Monday, October 1, 2012

Boozie Blackforest Brownies

Every year for our Oktoberfest party, I make some kind of dessert. I never make up my mind about what I want to make until a few days before the party, so it's always the guaranteed surprise. (Beer, brats, obatzda, and homemade soft pretzels are always a given.) I have made blackforest inspired cupcakes a few times, German chocolate cupcakes, and faux apple strudel in the past. This year, I had a lot of personal family things I had to deal with during the two weeks leading up to the party and was feeling stressed, so we decided to scale back a bit. I decided brownies would be a quick and tasty dessert for this year. However, being me, could I just make regular brownies? Of COURSE not! Thus I give you: Boozie Blackforest Brownies.

These brownies turned out delicious. The addition of the extra liquid from the kirsch and the two methods of cherry inclusion made them super moist to the point of being a little "gooshy." Rather than feeling mushy in an unpleasant way (which I had feared), they ended up just feeling decadent. They transformed from a normal modified brownie into something completely unique.

While making the cream cheese frosting, I found I was having a hard time tasting the kirsch. I tried adding the smallest amount of almond extract (a capful, which is between 1/8-1/4 tsp) and suddenly the kirsch flavor popped out at me. A hint of almond extract has a magical property of really heightening certain flavors in desserts, especially cherry.

A few words about some of the igredients. Morello cherries are a dark red variety of sour cherry. If you don't have a TJs or are unable to find morellos, you should be able to substitute any preserved sour cherry in light syrup. Kirsch, or kirschwasser, is a clear brandy made from distilling whole morello cherries, including the pits. I personally taste more of the bitter-almond flavor from the pits than the fruit flavor. Kirsch itself is NOT sweet.

Boozie Blackforest Brownies

Recipe modified from Hershey's Best Brownies. Yield 32 brownies.

Brownie Ingredients:

  • 1 jar of Trader Joe's Morello Cherries (24.7 oz)
  • 1/2 c melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 Tbl kirsch
  • 2 c sugar + 2 Tbl
  • 2/3 c cocoa
  • 1 c all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13" pan.
  2. Reserving the liquid, drain the cherries. Separate 2/3-3/4 of the cherries, wrap in a paper towel to absorb excess moisture and put to the side.
  3. In a blender, puree 1/4-1/3 of the cherries together with the liquid.
  4. Bring the puree to a medium simmer in a small saucepot and stir in 2 Tbl sugar and 1 Tbl kirsch.
  5. Reduce the puree to 1/2-1/3 of its original volume.
  6. In a large bowl, mix the butter, oil, 2 cups sugar, extract and 4 Tbls kirsch until thoroughly combined. (medium-low speed if using an electric mixer)
  7. Add in the eggs and mix.
  8. In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  9. Slowly add the powdered ingredients to the first bowl in 1/4 or 1/3 batches, stirring after each addition.
  10. Take your reserved cherries and roughly chop them.
  11. Stir the chopped cherries in to the batter and pour into your pan and even out.
  12. Gently pour the thickened cherry puree over the top of the brownie batter, going back and forth in a zig zag pattern. If the puree has cooled, it may be too thick so just rewarm until it is of pouring consistency. Using your spoon, gently swirl the puree through the batter.
  13. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle (go through a non-cherry puree area) comes out mostly clean with only a little crumby brownie clinging to it.

Frosting Ingredients

  • 2 - 8 oz packages of Neufchatel (low-fat cream cheese)
  • 6 Tbl softened unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbl kirsch
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  1. Beat all ingredients together on medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Spread on top of cooled brownies.

Optional Topping

  • 16 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 Tbl unsalted butter
  1. Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe, nonplastic bowl.
  2. Heat the chips in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring thoroughly after each one.
  3. When the chips are almost completely melted, add in the butter for the final heating.
  4. Stir until thoroughly combined and all lumps are gone.
  5. Spread on top of the cream cheese frosting. Optional: sprinkle with slivered almonds
    Note: I find it easier to spread the chocolate if I have popped the brownies into the freezer for 10-20 minutes to stiffen the cream cheese.

To make a non-alcoholic version:
  • In the cherry puree, replace the kirsch with 1/4 tsp of almond extract.
  • Omit the kirsch from the brownie batter.
  • In the cream cheese frosting, replace the kirsch with 1/4 tsp each almond and raspberry extracts. (You can use 1/2 tsp of cherry extract if you can find it.)
PS - taken with my new Canon Rebel T3i! I'm going to have a looong learning process ahead of me on this!

1 comment:

  1. I wholeheartedly endorse these. The cream cheese frosting had great cherry flavor, amazing what a touch of almond extract did for it. Yum. Of course there's chocolate on top of it all; that's mein liebchen!