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TWD: French Chocolate Brownies

For me, one of the simple pleasures in life is sitting down with a warm, fudgy brownie and an ice cold glass of milk. It just doesn’t get much better than that! So, when I learned that this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was for French Chocolate Brownies, I was psyched. You can never have too many brownie recipes in your baking arsenal. My thanks go out to Di from Di’s Kitchen Notebook [1] for selecting this recipe.
These are not your regular run of the mill brownies either. They contain some ingredients that are not typical of the average brownie, namely, cinnamon, raisins and rum. The cinnamon I could handle, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of raisins and rum in a brownie. I needed to make some substitutions. What I ended up using instead were dried sweet cherries and creme de cassis [2]. Creme de cassis is a black currant liqueur. It is fragrant and fruity and very delicious! I had actually wanted to use a cherry brandy or liqueur, but I didn’t have either.

I was very pleased with the end result. The brownies were incredibly moist, dense and and chocolaty. The cherries were the perfect counterpoint to that. While I would have never thought to put dried fruit in a brownie, this combination worked really well together.

Would I make these brownies again? Maybe. It’s not my favorite brownie recipe, but it is a very good one.

If you’d like to see some other creative takes on this recipe, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie [3]blogroll.

French Chocolate Brownies
(Printable Recipe) [4]

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar


Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you’re using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It’s important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you’ve got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it’s better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you’ll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated and that’s fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they’re even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
Makes 16 brownies