Port Soaked Dried Cherry Brownies with Optional Port-Chocolate Ganache
Pairs Well With
For the Brownies:
8 oz unsalted butter
2/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
½ t pure vanilla extract
¾ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
½ t baking powder
½ t table salt
Port Soaked Dried Cherries
½ cup dried cherries, very coarsely chopped; 1/3 cup Pedroncelli Port
In a small saucepan, bring the cherries and port to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook for two minutes. Take pan off the heat and let cool to room temperature. Then add to recipe if using.
Port-Ganache Topping (optional) Better known as gilding the lily. (recipe below)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch-square metal baking pan, tapping out excess flour. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and set aside.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk or stir in the sugar, followed by all four of the eggs and the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and slowly incorporate the ingredients, stirring more vigorously as you go. Stir until the batter is smooth and uniform, about 1 minute. If you’re using the port-soaked cherries, stir them in at this time along with any liquid from the saucepan.
Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing it so it fills the pan evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted ¾ inch into the center comes out with a few moist clumps clinging to it, about 40 minutes. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack.
If you’re topping the brownies with the ganache, spread it evenly over the cooled brownies and give the ganache about an hour to set (it will still be quite soft and gooey). Cut into 16 squares. Keep the brownies at room temperature, well wrapped. You can freeze them too.
½ cup Pedroncelli Port
½ cup heavy cream
6 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (about one cup)
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the port to a boil. Boil until the port is reduced to 2 tablespoons, 3-6 minutes. Pour it into a small cup or bowl. Thoroughly rinse the pan. Bring the heavy cream to a boil in the pan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Take the pan off the heat. Stir in the chopped chocolate and reduced port until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is melted.
Pour the ganache into a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Put the bowl in a cool part of the kitchen and let the ganache cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. When it’s cool, spread it over the brownies as directed in the brownie recipe.