black forest brownies
Wed, 10 February, 2021
Nigella’s black forest brownie is better than gorgeous, and if you think the world doesn’t need another brownie recipe, think again!
Did I mention I’m not HUGE on chocolate? I might have, once or twice. Nor am I terribly enamoured of chocolate cakes: I’ll have a slice when given, or to test my own but in my house it’s The Weather Man who is the chocolate fiend (haha).
Our weekly cake-baking ritual usually consists of testing new cakes but every now and then we bake from the archives. If I want to limit my intake – which, frankly, should always be the case – I decide on something chocolatey knowing that I’ll not be very tempted.
This time it was testing AND chocolate – how fortunate, I thought. I’ll only sample it, for the research purposes, and the rest can be devoured by other people. I was, as you will have guessed, very wrong there.
This brownie is divine. The combination of chocolate and cherries is a classic, but the rosemary takes it to another dimension. I omitted the hazelnuts from Nigella’s original recipe. Having made it first with, then without I decided to have the unadulterated black forest experience and no nuts.
How is it made?
As usual with Nigella’s recipes, it’s very easy. The batter starts its life as a melting pot of butter and chocolate and everything else is gradually added or whisked into it, after a short cool-down. I cut down on sugar a little – Nigella’s recipe has 225g caster sugar – because I always do these days, but not too much because it’s a brownie after all.
About the rosemary
I knew before that rosemary has a special affinity with fruit and sweets. I make my blueberry sauce for pork with rosemary, though you might argue it’s a savoury dish all in all.
But I also add a sprig of rosemary to strawberry, blueberry and cherry jams because it absolutely wonderfully enhances the fruit flavour and mitigates the jammy sickliness somewhat.
From now on though I’ll add it to all things chocolate.
About the cherries
I soaked my cherries in orange juice. The obvious alternative is kirsch but I think Cointreau would be great to use as well, and it makes the kitchen smell beautiful.
Either way, soaking is an absolutely necessary step and must not be skipped. Otherwise you’ll be chewing on dry bits of fruit amidst the gorgeous fudgy cake.
About the cream
As I already confessed, I had much more than my sample of the brownie. And – that’s an even deeper confession – I had it with a little cream first and then with a dot of crème fraiche.
And however far I am from promoting gluttony (the brownies are exceedingly rich on their own), the tang of crème fraiche on fudgy rich chocolate is breathtakingly blissful.
black forest browniesServings: 16Time: 50 minutes
- 150g (1 cup) dried cherries
- 75ml (5 tbsp.) orange juice or kirsch
- 200g (1 stick plus 6 tbsp.) unsalted butter
- 200g dark cooking chocolate
- 100g dark muscovado sugar
- 180g caster sugar
- 25g (3½ tbsp.) cocoa powder
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- 150g (1 heaping cup) plain flour
- a pinch of salt
- icing sugar, for dusting
1. Place the cherries in a small saucepan, add the orange juice or kirsch and bring to the boil. Simmer for a minute, stir to coat the cherries in the liquid and leave to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C (no fan if available)/350F/gas 4. Line a square brownie tin (23 x 23cm) with parchment.
3. Melt the butter over low heat in a large saucepan. Chop the chocolate roughly. When the butter’s melted, add the chocolate and keep over low heat until it melts too. Stir, add the sugars and cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Set aside to cool so it’s only just warm to touch.
4. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly.
5. Strip the needles off the rosemary sprig and chop very finely, almost into powder (you can actually grind them in a spice or coffee grinder but it will work with a larger quantity than one sprig so reserve the rest of the rosemary powder for other dishes).
6. When the chocolate mix has cooled, gradually whisk in the eggs. Add the flour, salt and rosemary and whisk to incorporate the flour. Fold in the steeped cherries.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and transfer to the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top surface is shiny, lightly cracked and the brownie slightly pulls away from the sides. Inserted skewer should show only a few crumbs sticking to it.
8. Cool the brownie in the tin. Dust with icing sugar, cut into squares and serve.