Saturday, February 13, 2010

Experimental Brownies Take 2

So about a year ago, I made experimental brownies with cherry juice instead of sugar.  And they turned out well, but had room for improvement.   One change I made was trying to make a smaller batch, used a 9x9 pan rather than a 13x9.  I also modified a recipe for cocoa brownies from smittenkitchen, which as some of you may know, is my favorite food blog.  Their texture was again, not typical of brownies, almost like chewy fudge, but was less weird (maybe because they were thicker brownies?).  They were (or are, as there are still 2 left by some miracle) very dark with fruity undertones.  I think they are delicious, a nice substitute for a 72% cocoa bar and I would call them a success for dark chocolate lovers out there.  Also they are very easy, you really can do them in one bowl, no separate beating eggs or tempering chocolate.  Plus if you line the pan with foil as recommended, cleaning up the pan is easy too.

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks, 5 ounces or 141 grams) unsalted butter
4 cups cherry juice
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, as I used)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
3/4-1 cup (66 grams, 2 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour (enough to help the batter stick together)
2/3 cup dried cherries

Boil cherry juice until it reduced to about 1 cup.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
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.

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 1/2 cup flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, add enough slowly until the batter is not runny, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the cherries, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, I found this was about half an hour, but you should watch them carefully after 20 minutes.  Allow to cool (or don't, I didn't and they seemed fine).
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

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