Sunday, March 24, 2013

With Subtle Notes of Blackberries

If you read about wine, go to tastings, collect wines, or hell, even buy wine, chances are you've seen phrases like this--'with the subtle note of blackberries', 'starting off with tropical notes ending with vanilla tones', 'hits the palate with a citrus wave ending with a buttery mouthfeel'.  Now, I love wine...but try as I might, more times than not, wine will invariably taste like...well, wine.  I can tell the difference between a good and bad wine (no Mad Dog here!) and absolutely appreciate a Justin cab or a Stony Hill chardonnay, but I could probably count on one hand the times where I have actually been able to discern individual notes in a glass of wine, but that won't stop me...I'll keep drinking away.

It was those wine liner notes that came to mind after baking the other day.  Although it was those 'subtle notes of blackberries' that I was after, this post has nothing to do with wine.  What this post does have is chocolate.  And blackberries.  And brownies.  All rolled into one gloriously dense, gooey, fudgy pan of cake with a slightly caramelized, thick swirl of jam throughout.

My sweet tooth, really my chocolate tooth, has been out of control lately.  I'm going to blame it on the Cacao Noel pastilles I bought at the Epicure Imports warehouse sale last month.  A small handful of their 64% dark couverture chocolate and a cup of tea has been dessert on a number of nights since I brought them into the house.  After a sample tasting at the sale, it was a no-brainer to buy a pound of them.  (It was also another no-brainer to pick up a second bag at the sale yesterday.)  I immediately wanted to make brownies with them.  Smooth, dark, and a touch bitter.

Why did I add blackberries?  Sure, I could  have just saved them for a breakfast smoothie, or added them to a bowl of yogurt and granola, but, why not brownies?  If you can pair dark chocolate with orange and raspberries...my thought was that it certainly couldn't hurt to try pairing chocolate with blackberries.

I had a clamshell of blackberries in the fridge and made a quick jam out of it.  You can do the same or use any good brand of jam that you may have on hand.  What you'll end up with is a dense brownie where every once in a while you'll get a hint of berry or a jammy taste depending upon how your swirls are mixed in.  I'm sure there are some of you out there saying 'Blasphemy!' for mixing anything into brownies (except maybe nuts and a glaze on top), but open your mind and your tastebuds for a few minutes.  You might be delightfully surprised.

Chocolate Blackberry Brownies
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Classic Brownies)
Makes 16 squares

5 tbsp butter, cubed
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup sugar
1/2-3/4 cup blackberry jam
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup flour


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter the bottom of an 8x8 inch pan and line with parchment.  Butter the top of the paper too.  


In a saucepan, bring about an inch or so of water to a simmer.  Nestle the bowl with the butter, chocolate, and chocolate chips on top of the pan.  Making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not come in contact with the water, continually stir the butter and chocolate until melted.  Remove from heat.

Whisk in sugar.  It will be grainy.  Add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly.  Add vanilla and stir.  Gradually add flour and salt.  Pour into pan, using a spatula to spread batter to edges.  Spread blackberry jam on top of batter and swirl into batter.  

Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out relatively clean, about 40-50 minutes.  It's okay if it comes out with a little chocolate, but you don't want it wet with batter.  If you use more jam, you'll require a little more time.

Let cool on rack and cut into squares.

Note:  If you make your own quick jam, use one package of blackberries (4-6 oz) with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar.  Bring to boil, lower heat and let simmer until it thickens a bit.  I used a potato masher to mash the berries.  




1 comment:

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