LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I spotted this recipe on the wonderful mystery maven Janet Rudolph’s blog, Dying for Chocolate, and added it to my Valentine’s Day dinner menu. Oh, who am I kidding? I started the menu with these brownies, and worked backwards, adding bacon-wrapped filets, at my hunny’s request, Krista Davis’s fabulous baked risotto, and a green salad, so we could pretend to healthy eating. And a marvelous bottle of red wine a friend gave us.
They are love. I played with the recipe a bit, as I am wont to do, so this is my variation. Many cooks melt chocolate in a double boiler, but I find that if you are careful and use low heat, you can safely melt chocolate on the stove top, especially when melting butter and chocolate together. When you remove your melting pot from the heat, you can mix the brownies right in the pot, for one less dish to wash.
I did cut a couple of hearts, for fun, but cut the rest into squares. If you cut it all into hearts, you’ll have leftover bits. Your sweethearts will not complain.
Cherry Port Brownies
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup dried cherries (sweet cherries, like Bings, not tart pie cherries), chopped
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, cold
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line 8X8 inch glass or metal pan with foil. Butter foil; set aside. (Those single sheets of foil fit an 8X8 pan perfectly.
In a small saucepan, boil the port and water. Add the chopped dried cherries; cook and stir over low heat until fruit is soft and plump and liquid evaporates. Set aside to cool.
Place the butter and 6 ounces of chocolate in a 2-3 quart saucepan, and melt over low heat, stirring carefully, until chocolate is almost melted. Remove pan from heat. Stir in the sugar until fully mixed.
Add eggs one at a time, stirring until batter is smooth and glossy. Add salt and flour, and stir until they disappear into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the cherries and any remaining liquid, and the 4 1/2 oz. chopped chocolate.
Scrape batter into prepared pan with a spatula, pushing it into the corners and smoothing the top. Bake 35 minutes, or until a toothpick or oven tester comes out clean.
Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to room temperature.
Invert brownies onto cutting board; gently peel away foil. Turn the brownie over. Cut into squares or hearts, using a 3" heart shaped cookie cutter.
Serve with ice cream or crême anglaise. (That's Tillamook's Salted Caramel and Oregon Hazelnut Ice Cream in the picture. Hey, if you're going to eat ice cream, do it right.)
From the cover of GUILTY AS CINNAMON:
Murder heats up Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the next Spice Shop mystery from the national bestselling author of Assault and Pepper.
Pepper Reece knows that fiery flavors are the spice of life. But when a customer dies of a chili overdose, she finds herself in hot pursuit of a murderer…
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.
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