As most of you already know, every two weeks, my online bake-a-long group makes another recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Baking Chez Moi. And most of you also know that when I’m cooking, I tend to substitute ingredients like crazy, and the recipes almost always turn out. There’s a reason that I call myself the Queen of Substitutions!
This week’s BCM recipe is Chocolate Cherry Brownies, which sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Rich chocolate brownies, studded with Port-soaked dried cherries and dark chocolate chunks. Can’t you imagine biting into dense little squares for a post-prandial treat?
And this week’s post showcases not only the recipe, but also how I tend to deviate from recipes, based on what ingredients I have, and on how willing I am to take extra trips to shop around and carry groceries home. I really don’t like carrying groceries home. (When it comes to our chore list, I will happily scrub bathrooms, if it means that the DH will do the majority of the shopping and in particular, the majority of carrying the groceries home. Scrubbing toilets > carrying home heavy bags of groceries. Or so says I.)
FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS. MOSTLY.
So. Dorie says to soak the dried cherries in a nice Port wine, although she also says that you can use cranberries instead of cherries, and a fruity wine instead of the Port. I realllllly wanted to use dried cherries — I just love the idea of cherries and chocolate! But that would have entailed a trip to the local Bulk Barn, and I just didn’t feel like an extra half hour’s walk in the rain after work today. So I pulled out the dried cranberries that I keep in my kitchen (usually used in salads).
And I didn’t want to buy a bottle of port just for two tablespoons of wine, so I looked through my collection of cooking wines, and found a bottle of strawberry wine that my sister had given me years ago, and that I had only opened recently. Cooking wine = baking wine, right? If not…close enough.
After reading the comments from the other bakers, I thought I would increase the volume of the wine, as it seems not to flavour the brownies much otherwise. So I replaced the water in the recipe with more wine. I’m not really a Rah-Rah Wine! sort of person, but I thought it might pump up the flavour a bit. (And suddenly I’m humming “Pump Up the Jam“. Am imagining myself twirling about the kitchen alternately shaking my booty, as per the song’s directions, and singing into my wooden spoon microphone. “Pump, pump it* up….” *’It’ being the flavour profile, yo.)
THE (TAME) SUBSTITUTIONS
I only keep salted butter in the house, so I did the very commonplace substitution of using salted butter and then ignoring the salt called for in the recipe.
Interestingly, the recipe called for black pepper, which upon reflection, makes sense. Black pepper kind of calls out the chocolate notes a bit more, sort of like coffee does. I wonder why. Any food chemists out there care to enlighten me?
As for chocolate, well, I didn’t have the chocolate chunks the recipe called for, so I used the semi-sweet chocolate chips that I buy in 2 kg bags from Costco. (If I could find a store that carried inexpensive chocolate chips in even bigger bags, I’d so buy those, but for now, my 2 kg bags will have to do.)
I baked the brownies for 15 minutes longer than directed, which is unusual for me. Usually I like my brownies all chewy and dense, but I wanted to make sure that these weren’t gooey and under-cooked. And also, the other bakers talked a lot about how much longer they needed to bake their batches, so I listened and learned.
GOING ROGUE. WITH GANACHE.
I was making dinner for the DH and I today, and I realized that I still had some ganache in the fridge, leftover from my Buttercream and Ganache-Topped Red Wine and Chocolate Cupcakes. Apparently I am the sort of person who routinely has leftover ganache in her fridge. Huh. Wonder what that says about me. Or perhaps about my penchant for chocolate. Hmm.
I decided to drizzle the ganache over the cooling brownies. I may have actually splattered the ganache over the brownies as opposed to drizzling it, but semantics aside, I think it was a good idea. Because…
NOM. NOM. NOM.
That’s what she said. Ba-da-bing! (The youth culture lingo — I have it! Perhaps not used entirely correctly, but still, I have it!)
Or is it? Because my evening plans include curling up on the sofa with lots of pillows, a good book, and a plate of these brownies. Mmm…!
I was finishing up this post, and I starting playing “Pump Up the Jam” on my laptop and danced my way into the DH’s man-cave, doing poor renditions of 90’s dance moves (the Running Man, anyone?). The DH laughed at me and followed me out to the kitchen where he is currently trying to get me to cut up the brownies. But they’re not properly cooled. [Edit: He’s gone to bed now. The brownies are also properly cooled now, so I shall try them. Coincidence? Only the DH knows for sure.] So time for some more dancing! Sing it with me: “Pump, pump it up….” Everybody dance now! Break it down.
Next Post: Down-homey Nutella Rice Krispie Squares! Or upscale Vanilla Pannacotta with Strawberry Coulis. (Either or. My sweet tooth isn’t a food snob! )