Lemon and dark chocolate may not always sound like a match made in heaven, but the two flavors are a surprisingly good combination. The bright and tart flavor of the lemon really highlights the richness of chocolate by contrasting with it. You get a lot of chocolate flavor, and a much more refreshing finish from the lemon. Of course, both lemon and dark chocolate are strong flavors, and you need to balance them to get a good mix in the finished product. Sometimes this means adding just a hint of chocolate to a lemon dessert. In this case, it means giving a hint of lemon to a chocolate dessert in these Lemon and Dark Chocolate Brownies.
This recipe definitely delivers a rich chocolate brownie with a pop of lemon to it. I used a favorite recipe for Chocolate Mint Sticks as the inspiration for these brownies, as that recipe introduces mint in a subtle way and seemed like the perfect fit for a lemon twist. The brownies have a fudgy dark chocolate base and they’re topped with a very thin layer of lemon icing, made with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. They’re finished with a very thin drizzle of chocolate glaze, which really serves to drive home the chocolate flavor and is also a nice way to temper the sweetness of the icing.
The brownies are baked and cooled, before being spread with the lemon icing. The iced brownies should spend a few minutes in the refrigerator to set the frosting, before the chocolate glaze is added to finish them, too. The brownies can then sit at room temperature until the glaze sets up – but it is much quicker to pop them into the fridge or freezer for a few minutes (especially on a hot day!) to make slicing easier and neater. I think that fresh lemon juice and zest is going to deliver the most refreshing lemon flavor for this frosting, but you can substitute milk for the lemon juice and use lemon extract to add lemon flavor.
Lemon and Dark Chocolate Brownies
2-oz dark chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
Melt chocolate and butter together in a small bowl in the microwave, stirring after every 30-second interval until smooth.
In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla extract until smooth. Beat in chocolate mixture, then stir in the flour at low speed (or by hand). Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 27-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Cool completely on a wire rack.
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Spread evenly on cooled chocolate brownies, then refrigerate for 5 minutes while you prepare the chocolate glaze.
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 tbsp butter
Melt together chocolate and butter in a small bowl, in the microwave, stirring after every 30-second interval until smooth. Immediately pour the hot glaze (it should be fairly fluid) over the chilled chocolate/lemon base. Tilt the pan around to coat the lemon frosting as much as possible, or simply drizzle it over evenly. Some of the frosting will show through; this is ok.
Refrigerate or freeze for at least 10-20 minutes before removing foil and chocolate bars from pan and cutting into 24 thin bars with a sharp knife.
Brownies can be served at room temperature, but are also good when chilled.