This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook: French Chocolate Brownies. When Dorie made these, she was playing on the idea of the French chocolate "fondant," a cake known for its chocolatiness and its soft, moist texture. What she didn't expect, however, was for all of her guests to proclaim them as brownies! Whether you decide to call this a cake or a brownie, I think you will enjoy it.
Several TWD bakers decided to omit the raisins in this recipe, due to their dislike of them. I have no problem with raisins and enjoy them quite a bit, but decided that it would be fun to try dried cherries instead (who doesn't like cherries and chocolate?). Some bakers mentioned that they had trouble igniting their rum for the flambé. I didn't have that issue at all, but it was quite a contrast to the first time I flambéed, when I made the brioche raisin snails. Last time, I had plenty of time to oooh and aaah at the flames... so much so that I was able to think to myself 'that would make a really cool picture,' and still have time to grab my camera to capture a few photos. I had no such luck this time. I was even prepared with camera in hand before I lit the match, but the flames died down way too quickly for me to capture anything.
Overall, I was very pleased with this recipe. The brownies were nothing like what I had anticipated them to be, but that doesn't mean they were not good. They have enough chocolate in them to satisfy any chocolate craving, the cherries are a pleasant surprise when you bite into them, and I was delighted at how light and moist they are. Most brownies are fairly dense, and these seemed to almost melt in my mouth. Thanks Di, for picking a great recipe. Make sure you check out the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll to see everyone else's chocolatey treats.
French Chocolate Brownies
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt (I omitted this)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden (I used dried tart Montmorency cherries)
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used semi-sweet)
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces (I used salted butter and omitted the salt from the recipe)
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan (I used a 9-inch square pan) with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon.
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.
Mix 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 (Although I used a larger pan, I still had to bake mine for the full 60 minutes before my knife would come 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.
Serving: 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!
Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
Yield: 16 brownies