Chocolate and cherries

I love playing with my food – that is, taking a recipe and messing with it and saying “hmm, what if…?” Having people over is a perfect excuse for experimentation, and most friends don’t mind being a guineapig.

We had a slightly retro Christmas as far as food went, and I was dying to make a proper black forest gateau, following Delia’s recipe from How To Cook. But too many people claimed not to like cream cakes, so I made a big vulgar trifle instead. It was amazing, though I say it myself.

But I couldn’t give up on the Black Forest completely, so when two friends came round for supper I decided to go for an unusual version I’d been building in my head – the Black Forest brownie.

This was the simple, last-minute version, involving a slab of normal chocolate brownie (using the Hummingbird Bakery Traditional Brownie recipe), a tin of black cherry pie filling, half a pint of double cream, and about 50g of dark chocolate. I dolloped the pie filling lumps on to the brownie, reserving some of the sludge. I whipped the cream to stiff peaks, then folded in the sludge, and carefully added this on top, before grating the chocolate over – I use a rotary grater for this kind of job, which incidentally is perfectly safe for the preschooler to use, when I feel inclined to let him join in.

Et voila! Not beautiful, not gourmet, but very rich and very tasty.

However, it did need tweaking, and was boozeless because of its audience. Here, therefore, is the recipe I would recommend if you feel tempted.

200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
175g unsalted butter or baking spread
325g caster sugar
130g plain flour
3 eggs
a tin of black cherry pie filling
or a punnet of frozen black fruits
300ml double cream
100g dark chocolate
1tbsp cherry liqueur or brandy

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.

Melt together the chocolate and butter using a bain marie or microwave.

Add the sugar and stir really well until incorporated, then add the flour and then stir really well.

Add the eggs and mix until thick and smooth, then pour the mixture into an 8″ round springform tin (preferably lined with silicon paper).

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until it starts to crack and flake on top. Leave to cool and set.

If you have chosen to use fresh or frozen fruit, soften in a pan with a spoonful of sugar, then leave to cool.

Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Melt the chocolate, then fold it into the cream with the booze.

Carefully spoon out on top of the brownie, still in the tin.

Next, spoon the fruit mixture over the top.

Chill and leave to set. Just before serving, release from its tin, and dust with icing sugar or grated chocolate.

It will look more like cheesecake, but taste nothing like. Try it with me!


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