terrifying a little scary.
When I was a little girl, I didn’t actually ever have my own bike. I either borrowed one from one of my sisters, or I borrowed one from a friend. They all usually needed theirs, though, so we tended to just walk everywhere.
Three years ago, the Hubster bought me my very first bike. I know…I got my first bike at 29…weird. I was as excited about it as a 9 year old. Really. I would make him ride around the neighborhood with me all the time.
Then all our stuff got packed up and I didn’t ride my bike for almost 2 1/2 years.
We were reunited last week when our household goods finally arrived.
I love my bike so much. You have no idea.
But I may never ride it out of my neighborhood again.
Okay, first of all, it’s exhausting. I anticipated this, of course, especially since we have hills around us, but seriously. Exhausting.
Second of all, railroad tracks and storm grates are the devil. Railroad tracks are painfully bumpy, but storm drains are utterly terrifying. It doesn’t matter that I would have to be shrunken with a ray gun to fall into one, I’m still convinced that they’re all going to swallow me and my bike up, never to be seen again. Except by the sewer creatures that stalk the night. Or maybe the as yet unseen Morlocks. Either way, I’m doomed.
I’ve been telling myself that if I hadn’t also participated in a particularly brutal Zumba class that morning, I would have done better at this ride, but I’m really just trying to make myself feel better. The real truth is that between the stress of having thousands of pounds of speeding steel whizzing by my left side, the terror at inexplicably falling through an impossibly small storm grate, and my utter lack of experience in using the proper gear at the right time…well, things just didn’t go too well. I had to console myself with a second frosty Starbucks drink, on top of my usual weekly treat.
And then I went home and made some brownies as a reward. If I’m going to be captured and eaten alive by Morlocks, I might as well fatten up for them.
The brownies in this recipe are my very favorite, and the base of every brownie recipe I make. They’re simple, fast, and taste as wonderful as any complicated recipe out there. Since the brownies are so very simple, I wanted the mousse to match. In order for this to be as easy as the brownies, I turned to a new favorite recipe of mine, Grasshopper Pie from my friend Heather over at Sprinkle Bakes.
I made Heather’s pie back in May to celebrate the release of her cookbook, and it is so wonderful! I loved how incredibly easy it was, so I tweaked it to suit my needs for these decadent brownies. Some melted marshmallows, a little espresso…
…and some fluffy whipped cream made the perfect espresso mousse to top my yummy brownies. The best thing about this mousse, after how delicious it is, is that it literally takes five minutes to makes. It’s fantastic!
I wanted to add some texture to this recipe, and since I’m completely obsessed with these crunchy little dark chocolate covered bits of biscuit from Valrhona, I went crazy.
If you don’t have access to these, you can substitute mini chocolate chips, or another darker chocolate garnish that has a nice bite or crunch. Whatever you choose, sprinkle them on as soon as you have the mousse smooth, then chill everything for at least an hour.
I made these a few days ago because I was really craving something rich and chocolaty, and they fit the bill perfectly, without being overly rich. The variety of textures between the firm brownies, the light mousse, and the crunchy candies is perfect, and the flavors compliment each other wonderfully, without being overpowering in any way. Even with a 30 minute bake time, plus cooling and chilling times, these were done in just a few hours. The actual work time was only about 10 minutes. Seriously. You could easily make these brownies the morning that you intend to serve them and have them ready by lunchtime. Plus, they keep beautifully, so they can be made a day or two in advance and kept chilled in an airtight container.
Make these at your own peril…I promise you’ll want to keep them all for yourself. Enjoy!
Espresso Mousse Brownies
Makes 1 8×8-inch pan
FOR THE BROWNIES
1/2 cup (50 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (64 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 grams) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE MOUSSE
25 large (or 250 mini) marshmallows (130 grams)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) strong espresso
1 tablespoon (15 ml) créme de cacao, optional (if omitted, replace with another tablespoon if espresso)
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
Whipped Cream, optional
To make the brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Grease and flour and 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish.
In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in the espresso powder until dissolved. Stir in the sugar until combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
Whisk in the dry ingredients until combined and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Allow brownies to cool completely before topping with mousse.
To make the mousse: In a large, heatproof bowl, microwave the marshmallows until very puffy, about 45 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir until they have lost their shape and completely melted.
Stir the espresso and créme de cacao into the marshmallows until smooth and uniform. Allow the mixture to cool, and whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
Fold the whipped cream into the marshmallow mixture until smooth.
Assemble: Spoon the mixture evenly over the cooled brownies, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Completely cover the top with Valrhona Crunchy Pearls, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, or other garnish. Chill until set (about an hour).
Top with whipped cream and garnish with espresso beans, if desired. Serve immediately.