Wednesday, March 10

Grown-up Brownies

Fern Glen Inn •

This recipe comes to you courtesy of my previous two posts. After writing about green veggies, then inner children, where else could I go but to my brownie batter bowl?

For one thing, as much as I love my Brussels sprouts, I realize the vegetabley challenged among us might hesitate to spring them upon unsuspecting dinner mates. If you had been teetering on the fence over serving the sprouts, then fear no more. The solution, of course, is to end the meal with a rich chocolate dessert, then all else will be forgiven. (Actually, I find chocolate is the solution to many of life's problems, but that's a topic for another time.)

So I had to post a chocolate dessert—stat!—but which one? Brownies came to mind as an appropriate nod to the inner child in all of us. But with a twist. These brownies are all grown up. 

The basic recipe came from my brother-in-law, a man who knows his way around a kitchen. I did my usual tweaks and embellishments, this time adding Kahlua, dried cherries and hazelnuts. The liqueur adds moistness plus a complex layer of flavour. The cherries add an unexpected sweet-tart chewy element and the hazelnuts a mellow flavour and contrasting crunch. The result is a moist, dense, full-flavoured brownie.

Today I used Mocha-flavoured Kahlua, but any coffee or chocolate flavoured liqueur will suit. Had there been Kirsh or Cherry Brandy in my bar, I might have tried either of those in order to highlight the dried cherries in the batter. I love hazelnuts in this combination, but pecans or almonds would make a worthy substitute.

Grown-up Brownies 
with Kahlua, Dried Cherries and Hazelnuts

Serves 8 - 16, depending on serving size

  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons Kahlua (or other coffee- or chocolate-flavoured liqueur)
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a baking pan or line it with parchment paper. I use an old-fashioned 7" x 11" brownie pan, but you can also use an 8" square pan or 9" round pan.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a microwave or in a large bowl over simmering water. Whisk in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then the salt and Kahlua.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder over top. Stir until nearly combined. Add the dried cherries and hazelnuts and gently blend until no flour streaks remain. 

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until the top is dry and set and a toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean or with moist crumbs attached, about 30 - 40 minutes depending on your pan. Check early in the time range, then often, to avoid overcooking and drying out the brownies.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Brownies keep well, stored in an airtight container, for 2 days; or wrapped tightly in plastic or foil and frozen for up to a month.

Grown-up Brownie Sundaes
Reheat brownies in a moderate oven for 5 minutes or in the microwave until warm. Top with vanilla or coffee ice cream. Drizzle with Kahlua, Kirsh, or Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur). Garnish with toasted hazelnuts and chocolate curls.


No comments: