward.
I've enjoyed Olivier's & Co's Bergamot Olive Oil for its bright floral citrus scent in salads. Bergamot is the citrus that lends its flavor and scent to Earl Grey Tea among other things. Check their site for additional recipes such as this one for a lemon olive oil pound cake. Customer service assures me that the Bergamot, while out of stock in the online store, is available in physical stores.
Once you've tried this bergamot oil, or perhaps another I like, Pasolivo of California, you will want to have at least one on hand in the pantry at all times. I profiled Pasolivo in my gourmet food column here, Meyer Lemon Olive Oil. They grow heirloom varietals, and press the citrus with the olive oil, all organic, too! I particularly like shaved fennel and celery salads with these citrus oils. Beets also benefit from a drizzle. The Pasolivo Lime pressed olive oil is great over fish or guacamole.
Chocolate that is Good for You, the Cacao Farmers, the Environment and Brownies
I recently made Earl Grey chocolate truffles for a party where my go-to Irish Creme or Orange-Bourbon, were not appropriate. These truffles are delicious and got me thinking about the brownies I'd been meaning to make for ages. Could I make them now and maybe make them a little healthier, too? Yes!
The addition of olive oil (replacing some of the butter gives you healthier fat) and wheat flour (better for you than all purpose white) make these brownies slightly better for you. I took cues from two recipes I'd found and developed the one below.
The Askinosie Chocolate company exceeds "fair trade" and really exemplifies a company that we should all be proud to support. The triple bottom line - profits, people, planet - are woven through how they do business at Askinosie. Of course, if the chocolate weren't fantastic, it could be a nice, but forgettable, story.
Superior taste, good for the farmers (they source direct, pay above fair trade prices, give farmers a "Stake in the Outcome" and share net 10% with them through a phenomenal and transparent relationship), good for the planet (shade grown, natural packaging) -- this is truly a unique company, turning out some very fine chocolate and doing it in a way that we wish more companies would emulate.
Askinosie is a company I'll profile shortly with other of my favorite "3P purveyors."
Bergamot Olive Oil and Askinosie Cocoa Brownies
- 3/4 C butter, softened
- 1/4 C O& Co, bergamot olive oil
- 2 C sugar
- 1 1/4 Askinosie Cocoa (Soconusco, Mexico - Askinosie is the first in the world outside of Mexico in over 100 years to make chocolate from this historic region!)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 TBSP vanilla extract
- 1 tsp grated zest minneola
- 4 large eggs
- 1 C All-purpose flour
- 1/2 C wheat flour
- 2 C chopped chocolate
Preheat oven to 350.
Line or grease 9 x 13 pan
Melt butter and sugar over low heat or in microwave in medium bowl. Melt until shiny looking and hot but not bubbling. Transfer to mixing bowl.
Stir in cocoa, salt, baking powder, vanilla and zest.
Add eggs, beating till smooth, then add flour and chocolate chunks. Combine well and add to pan.
Bake 30 minutes or until tester comes out mostly clean with some crumbs and possibly some melted chocolate adhering. If your chunks are large-ish, be sure your tester is testing the crumb not just hitting melted chocolate. (This batch, my first, but definitely not my last, I over baked slightly. My tester kept coming out with wet chocolate, instead of moist crumbs. I totally forgot about the chunks of chocolate!)
Remove from oven, rest five minutes as is, then loosen edges with thin knife and transfer to wire rack to cool further.
Cut small, these are rich and fudgy. Even slightly overbaked these are delicious!