Vancouver chef makes rich brownies perfect for chocolate aficionados

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter

Published:

 

Brownies From Heaven

Brownies From Heaven treats are available at Gougér Cellars Winery at 1812 Washington St., Vancouver (360-909-4707, http://gcwinery.com). The winery is open 2 to 8 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The brownies also are available online at http://www.browni..., by e-mailing browniesfromheave... or by calling 503-267-1749.

Some Brownies From Heaven products are on the dessert menu at Twilight Pizza Bistro in Camas (224 N.E. Fourth Ave., 360-833-9222, http://www.twilig...>

Brownies are available in seven flavors, with more on the way. Owner and chef Bonnie Gougér prices the brownies, which are 6 to 8 ounces, at $6 for one or $10 for two. Brownie bites, available by special order only, are $2.50.

Brownies From Heaven creations also are available at certain local festivals and events. For example, they’ll be at the Spring Beer & Wine Fest at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland in April (http://www.spring...>

Brownies and truffles are rich, delicious treats on their own, but combined they reach a whole new level of decadence. That’s what Vancouver chef Bonnie Gougér discovered when she got to experimenting in the kitchen and stumbled upon what would become the foundation of Brownies From Heaven, a business she launched in 2008.

For her Brownies From Heaven creations, Gougér takes a made-from-scratch brownie, hides a homemade truffle inside, covers it with flavored cream cheese, then tops it with chocolate ganache and various garnishes.

“I just got to playing around,” said Gougér, 49, a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont.

The early brownies were flat, but Gougér has since opted for mounds. She also has added flavors in addition to her initial raspberry offering. Currently the brownies come in seven varieties: raspberry, mocha, peanut butter, coconut, peppermint, and most recently, blue cheese and merlot cranberry. Gougér is developing hazelnut and orange ginger flavors she hopes to introduce this month, and is considering bringing back the muscat and chipotle versions she has offered in the past.

The muscat and merlot cranberry brownies use wine from Gougér Cellars Winery, owned by her husband, Gary. Currently, Gougér Cellars Winery in downtown Vancouver is the best place to find Brownies From Heaven treats, though Gougér is thinking about opening a storefront in the area. She also sells the brownies online and at special events and festivals.

Recently, Gougér offered her signature brownies at Chocolate Fest at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, and was pleasantly surprised by how well the new blue cheese flavor fared. She loves the combination, but feared customers might find the unexpected concept hard to swallow.

“Raspberry has always been our best seller, but the blue cheese blew it out the door,” Gougér said.

Decadent treats at home

The Brownies From Heaven recipes are a trade secret, but Gougér said it’s easy to make simpler brownies at home that are still tasty and interesting.

The Decadent Cocoa Brownie, for example, is a good place to start.

“It’s just a really good, chewy, fudgy brownie,” she said.

It’s also an easy recipe to jazz up with fun add-ins such as nuts, dried fruits and chocolate chips.

“This you can play with. I clean the pantry out,” Gougér said. “Use your imagination. The possibilities are endless.”

Her favorite combination of extras is dried cranberries with white chocolate chips and sometimes even coconut.

Another recipe that Gougér suggests for home chefs is her Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies. These use a different batter than the Decadent Cocoa Brownie and incorporate a cheesecake topping. Dollops of jam dropped on top of the cream cheese mixture and then swirled through it with a knife create visual appeal, as well as a delicious dessert, she said.

Her recipe calls for raspberry jam, but any flavor would work, as would a thick sauce such as caramel, Gougér said. People also could experiment with swapping the lemon juice in the cream cheese mixture for orange juice, then adding orange zest.

Decadent Cocoa Brownie

Yield: 20-24. Prep time: 15-20 minutes. Cook time: 25-35 minutes.

Courtesy of Bonnie Gougér of Brownies From Heaven.

2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (Gougér recommends Ghirardelli or Scharffen Berger brands)

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 large eggs

⅔ cup all-purpose flour

⅓ cup cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

Melt butter and chocolate in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring, until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Whisk in sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs one at a time until mixture is glossy and smooth.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt, then stir into chocolate mixture until combined.

Spread in pan and bake until a pick inserted in center comes out with crumbs, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool completely.

Experiment with add-ins such as dried fruits (cranberries, figs or cherries work well), nuts (try peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts or macadamia nuts) or other treats including toasted coconut or butterscotch or white chocolate chips. Mix and match to discover your favorite combinations.

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

Yield: 20-24. Prep time: 35 minutes. Cook time: 35-40 minutes.

Courtesy of Bonnie Gougér of Brownies From Heaven.

Brownie Batter:

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (use a high-quality product for best results)

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter

1¼ cups sugar

3 large eggs

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake Topping:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

⅔ cup sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 large egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350 F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

To make the brownie batter, melt chocolates with butter in a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, being sure to stir, then let cool. Whisk in sugar and eggs, one at a time, and whisk in vanilla and salt. Stir in flour until just combined and spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

To make the cheesecake batter, cream together cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in lemon juice, egg, vanilla and salt. Beat in flour and spread mixture in an even layer over batter.

Drop small spoonfuls of raspberry jam on top of the cheesecake batter and, with the end of a knife, drag through the top of the cream cheese batter to create swirls.

Bake brownies 35 to 40 minutes, or until top is puffed and a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it. Cool brownies completely in pan on a rack and chill, covered, at least six hours or overnight.