1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup well-chilled heavy cream
1 2”x2” brownie square
In a small saucepan sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it soften for 2 minutes. Add the milk and the espresso powder and heat the mixture over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the powder is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and set the pan in a bowl of ice and cold water, stirring the mixture every few minutes until it is thick and cold. In a small bowl beat the cream until it just holds stiff peaks and fold the coffee mixture into it gently but thoroughly. Spoon atop brownie square and garnish with berries.
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
Special equipment: An 8-inch square baking pan
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.