CAKE BOSS RECIPE: Chocolate Brownie Clusters
Brownies from Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia, by Buddy Valastro.

In a bakery like Carlo's, everybody contributes some recipes at some time or another.

These cookies, which replicate the flavours and textures of a brownie in a meringue-like cookie that's miraculously crisp on the outside and gooey in the middle, were the invention of the late, great baker, Sal Picinich (who passed away while I was writing this book), and they're pretty ingenious.

The batter looks like an unholy, goopy-gooey mess.These can only be spooned on to your baking sheet; the dough is too sticky for a pastry bag and too messy to work with by hand.

But trust me: once these get into the oven, something magical happens and these ugly ducklings turn into perfect swans.
BUDDY VALASTRO

CAKE BOSS RECIPE: Chocolate Brownie Clusters
Makes 18

3 extra-large egg whites
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups unsalted raw walnut halves

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 165C. Put the egg whites and lemon juice in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Be sure the bowl is immaculately clean. Whip on low speed for 2 minutes, then on maximum speed until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.

Sift the sugar and cocoa powder into the bowl together, then fold into the batter with a rubber spatula until the batter is smooth and shiny. Fold in the walnuts until they are well coated with the batter. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, using non-stick spray or a dab of butter in each corner to glue the paper in place.

Drop heaped tablespoons of dough, 1.5cm apart, including three or four walnuts in each one. Bake until the outside has crisped and the bottom starts to pull away from the parchment paper, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. As soon as the clusters can be moved, use a spatula to transfer them to a rack and let them cool.

Enjoy the cookies right away, or store when completely cool in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

From Cake Boss: Recipes and Stories from Mia Famiglia

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