Lovely as they sound - and taste - these brownies are also now known as "the brownies that hate me" and I'm forced to write the following:
Dear French Chocolate Brownies,
What did I do to you? Was it the fact that from the onset I adamantly refused to give rum raisins a chance? I know that you are quite likely more than happy not being fiddled with, and that my constant adjustments are probably quite annoying, but, my apologies to the Raisin Council, I don't like raisins. Ever. At all.
Yes, yes, I understand I could have substituted something else. I don't enjoy dried fruit in my baked goods and if I am going to make a recipe and commit ingredients, I want to want to eat them.
I know that you were probably quite disappointed with the loss of the opportunity to get all rummy and fired up. I'm sad to miss that opportunity as well, but it just couldn't be helped.
Though your end results were very delicious, the stigma of trying to make you and running into
personal failures two times in a row is for me a bit too difficult at this time to continue our relationship. I am sad to say, that until I get up the courage, I will not be coming back to you.
It's not you. It's me.
You see, the first time I made these brownies, I wanted to make them in individual muffin cups and save them for picnics and lunches and such. Great idea, right? Well, not with this recipe. As reported by many others, this recipe puffed. A lot. That was fine, but the center ended up being a good inch or two lower than the sides. They were still delicious though, but the texture just wasn't my favorite for a brownie. They were good in their own right, just not what I hoped for.
The second time around I decided to try again to see if I got a different result by making the batch in one square pan, as originally written, minus the raisins. Again, the batter was nice and thick and tasted wonderful. Again, they puffed up nicely, but then they got really high on the sides and really sunk in the middle.
So, why don't you see any pictures of attempt number two. Well, I intended to take a picture, but everyone ate (and loved) them while I was off feeding the baby. I will say that the fact that these were still devoured quite quickly is definitely a testament to the deliciousness of the recipe itself. Especially since the brownies had been wrapped in a towel for transport and subsequently stepped on by Aidan. He may only be four years old, but he has big feet - so, he pretty much flattened and destroyed the entire pan - which again, since they were covered, everyone still ate even though I told them what happened.
Great brownies then? Yes. Do I have some severe malfunction or curse when trying to make this recipe? Apparently so. I am not leaving this recipe due to its lack of goodness - just because I'm afraid if I make it again I will burn down the kitchen or something. Maybe, one day, when I'm not so nervous about it, I'll give it another go. I realize that there is really nothing to be afraid of in this recipe but, for some reason, I just can't seem to get it right. Make sure to check out how all the other TWDer's faired with this recipe!
So, I drowned my sorrows in this Cherry Gelato recipe from the new issue of Gourmet instead. I needed a confidence boost after my brownie fiascos. This was supposed to be all cute and pretty with brownies cut from the second pan, but, well, you already know what happened to those. This gelato was easy to make and tasted extremely awesome. Use really good almond extract because the flavor really does shine through under the cherry flavor. Enjoy!
- makes 16 brownies -
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.
Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.
Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.
The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!
Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
(Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, June 2008)
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup turbinado sugar such as Sugar in the Raw
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 lb bing cherries (1 1/2 cups; do not substitute frozen), pitted
2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
1 tsp pure almond extract
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
an ice cream maker
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean with tip of a paring knife into a small heavy saucepan. Add milk and a pinch of salt and bring just to a boil, then remove from heat.
Meanwhile, whisk together sugar and cornstarch, then add 1/2 cup hot milk, whisking until smooth. Whisk into milk in saucepan. Bring to a simmer, whisking, then simmer, whisking, 3 minutes (mixture will be thick). Immediately pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl set in an ice bath. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Remove from ice bath and chill, covered, 1 hour.
Pulse cherries, sugar, and extracts in a food processor until finely chopped, then chill, covered, 1 hour.
Make ice cream:
Stir cherries with their juices into gelato mixture and freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours.