In case you haven’t noticed, I have a lot of baking pans. All different shapes and sizes. I have round pans and square pans, three different sizes of bundt pans, loaf pans, madeleine pans, and sheet pans galore. And I have muffin pans in jumbo, standard, and mini. So you’d think I’d be all set when it comes to baking pans. And I was. Until I encountered this:
It’s a micro-mini muffin pan, and I was instantly smitten. See how tiny the wells are? So cute!!!
But what to bake in it? I’m fairly sure that a dense batter will always be necessary, because overly fluffy cakes would have no substance and might be too airy to release cleanly. For my inaugural bake, I decided to go straight to the densest type of recipe– a brownie from my favorite chocolate author, Alice Medrich. To give it an extra jolt of flavor (got to go intense for such tiny bites!) I added instant espresso powder to the mix. And then some chocolate ganache. And then coffee beans on top, because why not?
The results were incredible. They were deeply fudgey with a nice kick of espresso, and the crunch from the beans was a perfect accent. And the micro-minis were the perfect size– they were perfectly poppable, and so rich that even a regular mini-muffin would have been too much (though you can feel free to make them that size if you like to go big). I ate a few out of hand and froze the rest on a sheet pan before sealing them in a freezer bag. I look forward to sneaking little bites of perfection over the next few months– they’re perfect to satisfy even the strongest chocolate craving!
Espresso Brownie Bites (makes about 64)
Brownies (from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet)
10 tbs. (1 stick plus 2 tbs.) unsalted butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. instant espresso powder/instant coffee granules
1/2 cup flour
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously spray the wells of your mini (or micro-mini) muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. In a saucepan set over simmering water (or the microwave) heat the butter, cocoa, and sugar until butter is completely melted and the mixture is hot to the touch.
3. Remove from heat and set aside for about 5 minutes, until slightly cooled.
4. Stir in vanilla, salt, and espresso powder, then beat in eggs one at a time.
5. Add flour and stir vigorously for 40 strokes with a spatula or wooden spoon. Batter will be thick and glossy.
6. Using a piping bag (easiest), mini ice-cream scoop (second easiest), or spoon (omg it takes forever), fill the wells of your greased muffin pan completely full.
7. Bake for about 10 minutes (for micro-minis), until a toothpick comes out with lots of moist crumbs clinging to it but no batter. Let cool in the pans for at least 15 minutes before attempting to remove.
8. Getting these to release can be tricky, even with your generous greasing of the pan. I used a plastic spoon (nicely rounded and it didn’t scratch the finish) to dig in the crack between the cake and the pan, just pushing it down in one or two spots, which was enough to pop the cake out. Do not try to slide the spoon around the edge of the pan– it just ends up making the edges rough.
You can see below that I’ve turned some of them upside-down, just for a little something different when glazing.
Ganache and Garnish
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 oz. heavy cream
Whole espresso beans
1. Heat heavy cream in microwave until hot (it took about 40 seconds for me) and then pour over chopped chocolate.
2. Let sit until chocolate is melted, then stir until smooth. I will note that higher-percentage chocolates tend to split when melted into ganache, so keep a little cream back and if your ganache does curdle, try whisking a spoonful or two of the ganache into the warm remaining cream, adding more and more (like a mayonnaise) until it smooths out again.
3. Place the brownie bites on a rack and spoon warm ganache over them– you can leave them right-side up or turn them upside-down, both are cute– and top with a single coffee bean.