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! )
Yum! Love the ganache on top. I wish I’d thought of going rogue with the alcohol – some people have used kirsch, which I have, and I went and bought port especially. However, these were so good, weren’t they.
You know what extra port means — moar brownies!!!!!! 🙂
Pump up the jam…pump it up…pump it up. This song is also completely appropriate for jam making.
I KNOW, RIGHT? So totally what I thought too1
I totally want to try making jam now.
You should! While singing the Pump Up the Jam song! And be sure to take photos and post to your blog, yes? Would be fun! 🙂
Your brownies look so yummy with the extra chocolate. One can never have too much chocolate. I´m humming this song now?
Yayyyy! I spreading earworms! *grin* It’s a catchy song. And yes, too much chocolate is not a thing. 🙂
Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)
The added chocolate on top? So decadent! I love the substitutions you made – Dorie is all about using what you have 🙂
What a wonderful post! These were delicious brownies for sure!
Thanks, Peggy! There were definitely deeeeelicious!
Oh, chocolate ganache sounds wonderful! They look so pretty! These were a hit with my family!
I love the ganache on top. I have some leftover in my fridge too, from an earlier recipe. Wish I would have thought of it for this, instead I’ll just eat it with a spoon.
Eating ganache with a spoon is some classy snacking! You’ve got gourmand taste buds! 🙂
Joyce, Kitchen Flavours
Oh wow, adding the ganache over the top sounds so chocolaty delicious! I would love to try it with cranberries the next time, as I love dried cranberries.
These brownies are good, weren’t they!
I know! The brownies ARE super-tasty! Even better the next day, I found.
Yum! I’ll bet these were divine with the added ganache!
I froze half, and there’s only two left of the other half after 24 hours. And the DH ate zero. So, yes, they were tasty. 🙂
What a funny post. I love it. And I am also queen of always changing up recipes. I don’t use alcohol, so I used pomegranate juice. Wish I would have used all juice and no water, wonder why Dorie has us use half and half. Oh well. Delicious brownies. (I made me some gluten free ones.) Love your ganache addition, absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Pomegranate juice must have been a great addition! I’m so curious now to read your post and see how you made it gluten-free. I love seeing how everyone makes the recipe their own!
First, I love your kitty salt and pepper shakers!! Second, I applaud you and your ganache. Your brownies look absolutely divine.
I have to admit, even though I read “Pump up the Jam” I was thinking of the song “Pump up the volume”…you know, the verse of “put the needle on the record.” Oh dear, I’m showing my age!
Well done, kid – again!
I proudly admit to being a cat person, and my salt and pepper shakers just confirm that. Oddly enough, that’s not the only set of cat-themed salt and pepper shakers I have. Hmm. THE CAT LADY LIVES! 🙂
I had to google Pump Up the Volume, I have to admit, even though it only came out a two years before Pump Up the Jam. I’m old enough to remember record players, the advent of the Walkman, and mix tapes. So if you’re showing your age, I’m right there with you!
They look so incredibly fudgy and chocolate-y….very nice with that crackly top. I keep my stash of leftover ganache in the freezer.
Thanks! And thanks for the tip — I’ll have to do that in the future!
The ganache sounds like you took the brownie to the next level!!
Thanks! They’re super tasty, I have to say!
And ganache! To die for!
Ganache can only make a good thing better!
looks good. I like your crinkly brownie tops splattered with ganache–yum!
In my mind there is never too much chocolate. Sadly my family disagrees. Loved all your changes in the recipe.
Sounds like you had a lot of fun making these. I love the ganache on top-looks great.
Thanks! They were a lot of fun to make. Also a lot of fun to eat! 🙂
Cathleen | My Culinary Mission
Looks fabulous with the ganache!
I also usually have leftover ganache in the refrigerator! And what a great idea to drizzle/smear it on top! I enjoyed reading about DH going to bed before the brownies were cool enough to cut—-that sort of thing occasionally happens in my house, too.
Leftover ganache is great, isn’t it? And the not-cool-enough-to-cut wasn’t deliberate…but I will say that I did enjoy the lion’s share of the brownies! 🙂
Wow! I would chose grocery shopping (and bag carrying) any day over cleaning toilets, but that’s mainly because I actually enjoy the grocery store. Interesting substitutions. I love adaptable recipes.