It is this time of year again, cherries are widely available. And although we have a cherry tree in our garden, they are not quite ripe yet. But on the weekend we not only visited a wonderful "wool market" and watched weavers, sheepshearer, broom makers, pottery makers, and farmers show off their traditional trades but we also bought a lot of fresh regional produce, including sweet, dark cherries. So I decided to make the most of my loot and bake one of my favorite recipes. You can't beat classic and indulgent Dark and white chocolate cherry brownies. Before getting strated baking, sort your cherries and make sure to look for those that are plump, firm, glossy and free of blemishes and their stems should be fresh and green. Cherries benefit most from being stored at cooler temperatures as warmth can compromise not only their flavor but also their texture, so keep them in the fridge in the crisper.
These brownies contain white as well as dark chocolate. White chocolate is technically not real chocolate as it doesn't contain any cocoa solids, but it is made primarily of cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. White chocolate must contain at least 14% milk solids and high quality brands of white chocolate are made with a high proportion of cocoa butter and real vanilla. White chocolate retains a popularity all of its own as a vanilla-scented indulgence or as a decorative contrast to dark chocolates.
Dark chocolate should contain a minimum of 35% cocoa solids, at least 18% of which should be cocoa butter. However, the cocoa content can be, and often is, much higher than this, and can reach up to 80% and even 90%. High-quality dark chocolate has a more bitter taste than chocolate confectionery. It can be eaten as a snack or incorporated into rich cakes, sauces or desserts like these incredible brownies.
Dark and white chocolate cherry brownies
(recipe inspired by James Martin: Home Comforts)
- 350g/12oz high quality dark chocolate (minimum 55% cocoa solids - use the best dark chocolate you can afford)
- 250g/9oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the brownie pan
- 3 eggs (L), free-range or organic
- 250g/9oz dark soft brown sugar
- 110g/4oz plain (AP) flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of fine sea salt
- 150g/5½oz fresh cherries, cut in half, stones removed
- 150g/5½oz white chocolate, roughly chopped (again, use use the best brand white chocolate you can afford)
- 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder, for dusting (unsweetened, of course)
- Preheat your oven to 170° C (340° F).
- Grease a 30x23cm (12x9in) baking pan with butter then line the base and sides with baking paper.
- Heat the dark chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a low heat until just melted and well combined, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly (at least 5 minutes).
- Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar in a large bowl until thick, pale and creamy.
- Whisk the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, then gently fold in the flour, baking powder, salt and half the cherries until just combined.
- Spoon the brownie mixture into the prepared tin, then scatter over the white chocolate and the remaining cherries.
- Bake the brownies in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the surface is cracked and a skewer inserted into the centre of the brownies comes out with just a little mixture sticking to it.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely in the pan, on a wire rack.
- To serve, dust the brownies with cocoa powder, then cut into squares and remove from the pan.
If fresh cherries are unavailable, you can use frozen cherries instead. Defrost them first, drain and mix in as directed. They are likely to be wetter than fresh cherries, so you may need to cook your brownies for a few minutes longer. You could also use raspberries instead but it remains a fact that chococlate and cherries go fantastically together.
These decadent brownies must be the ultimate grub on the go. They are chewy but cooked. They are gooey in the center, have a soft texture and a crackly top. Just perfect.
These brownies do get better the longer you leave them - so after a day or two they get even better. Forget cookies for a while, this is a treat that can also travel anywhere. Think office, bake sale, birthday surprise....Packed with loads of rich chocolate and moist fresh sweet cherries, it is always advisable to grab one of these brownies before you share them because they will not last. Trust me on this one.