Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chocolate and Cherries

I am enamored by our cherry trees this year and while I am sure there are pies and cobblers to come, throughout the winter.  This weekend I am loving the classic combination of cherries and chocolate.  Desserts have not been common in our house for awhile, so my dear husband is not complaining!

For Friday night's dinner we enjoyed Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and Cherry Granita.  If someone is really aware of tart items, this Granita may be too much for them, but I loved the combination of frozen tart cherry and chocolate.  This bowl and bad lighting makes the ice look slightly orange, but it was a bright red color.

Cherry Granita
I got this recipe from the Martha Stewart website.  She has a good collection of sour cherry recipes.  This is what I would call a Cherry Ice.  It is very simple and flavorful with only three ingredients!
from Martha Steward Living June 1998


2 pounds fresh or frozen sour cherries, thawed and pitted
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar

  1. Set a colander over a bowl, and drain cherries, reserving all the liquid.
  2. Place cherries in a food processor or in a blender, and puree. Pass the puree through a fine sieve, set over a medium bowl. Using the back of a spoon, press cherries to extract the juice. If any solids remain in juice, pass juice through the sieve again. Discard pulp left in the sieve.
  3. Add reserved liquid from step one and vinegar to the strained juice.
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar with 2/3 cup water; cook over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, and let stand until cool.
  5. Add cooled syrup to juice mixture, and stir until combined. Pour this new mixture into a shallow metal pan large enough to hold the liquid; place in freezer until ice crystals begin to form around edges, about 1 hour. Using a fork, stir the ice crystals into the center; return to the freezer. Stir ice crystals once an hour until all the liquid has frozen and has a grainy consistency, about 5 hours. Serve, or store in the freezer, covered, up to 2 days.

I got this in the freezer and promptly forgot about it.  I'm sure the texture would be lovely if you remembered to stir it every hour as directed.  But even a bit clumpy it was still yummy! 
Hmmmm, Cherry Slushy anyone?  How hot is it supposed to get this afternoon?  This would be very refreshing put in a glass with a shot of your favorite liqueur, I'm thinking bourbon, and topped off with some white soda or perhaps a Lime LeCroix.  If you do not drink alcohol, that's ok!  This could be equally as refreshing with just the soda or sparkling water!
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
from Whole Grain Baking by King Arthur Flour
5 1/2 (2 3/4 ounces) tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) brewed coffee, cooled
1 3/4 (6 1/8 ounces) cup whole spelt flour (I didn't have spelt so used white wheat flour)
1/3 cup (1 ounce) dutch processed cocoa
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) confectioners' sugar for coating
  1. Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.  Beat in the egg and coffee, scraping the bowl, then stir in the flour, cocoa, and chips.  Refrigerate the dough, covered, overnight. 
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.  Place the confectioners sugar in a large plastic bag.
  3. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls into the sugar int eh bag, about 6 pieces at a time.  Twist the bag closed, trapping air inside and gently shake, coating the balls with sugar.  Place them on the prepared sheets.  Repeat with remaining dough. 
  4. Bake the cookies, reversing the pans midway through until they're set around the edges but still soft in the middle, about 11 minutes.  Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool completely on the pan, loosening (but not lifting ) them after about 10 minutes.
Recipe Notes:  Do not be afraid to substitute.  I didn't want to go to the store, but didn't have a whole bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  So, I emptied a variety of bags of chocolate to get my two cups. I had a mixture of semisweet, dark, and milk chocolate.  Not surprisingly, the cookies are amazing and nobody said, "What's with the different kinds of chocolate?".

A short digression into sugar.  As you already know, I do try to only eat sugar in small amounts and when I say sugar I mean all types of sugar.  But I mostly avoid refined white and brown sugar and all fake sugars.  For all these recipes I used the below Rapunzel brand of organic, unrefined, and unbleached sugar.  I find that I can use this sugar in almost any type of baking, including ice cream.  It's got a flavor kind of like molasses, so I wouldn't use it with a delicate white or vanilla flavored product.  Another hint.  I have a coffee grinder that I use only with this sugar and I always grind it to a powder before putting it in the recipes.  That seems to help it easily dissolve throughout whatever I'm making.  Is it really better for you?  I have no idea, I just know I feel better using it.

Saturday night we headed to a BBQ with friends and  came bearing a wonderful platter of very rich Chocolate Cherry Brownies!  Make no mistake, these brownies are not for the weak, they are very rich, and perfectly fudgy.

Chocolate and Cherry Brownies.

These can be found in many forms on the web.  I happened to find them at the site of Homestead Farm.  A Maryland farm that has many good recipes posted.  This recipe is originally from "Green and Black’s Chocolate Recipes: Unwrapped - From the Cacao Pod to Muffins, Mousses and Moles" paperback by Caroline Jeremy.
1 1/3 cups - unsalted butter

10.5 ounces - dark chocolate (minimum 60%,broken into pieces)
5 - large eggs
1 3/4 cups - granulated sugar (I used the organic unrefined sugar discussed above)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups - plain flour ( I used white wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3.5 ounces of drained tart cherries (I used about 8 ounces!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9” x 11” baking pan.
  2. In a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate together until thick and creamy.
  3. Meanwhile beat together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until thick and creamy. The mixture should easily coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Once the butter-chocolate mixture has melted, remove from stove and beat into the egg mixture
  5. Sift the flour and salt together, and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until mixture is well combined.
  6. Drain tart and pitted cherries and fold into the brownie mixture.
  7. Pour mixture into the baking pan and bake for 20 - 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Once finished baking, allow to cool and cut into pieces.

Yes, I did use a double boiler!  I forget how smooth that makes the chocolate.  Hungry for sweet chocolate and tart cherries yet?


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