Cherry Almond Brownies

Cherry Almond Brownies
These don’t look like much, but they taste delicious.  Brownies are a dessert that typically have a minimal visual impact, but can have strong taste impact.  I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9 x 13 pan.  The recipe as written is still for the 8 inch square pan, though.  I took these to two place – some co-workers and a potluck – and they received raves at both.  These are fudgy brownies with sweet bursts of cherry and almond.

I don’t usually have King Arthur Flour on-hand, but their blog is a great source of inspiration.  I added some almond extract to up the almond flavor and also specifically used the Amaretto, although other liqueurs could be used.  I chopped the cherries by hand and these are larger pieces than what a food processor would chop.

Cherry Almond Brownies

adapted from from the King Arthur Flour recipe

1/2 cup [3 ounces] dried sweet cherries, chopped
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup [3 ounces] chopped unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup [4 ounces] butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup [2 ounces] diced almonds
1/2 cup [2 ounces] chopped candied red cherries
1/2 cup [3 ounces] Semisweet Chocolate Chips

1) Place dried chopped cherries in a microwave-safe container, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon liqueur, cover, and microwave for 45 seconds. Set aside to soften and cool.

2) Melt together the chocolate and butter over low heat, or in the microwave. Stir in the sugar and salt. Whisk well. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.

3) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ square pan or 9″ round pan.

4) Whisk the eggs, one at a time, into the chocolate mixture. Add the almond extract.  Stir in the flour and baking powder, then the soaked cherries, almonds, candied cherries, and chocolate chunks.

5) Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake the brownies for 25 to 30 minutes, until set. Remove from the oven, and cool before cutting.

Congo Bars or Chocolate Chip Cookies in Bar Form

Congo Bars
I have been making these for several years as one of my go-to recipes when I need to make something in advance that I want to last for a few days and can take a beating traveling somewhere.

This calls for a 10 x 15 pan and I don’t quite have one that size, since it is an odd shape.  I do have a roasting pan that is 11 x 15, so I used that.  It’s a little larger in size, so my bars are about 9% shorter than the recipe suggests.  A 9 x 13 pan would have bars about 22% taller.  I prefer thinner bars to thicker ones, personally.

I used the Tcho Roasted Cacao “Citrus” Nibs in the recipe.  I omitted the customary nuts in favor of nibs because of the extra chocolate flavor it adds, in addition to the texture.

This time, these really needed extra time to mellow out before they were tasty.  After 1 day, they were okay, they got better by day 2 and 3, but they took until day 4 or 5 to really come into their own and be crave-able.  I’m not sure what took so long this time.

Congo Bars

Adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz who notes this recipe came from Flo Braker

11 Tbl (about 1 1/3 sticks) [150 grams] unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 pound [450 grams] light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 3/4 cups [385 grams] all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups [280 grams] semisweet chocolate chips
110 grams roasted cacao nibs

1.  Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 F
2. Butter a 10 x 15 x 1 inch (25 x 38 x 2.5 cm) baking pan.
3. In a large bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar and eggs, making sure to break up any lumps of brown sugar
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, then stir in the chips and nibs.
6. Spread the batter into the pan as evenly as possible. (It will be sticky)
7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Remove from the oven. Let cool a few minutes, and then cut into 24 bars while still warm.

Although you will find it hard to resist eating all of these right away, Flo insists that the bars actually improve after a few days when stored at room temperature in an airtight container.