I won’t cook fresh cherries, I just can’t … There is something very special to me about fresh cherries that I can’t bring myself to do anything to them except pop them in my mouth and enjoy their sweetness right off the stem. I love the way the crisp skin of the cherry bursts under the pressure of my teeth releasing all of the cherry juice into my mouth. I can’t seem to stop after one or two and I always end up eating the entire bag – stems and pits in a pile next to me. Every cherry feels like a tiny little gift of summer wrapped up in a glossy red package and I cannot resist opening them all. I remember being 6 years old and climbing up the ladder into my aunt’s backyard cherry tree. Beyond the last wrung of the ladder and into the highest branches I would make my way to a cool spot under the tent of thick branches and dense leaves. High in the sky, away from all of the grown ups,and shaded from the hot summer sun, there I would sit for hours. No matter how many I ate, there were thousands more dangling like sparkling Christmas tree ornaments. Perched like a little bird in my secret spot, I would quietly filling my stomach with as many cherries as I could reach until my mom called me down out of the tree. I suppose it is this memory that keeps me from baking with fresh cherries.
Chocolate and cherries together make my heart skip a beat, so when I decided to actually bake brownies with cherries, I used dried. I soaked these cherries overnight in some port wine and coffee and the next day they were plump garnet colored jewels filled with flavor that begged to be paired with chocolate. Coffee-port-chocolate-and-cherries, can you taste it? These are very decadent and fudgy, be sure to serve them with some ice cream or a strong cup of coffee ~ enjoy.
|Dark Chocolate Brownies with Toasted Pecans and Port Soaked Cherries||
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1 cup port wine
- ½ cup strong brewed coffee
- 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 8 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup lightly packed golden brown sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 Cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup of toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- In a small bowl combine the cherries, port wine, and coffee. Allow the cherries to macerate in the wine for at least 30 minutes or even better overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set the oven rack to the middle.
- Line an 8x8x2 inch pan with foil or parchment paper. All the foil or parchment to have a 2 inch overhang on each side so that the brownies can easily be removed – spray with cooking spray or lightly butter and then set aside.
- Place a medium metal or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water and melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring to combine. Once the chocolate is melted, set aside or into the refrigerator to cool.
- In another large bowl whisk to combine the sugars,eggs, vanilla and salt. Slowly whisk in the cooled melted chocolate and butter until completely combined.
- Using a spatula, fold the flour In thirds into the wet ingredients until just combined.
- Gently squeeze out the port wine from the cherries and then add ½ of the cherries and ½ of the pecans to the brownies (reserving the other half for the top). Fold them in until just combine and then spread the brownie mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
- Sprinkle with remaining cherries and pecans, with the back of the spatula, gently press the cherries and pecans into the top of the brownies.
- Place into the oven to bake for 40-45 minutes. The brownies are done when a toothpick into the center comes out wet and chocolaty but not gooey and raw. The edges will also begin to crack. Brownies are better when they are not overcooked.