Levana Kirschenbaum has to be one of the hardest working chefs I know. She teaches kosher cooking classes, has three cookbooks under her belt (with one more on the way!), is starting a new line of dairy-free spelt desserts, she just finished renovating her website, Levana Cooks (adding a blog that she updates regularly), AND she is constantly increasing her knowledge to cater to various special diets with her recipes:
"I always offer gluten-free recipe options, not just because I myself am sensitive, but because it is every bit as delicious. You will be very pleased to see how many of my recipes (maybe up to 90%) are gluten-free in my next cookbook, which I am hard at work on!"
In the meantime, head over to the New Levana Cooks Website to see what she is up to, and enjoy this delicious, Valentine's Day-worthy brownie recipe from her first cookbook, Levana's Table. After all, what says love more than fresh-from-the-oven, rich and gooey chocolate? …
Levana's Versatile Chocolate Brownies
"Brownies are a perennial favorite, and no one seems to tire of them, especially because I make so many variations, always using the basic recipe."
- 8 Ounces Best Quality Dark or Semisweet Chocolate, chopped, or 2 Cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips
- 2 Sticks (1 cup) Dairy-Free Margarine
- 4 Eggs
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
- 1/2 Cup Flour (if making for Passover, 1/2 cup potato starch) Gluten-free, use brown rice flour
- 3/4 Cup Toasted Pecans (300 degree oven-10mn), broken into pieces
Preheat oven to 375*f. Melt chocolate and margarine in a small saucepan over very low heat, or in a microwave for about 1 minute. In a food processor or with an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture, flour and vanilla, and mix until just combined. Fold in the nuts by hand. Pour into a greased 11-inch round springform tart pan, or 10 inch square pan, and bake for 35 minutes, until the top is barely firm; it will set completely with the residual heat sticking to the pie. Let cool before cutting.
- Sea salt and caramel: bring the salt to 1 tablespoon, and add 1 tablespoon caramel extract (easily available in health food stores)
- Espresso and brandy: include 1 tablespoon instant espresso or coffee powder, decaf ok, and 3 tablespoons rum, brandy and bourbon.
- Mint: Add a few drops peppermint extract (available at health food stores)
- Peanut butter: Instead of 1 cup margarine, use 1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup peanut butter
- Use other kinds of nuts. Or no nuts at all