Renowned pastry chef and award—winning cookbook author Alice Medrich is no stranger to sumptuous chocolate desserts. Known as the "The First Lady of Chocolate," Alice has penned five award—winning chocolate and dessert cookbooks; her latest success—Bittersweet: Recipes & Tales from a Life in Chocolate—won the 2004 International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook of the Year Award.
Alice studied chocolate, pastry, and desserts at the prestigious École le Nôtre, near Paris, and then made her culinary mark on the Bay Area as the founder of Cocolat, a Berkeley dessert and pastry shop that she ultimately expanded to seven Bay Area stores over 14 years. After selling Cocolat in 1990, Alice found inspiration in her home kitchen. She has become one of the country's most respected cookbook authors and is the only two—time recipient of the prestigious James Beard Cookbook of the Year Award.
While Alice's culinary repertoire includes impressive creations such as Triple Chocolate Mousse with Carmel glazed Hazelnuts, she believes the simplest desserts can be the most elegant. Her divinely moist Espresso Swirl Brownies, with their deliciously gooey texture and coffee flavor, prove simplicity and decadence can go hand in hand.
To give your brownies a luscious texture, Alice recommends baking them for only twenty minutes at 400° F and then cooling them in a pan of ice water. "The ice keeps the brownies from rising and creates a crisp crust on the outside, while leaving the brownies soft and creamy on the inside," she explains. The baking technique, dubbed the "Steve Ritual," was discovered as a happy accident by her assistant's husband, Steve. When his less—than—trusty oven overheated during a college brownie—baking session, Steve attempted to save the brownies by throwing them in the freezer— with delicious results!
Alice emphasizes using quality ingredients as the key to baking consistently delicious brownies. Whether baking for her daughter Lucy or testing a recipe for her latest cookbook, Alice always uses C&H Pure Cane Sugar. "I use it because I can count on the results!" she says.