Monday, February 23, 2015

Wait! Stop What You're Doing!

Maybe you're a lot like me and think brownies are only ho-hum, not too special, you know...brownies.  Then you find yourself invited to an Oscars viewing party and you want to bring something.  You have no idea what you're going to make, other than something dessert-ish.  Then you're reading through your blogs feed and come across the latest post from Luisa Weiss, aka The Wednesday Chef.  She's writing about something called Boston Brownies from a German baker named Gerhard Jenne.  Brownies with cranberries in them.  Cranberries.  You think of your deep love of cranberries and think how right it is to combine the two.  And she's raving about them.  Raving...over brownies.  And there you have it.  You know what you're taking to that Oscars viewing party.

But that's not quite all of it.  You decide to use the Special Dark cocoa.  After the brownies are baked, still warm, fresh out of the pan, onto the cutting board where you're cutting them into their little squares, getting them ready for their party debut, you have to try a little piece to make sure they've turned out okay.  You bite into it.  You get a burst of cranberry as your teeth sink into the deep, dark chocolate.  And you find yourself holding onto the edge of the counter and saying to yourself...oh, fuuuuuddddggggeeee... (But it's not really 'fudge' that you're saying.)  It's that kind of brownie.  And you think to yourself....'Why don't I make brownies more often?'

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Cranberries
Adapted from The Wednesday Chef's adaptation of Gerhard Jenne's recipe
Makes One 8x8 inch pan (about 16-20 brownies)

3 eggs
175 grams sugar (1 1/3 cups)
175 grams butter (6 1/4 oz)
150 grams chocolate, preferably dark, mine was 64% (5 1/3 oz)
175 grams flour (1 1/3 cups plus 1 tbsp)
4 tbsp cocoa powder, preferably Hershey's Special Dark
1 tsp espresso powder
1/4 tsp salt
175 grams cranberries (6 1/4 oz)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.  Chop the chocolate into small pieces.  In a small bowl, add flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt.  Whisk and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk eggs and add sugar, whisking until combined and frothy.  In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, then turn off heat and add chocolate, stirring until chocolate melts.  Add chocolate mixture to eggs and sugar, whisking until combined.  Gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.  Add cranberries and stir into batter.  Pour batter into pan and bake for 25-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Cut and serve.

Notes:  I followed Luisa's example and weighed the ingredients this time around.  I have a little kitchen scale that I got for $5.00.  It does the trick.  Regular cocoa will work just fine in this recipe, but I urge you to seek out the Special Dark.  It takes the fudginess to a whole other level and when you get a bite of the dark cake and tart cranberry, it is just magic.  Seriously.  You can use frozen cranberries, but the batter will seize as you're mixing the fruit in.  Luisa does mention this, also noting to work quickly, but I don't think I worked quickly enough, so a good 60-70% of my batter was a big seized lump.  But...I figured it would melt as it warmed in the oven, so I didn't worry too much.  Saying that, while Luisa says to bake for 25 minutes, mine baked for 40 minutes, maybe a little more (I also forgot to set a timer).  I'd bet the longer length of time is because for the first 20 or so minutes, I was obsessively opening the oven and spreading the batter over the pan as it gradually warmed. advice?  Thaw your berries and make sure they're room temperature.  Unless you want to deal with seized batter.

It's like this...really...

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