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Sincere Acts of Sweetness

January 17, 2014

Chunky Cherry Brownies

Technically there are two basic kinds of brownies: fudgy and cakey. Fudgy brownies usually begin with chocolate and butter that are melted together. Cakey brownies start with butter and sugar that are creamed together, with the chocolate added later.  For me, a brownie by its very nature should be fudgy because if it's not, then it's really just cake.  These brownies fall into the first category, fudgy! They are dense and moist and totally luscious.  Since they have more chocolate than any other ingredient, it's important to shell out a little extra dough for the good stuff. Avoid all the normal store brands of chocolate like Nestle, Bakers or Hershey's. Look for good brands such as Lindt, Scharfeen Burger, Valrona or Ghiradelli. Trader Joe's and Ikea store brands are both great options too and I would recommend them. I used a very fancy pants brand called Maracaibo Clasificado 65%. I get this from a chocolate shop hear where I live. It's not that expensive, actually and the flavor is fantastic.

Speaking of good stuff, let's talk about the cherries, the star of these brownies! I made these for my friend,Yvonne and her favorite flavor is cherry. Every time I have baked something and brought it in to work, the first thing she asks is if it has cherries in it. I told her that I would make her something for her birthday that had lots of cherries. So I got best quality I could and I ordered a pound of  dark chocolate covered cherries from Oh! Nuts, cut a bunch of them up into small pieces and dumped them right into the batter. They were so great to bake with!

Last, just for extra appeal, when the brownies came out of the oven, I poured small spoonfuls of maraschino cherry juice here and there over the top of the brownies. Just enough to add a little extra cherry-ness. Then, I drained a handful of maraschino cherries, cut them up into little pieces and sprinkled them on top of the brownies, followed by a generous drizzle of white chocolate. These last steps definitely added some extra flavor as well as the making the brownies look a little prettier, but if you feel like omitting those steps, I promise you'll still love these brownies.

Chunky Cherry Brownies
Yield: 12 giant, 24 medium, 32 small brownies (depends on how you cut them)
This recipe can be easily cut in half...bake in 8x8 pan instead of 9x13.

2 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (64% cacao), finely chopped
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (not Bakers brand, please!)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract (see tip below)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour (I use unbleached)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate covered cherries, cut into small pieces (Not cherry cordials!)
12ish dark chocolate covered cherries, whole
8-12 maraschino cherries, drained
3ish tablespoons of reserved maraschino cherry liquid
1-2 ounces of good quality white chocolate, melted (I used Lindt)

Preheat the oven to 350F and make sure the rack is in the center of the oven.  Line a 9" x 13" the pan with parchment paper and spray it with Pam with Flour or with oil.

Setup a double broiler (here's a great step by step). Bring two inches of water to a boil in a small saucepan. In the bowl that you'll use on the top part of the double boiler, while it's on the counter (not sitting above the boiling water), place the butter, semisweet chocolate and the unsweetened chocolate in it and set it aside. Once the water starts to boil, turn off the stove and place the bowl with the chocolate and butter on top. Let it sit for a few minutes and stir occasionally with a spatula until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is totally smooth and very shiny. If the chocolate doesn't melt all the way, make sure there's water in the pot, turn the heat back up a little. Just make sure all the

Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and if the bowl is a bit on the small side, pour its contents into a bigger bowl. Whisk in the sugar, making sure not to leave any big hunks. Then add the eggs, one at a time, stirring really well to incorporate each one. Then stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. (Tip: if you don't want to use almond extract, just replace it with vanilla. It adds a subtle flavor that I think works well with the cherry but you'll still have awesome tasting brownies without it).

Whisk in the flour and salt but be careful not to over mix! You should stop mixing as soon as you notice the batter go from dull and lumpy to smooth and shiny. It's okay if you see a few small pockets of flour. Resist the urge to over mix! Add in the chopped up cherries, again being careful not to over mix.

Pour the battered into the parchment paper lined pan and spread evenly. Then place each one of the chocolate covered cherries down into the batter, about half way and continue doing that until all the whole cherries are half-way submerged.  This will add a nice texture to the finished product later. If you want to add more than or less than twelve cherries, be my guest. If you want to skip this step, that's okay too.

Bake the brownies for 35 to 40 minutes and then check every five minutes or so after until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out *almost* clean (a few freckles of crumbs is exactly what you want). Be careful not to over bake! Take the brownies out of the oven and let it sit on a rack and cool completely. As the brownies are cooling, use a spoon to saturate a little bit the maraschino juice all over the surface of the brownie. It will pool a bit on top but will eventually soak down into the brownie. I drizzled a little bit all over the surface -- there's no exact science to it and it's optional too so if you want to skip this step, that's okay too.  I highly recommend putting the brownies into the refrigerator overnight because it makes them a bit easier to cut cleanly later. I let mine stay in overnight.

When the brownies are cool to the touch, scatter the maraschino cherries over the surface. Then melt a little white chocolate (I used the microwave) and drizzle it all over the surface of the brownies. Once the white chocolate firms up (if you're in a hurry you can pop them into the refrigerator), you can cut them and devour.  Keep them in a sealed container until they all disappear.



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