Whether you have a certain someone worth baking for this Valentine’s Day, or want to be your own best Valentine, Cupid’s holiday is a perfect excuse to overindulge in chocolate. Besides raspberry, cherry has always been my favorite chocolate pairing, and even though cherries aren’t in season at the moment, that doesn’t mean you can’t find some amazing black cherry preserves.
I set off to make my own brownies from scratch and it seems that if you like fudge brownies, the internet is in love with King Arthur Flour’s version of brownies. In the recipe I’ve posted below, I’ve taken KAF’s as a base and played with it a little, incorporating some almond flavoring and some cherries, because, well, why the hell not? Be warned: these brownies are super rich and dense. If you’re looking for softer, more standard brownies, go for the boxed kind-you can still layer the preserves and ganache.
And if I’m going to go the extra step with the flavors and layers, might as well whip out the heart-shaped cookie cutter and really do it up for V-Day. I promise I won’t serve these on a bed of rose petals while watching The Notebook and lighting candles…but I make no promises about indulging in pink champagne 😉
Happy Heart Day everyone!
- 9 x 13-in. pan
- Parchment paper
- Heart cutter (optional)
- Sharp knife
- Spatula and whisk
- Food processor (optional)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups dutch process cocoa (dutch process means it has been treated with an alkalizing agent to give it a less bitter taste than ‘natural cocoa.’ I couldn’t find simple dutch process, so I used hot cocoa mix, which has alkaline in it)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. instant espresso coffee powder
- 1/4 tsp. almond extract
- 1/2 Tbl. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 jar cherry preserves
- 1 jar preserved black cherries, drained and juice reserved
- 8 oz. heavy cream
- 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 container strawberries (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the 9 x 13. Line with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, set the butter over low heat and melt completely. Add the sugar and stir, just until the mixture is hot but not bubbling (it will become shiny as you stir it; heating the mix to this point will dissolve more of the sugar and help heat the chocolate called for later in the recipe to give that truffle consistency to the brownie).
While the sugar heats, crack the 4 eggs into a large bowl and whisk with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, almond extract, and vanilla until smooth. Add the hot butter/sugar mix and stir until smooth. Add the chocolate chips and stir, letting them melt completely. Add the flour and stir until smooth.
Put the batter into the greased pan and bake roughly 30-45 min. until toothpick comes out only slightly wet and crumbly. Remove from oven and cool slightly-5 min.
While the brownies are baking, smooth out the preserves by either whisking the preserves in a bowl or pulsing it in a food processor. Once the brownies have cooled 5 min, spread the preserves on top of the brownies. Let cool completely.
Place the 8 oz. chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Heat the 8 oz. cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat to just boiling and pour into the bowl on top of the chocolate. Using a spatula, incorporate the cream with the chocolate. Add 3 Tbl. of the reserved cherry juice to the ganache and stir. Spread on top of preserves and let set for about 10 min. Place in the fridge to harden completely (4 hours or overnight).
When you take the brownies out of the fridge they will be hard as rocks, simply because the chocolate has hardened. Leave out for about 2 hours, then cut out heart shapes with a cutter (or any other shape you might like)-a knife to complete the cut may be necessary. Top with little decorations (here, I used strawberries shaped like hearts…originally tried with black cherries but they weren’t as visually appealing).