Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Brownies with Cherries and Chiles

I have a cookbook problem.

There is an entire shelf of in my living room stacked with cookbooks. There's more than one that I haven't made a single thing from. I have single topic cookbooks. Take pie, for example. I have three completely devoted to it.  There is also a book solely about macaroons, and I hate to tell you this, but I have never had a macaroon, not once. I'm not even entirely confident about the standard ingredients. I looked through the book, I promise, but I think it may have been written in Engrish and some things definitely didn't quite translate.

You know what gets me about cookbooks? Its leafing through the pages and creating the scenarios where you get to share that meal. Its thinking, oh, that would be fun to bring to a potluck, or my book club.  Or, maybe for Poppa Fierce's birthday I'll try that caramelized pear pie. I like to think about the possibilities in the pages. Its a fun day dream.

Given that, I didn't mean to buy another cookbook today, I swear. It isn't like me to lie and say I totally ignored the cookbook section at the store and that the book literally fell out of the sky accompanied by a live piano performance singing songs of its deliciousness within. Just kidding, it is. If I thought you would believe me. I read each and every title on the shelf, my head cocked slightly sideways like your pup when he's confused.

The book stood out to me, not necessarily because of the brand but the title. Come on, who doesn't love chocolate? So I picked it up and leafed through-I figured it looked pretty good. I continued to browse, looking for bargain Le Creuset (preferably a mini coquette in the shape of a vegetable). I got the thing I had actually come for, and decided I didn't really need the cookbook. So I put it down. 

Then I heard a voice: You should probably just page through it one more time to see if anything jumps out at you, you know, its worth it if you get one good recipe! I obliged my inner shopaholic, and was feeling above the influence until I saw this recipe, the one here after the jump (you didn't think I was going to just let you see it, did you?). This recipe is my favorite chocolate bar in brownie form. I wasn't going to leave without it. 

I'm glad I didn't, because I earlier today I attempted chocolate marshmallows that were a complete failure. I've made them a few times before and never had trouble, but I hate having the day end on an unsuccessful note, so I went for the brownies. You'll be so glad I did. 

Ancho Chile Cherry Brownies
adapted from Green and Black's Chocolate Recipes
8 oz dark chocolate (they suggest 72% cocoa content, I used 4 oz 100% and 4 oz 70% because that is what I had) roughly chopped
1/2 cup butter, plus some for greasing pan
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar (recipe called for 1 2/3 cup, I find that a bit excessive and like my chocolate on the bitter side)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
3/4 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
2 small dried ancho chiles, roughly ground in a spice grinder or 1 1/2 teaspoons depending on heat of chiles (I used ancho chile powder, 1 1/4 teaspoons because I was afraid of them being too spicy)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (my own addition)

Set the oven to 350 and let preheat. Grease a 9" square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Put six ounces of the chocolate in a double boiler (or my method: a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water in the bottom. The steam heats the bowl and melts the chocolate, voila! Also, I have a really difficult time melting chocolate that isn't uniformly chopped in the microwave-I am really good at burning it). Add the butter and melt until smooth, stirring occasionally. Do not let the chocolate burn or get too hot; it will separate.

Using a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until doubled in volume and thick. Add the melted chocolate mixture and fold in. Gradually add the flour, folding well between each addition. Mix in the cherries, remaining 2 oz chopped chocolate, and ground anchos (worried it wouldn't evenly spread, I mixed the anchos with the flour and incorporated it during that step). Stir until evenly mixed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until the brownies pull away at the sides. Allow them to cool in the pan before cutting. If you can wait that long. 


  1. I live anything with cherries cherry juice and dried cherries. I will make it this weekend.

  2. It's delicious, Missy! J Fierce and I can eat dried cherries until we are blue in the face ... let us know how the recipe turns out.