For seven years of their marriage, Susan Mall kept a secret from her husband.
Each time she’d make a pan of brownies he’d unsuccessfully try to cajole it out of her — the closely-guarded recipe for her gooey, chocolately brownies. But some secrets are just too good to let go of, especially when your husband is a chef.
The good news: Jeff finally got the recipe three years ago, and with a few modifications (he won’t say exactly what), Susan’s top-secret brownies became the “Can’t-Take-It-Off-The-Menu” centerpiece of Zin Restaurant’s ultimate brownie sundae.
And though I was afraid to ask what finally got Susan to cave, the resulting dessert — one that’s a perennial comfort-food fave at this haute home-cookin’ restaurant — could pistol whip spineless creme brulees and berry compotes any old day. And maybe that’s why it continues to remain a family secret.
Here are the stats: Homemade coffee-chocolate chip ice cream layered with bits of Susan’s fresh-baked brownies, Callebaut chocolate sauce, crunchy maple pecans, real whipped cream, a French brandied cherry. Plus a hefty wedge of more brownie just daring you to eat it.
Take on the challenge. We’ll keep that our little secret. Zin Restaurant, 344 Center St., Healdsburg, 707.473.0946.
Want more brownie deliciousness? Read on…
– The Killer Baking Company: Brownies from Rohnert Park’s Killer Baking Company were my top reason to visit Santa Rosa’s Wednesday night market through the long hot summer, but doubly so since Chef Michael recently released his new maple, brownie bit and pecan ice cream. Also available at Oliver’s Markets.
– Da Bombe Desserts: When not baking wedding cakes for the likes of Bruce Willis, Jenna Cook and Amy Westphal turn out lush cheesecakes, including brownie sundae: White chocolate cheesecake on a brownie crust. www.dabombedesserts.com
– Seed Restaurant: Expand your mind and your tastebuds at Santa Rosa’s live foods eatery. This version of a brownie sundae is a hemp brownie with vanilla ice cream, “live” caramel and soy whipped cream. 63 Sebastopol Avenue (on the EAST side of 101), Santa Rosa, 707.546.7333
– Best box mix: The truth is, that with a few exceptions (see above) home is where the best brownies are. BiteClub tried a few versions at local restaurants, but ended up unimpressed. The absolute best mix, hands down, is Trader Joe’s Truffled Brownie Mix. They rich, sinful and easy to claim as your own.
– Make it your dang self: Even if you’re not a baker, brownies are pretty fool-proof to make yourself. Patricia Taan from Forestville’s Farmhouse Inn sent BiteClub her favorite recipe.
Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies
1 lb. dark chocolate
6oz. unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 all-purpose flour
Melt chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of low-simmering water. Set aside.
Whisk eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla together in a large bowl. Stir in chocolate/butter mixture. Gently fold in flour. Pour batter into a pan lined with parchment. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until center is moderately firm. Cool. If refrigerated first, brownies will cut more smoothly.
Editor’s Note: Travel, dining and wine tasting can be complicated right now. Use our inspirational ideas to plan ahead for your next outing, be it this week or next year. If you visit restaurants, wineries, and other businesses during the pandemic, remember to call ahead, make reservations, wear a mask and social distance.