Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Orange Dark Chocolate Brownies with Orange Blossom Cream / Prokofiev's "Love of Three Oranges"

Our favorite little Italian restaurant in Hollywood serves what might be the most exquisite dessert on earth. (Vivoli's "Mattonellina di Cioccolatto" is essentially a silky, dense dark chocolate terrine covered with a light orange syrup and candied orange peel.) Several days ago, I found myself craving the dark chocolatey, fudgey, orangey goodness of Vivoli's Mattonellina. Brownies proved to be the perfect guinea pig for my first chocolate + orange experiment.

Double Orange Dark Chocolate Brownies with Orange Blossom Whipped Cream
Recipe loosely adapted from Earthbound Farm Organic Farmstand

20 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp instant espresso powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp orange extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp orange peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with foil. Generously butter or spray the foil. 

Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Add the espresso powder, vanilla, and orange extract and stir to blend. Cool the mixture for 15 minutes. (You'll be adding eggs later, and don't want to accidentally cook them!)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the nuts and orange peel; toss to coat evenly. 

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until just blended. Add in the cooled chocolate mixture and stir until just blended. Add in the flour mixture and, again, stir until just blended. (Overbeating will result in deflated brownies.) Pour the mixture into the foil-lined pan.

Bake the brownies for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool the brownies completely in the pan and stick them in the refrigerator for 6 hours. (Eating them sooner is definitely ok; just know that the texture is so fudgey that they won't hold together in your hand, and need to be refrigerated for 6 hours to properly congeal). Keep chilled. 

To make the orange blossom whipped cream: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 1/2 cup of cream with a few tablespoons of powdered sugar (to your taste) and one tablespoon of orange blossom water. 

{Why no, doctor; nothing is wrong with this picture}
{Adding in the espresso powder and extracts created beautiful swirls}
{Fresh out of the oven. Should you fail to resist the urge to chill these before testing, I won't blame you}
{Somebody call animal cruelty!}
For a musical pairing, enjoy Sergei Prokofiev's "Love of Three Oranges." The opera is based on an Italian fairytale, in which an evil witch curses a prince with an obsession for three oranges. He finds two oranges and opens them; beautiful fairy princesses emerge, but quickly die of thirst. He opens the third orange and falls in love with the fairy princess inside. It's strange, absurd, surreal, and beautiful in the way that most fairytales are. Musically speaking, it's written neo-classically - meaning taking classic ideas and giving them a modern, sophisticated, playful twist. (Sort of like the addition of three oranges to a classic brownie recipe.) Enjoy!


  1. These look delicious! I'm a huge fan of chocolate (and brownies) so naturally, these look incredible

  2. I am a huge fan of brownies, but love the out of ordinary kinds like cheesecake brownies, caramel this! This is definitely something I'd love to try :) Thank you for sharing and hope all is well Maia!

  3. I love brownies and these look amazing!

  4. LOVE it! Music to my ears. Haven't heard the Prokofiev for such an age so you've not only inspired me to listen to it again (great story, I'd forgotten, shame on me) and adore how we need to eat this scrumptious brownie with it - especially with that cream. I am a huge orange blossom fan, too!

  5. these brownies look truly sensational, thanks for sharing!

  6. These look phenomenal! I haven't listened to Prokofiev in a while either...might have to try this pairing :)

  7. I love that combination of chocolate and orange!!! Have a nice weekend!

  8. These look amazing - I love a good brownie!

  9. oh my that looks heavenly. especially with a dollop of whipped cream and orange zest shavings on top.. mmm

  10. This experiment turned into an unbelieveble temptation! The marriage between chocolate and orange is one of the happiest on earth and you did a great job with this recipe. I ADORE you little dog, he make me smile and feel totally prisoner of his adorable face! Un grande bacio, Part

  11. wow this looks incredible!

  12. The brownies look delicious! Will definitely have to try these!!

  13. These look amazing!!! Wonderful and decadent! And your pooch is a doll~

  14. Wow this is so looking yummy. Will definitely try this. Following you. Hope you can visit me too and see whether you like to follow.

  15. I'm soooo tardy in posting this response, Maia... my apologies. Thank you for the "eye candy" (brownies with orange throughout -- what a treat!) I also enjoyed your musical pairing, which hails back to my piano recital days... played the March from this many times! As always, it's a pleasure to visit your blog. :)

  16. Dear Maia,

    These brownies look deliciously decadent and I love when one pairs a recipe with a piece of music, always interesting to try and appreciate the rationale because it is so subjective and yet creative.

  17. wow! love this recipe so gorgeous!! really like your blog!! do drop by mine. wanna follow thru GFC if u like will follow back:))

    I have a worldwide perfume giveaway planned in a weeks make sure to drop by and dont miss it!

  18. Oh my goodness!!!! I made these the other day, talk about amazing!!!! love, love this recipe, stumbled across your blog from a another blogger's site. I'm a new follower of yours too.

  19. Hello, Maia! Back for seconds... :) Just wanted you to know that you've "won" The Versatile Blogger Award. I enjoy your musical recipes! (see: )

  20. Chocolate and orange... a match made in heaven! I'm DEFINITELY trying this with GF flour, they look amazing!

  21. Love the blog - so maybe we can follow each others blog!? ;)