1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into squares
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into pieces
1/2 all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
All ingredients should be at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease bottom of a 9 1/2 -inch tart pan with removable bottom and line with parchment, then lightly spray with non-stick vegetable spray. Place pan on cookie sheet to catch any possible leaks. Place the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely. In a double boiler over hot water melt the butter and chocolate, stirring 2 or 3 times. Beat the cocoa, then the sugar, beating until it is incorporated. (If you are doing this by hand, use a whisk.) Beat in the eggs and vanilla. When incorporated, beat in the cream cheese until only small bits remain. Add the flour and salt and mix only until the flour is fully moistened. Stir in the nuts; scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. It will fill the pan almost to the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the batter has set. A toothpick inserted 1-inch from the side will come out clean. The mixture will puff and rise a little above the sides but sinks on cooling. While the brownie is baking, prepare the puddles. Melt the chocolate in a microwave, using 15 second bursts on high power and stirring several times, or in a double boiler over hot but not simmering water, stirring occasionally. Add the cream and stir gently until the mixture is smooth and dark. If necessary (if the cream was too cold and the mixture not entirely smooth), return it to the heat until totally fluid and uniform in color. As soon as the brownie is removed from the oven, grease the end if a wooden spoon (no larger than 1/2-inch diameter) and insert it into the brownie, at 1-inch intervals, all the way to the bottom, twisting slightly, as you insert and withdraw it, to create 23 to 28 little holes. Using as small spoon to pour or a zipzeal bag with a small piece of the corner cut, fill the holes until slightly rounded (you will need at least 1/2 teaspoon for each). Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely. The chocolate puddles will sink in as it cools and more ganache can be added, to fill any depressions, as long as the brownie is still warm enough to melt it. (If necessary, you can set the tart under a lamp to heat the ganache puddles and make them smooth.) Unmold by placing the pan on a canister smaller than the opening for the loose bottom and pressing sides firmly down. To remove the parchment, refrigerate the tart or allow it to sit at room temperature until the puddles are firm to the touch. Cover a flat plate with plastic wrap, spray it lightly with non-stick vegetable spray and set it in top of tart. Invert the tart; peel off the parchment, and reinvert it onto a serving plate. To serve, use a thin, sharp knife to cut wedges. Serve accompanied by a scoop of coffee or vanilla ice cream and any leftover ganache reheated as sauce.
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