Eleven months ago, little Laura the fledgling blogger clicked ‘publish’ on a comprehensive recipe for her very own version of walnut fudge brownies. In her mind, these weren’t just any brownies; they were the best brownies in the world. Or possibly, the stratosphere.
In fact, these little squares of chocolatey goodness had been known to melt hearts, win friends and rescue cats out of trees. In a word? They were magnificent; unequivocally loved by lovers, family and friends for over ten years.
Over the next few weeks, the rain came and went; grey changed to green and Winter slowly melted into Spring. As the trees started to sprout new leaves, Laura’s little post sat virtually untouched on the dusty shelf of cyberspace. As the days passed, her mind began to question the worth of the little post. Was it special? Was it nonpareil?
Despite being a touch unyielding, the answer was a deep, dark recalcitrant ‘no’ that chimed from the depths of the Google ocean; for this is where the brownie recipe sat, obscured by weeds of advertising and over eleven million moist, chocolatey clones.
So, after that long introduction, you’re probably wondering why on earth I’m posting yet another brownie recipe. Ha. I’m wondering the same thing, actually. By feeble explanation, this recipe wandered into my head spontaneously whilst I was staring at a bag of cherries.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll be well aware that I’m all for seasonal, organic and local produce. Homegrown, if possible. I don’t normally tolerate imported fruit, particularly if it’s likely to have been waxed and sprayed prior to transport. However, after two months of mind-numbing apples, pears and oranges at the markets (darn boring Winter fruit) my resolve shattered and I squirreled home a bag of plump, dark stone fruit from the US of A.
Upon arriving home, I rinsed the fruit lightly, watching beads of moisture splash into the sink. I ate one, my mind flickering through options for dessert consumption: cherry pie? cherry clafoutis? black forest cake? Distractedly, my glance fell upon some nearby port wine and… click. Boozy cherry brownies: the dessert fairy had spoken.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that these are the best brownies in the world. Because they’re not. Well, probably not (how can you tell, with another eleven million comparisons?). I’ll tell you what I do know. These brownies are rich with dark chocolate, moist and fruity from the soft, boozy cherries and decidedly fudgy without being cloying. They’re naturally bittersweet. Their dark tinge of streaky crimson looks beautiful on the plate as it seeps into accompanying ice cream.
Oh, that reminds me: on Saturday night, we ate them warm à la mode; drizzled with chocolate fudge and adorned with clotted cream. Four spoons clinked upon stoneware as we scraped up the last drops of melted vanilla and port wine. So, so delicious.
I’d encourage you to try these if you want another brownie recipe in your repertoire. All superlative claims aside, they’re pretty darn good.
Makes about 16 good-sized pieces
- 150g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup (65g) unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa
- 150g unsalted butter, chopped
- 1 cup (200g) dark brown sugar
- 3 large free-range eggs, separated
- 1 cup (150g) plain flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (a good pinch)
- 400g fresh black cherries, stoned and halved (weight after stones have been removed)
- 1ooml good-quality port wine (substitute sherry or kirsch, if desired)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (360 degrees f). Grease a 20 x 20cm (8 x 8 inch) brownie pan and line it with baking parchment. Set aside.
Place your halved and stoned cherries into a medium bowl. Gently pour over the port wine. Leave to macerate overnight, or for at least one hour prior to cooking.
Place your chocolate and butter into a sturdy glass or metal bowl over a pan of simmering water (using the ‘double boiler’ technique). Allow to melt gently, stirring occasionally.
Sift your cocoa and flour into a large bowl. Mix in the brown sugar and salt, then make a well in the centre. Beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork before gradually whisking them into the cooled liquid chocolate mixture. Fold the now-thickened custard into the dry ingredients with most of the soaked cherry mixture (reserve a few cherry halves to top the brownie before baking). Stir well to thoroughly combine.
Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form. Fold the egg white mixture gently into the brownie batter, taking care not to knock out all of the air pockets. The mixture is ready when it’s lightly speckled with egg white (no large patches of white should remain).
Bake the brownie for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted liberally with good-quality cocoa.
- These brownies can easily be baked alcohol-free; just add in another 20g or so of butter to compensate for the reduced moisture.
- Feel free to play around with fresh and dried fruit, nut and booze additions: raspberries with Chambord, flaked almonds and chocolate chips with Amaretto, orange zest with fresh orange juice, Grand Marnier or Cointreau (or any other brand of triple sec), dried sour cherries and Kirsch. I haven’t tried all of these combinations but I’m intending to (at present, I can vouch for the orange and raspberry versions. Both are incredibly delicious).
- Pitting cherries can make you look like an artist (I was going to say ‘axe murderer’, but that sounded pretty bad). Be warned; wear gloves if you’re intending to split and hand-pit your fruit. The stains take ages to scrub off.
*Another last minute fact: these brownies are made so much better when they’re consumed with friends and family that you love to bits. Azza-the-awesome, I love you. Matt and Caryse, thanks for your unmatched wit, warmth and continued foodie inspiration (you guys are ah-mazing!) and huge thanks to little Boss for the wide-eyed tongue poking (I’m practicing for the next battle, just you wait!).