Part of a collection of recipes I’m calling My Purple Passion
Right back at the beginning of the pandemic, I, on purpose, installed myself on an almost permanent basis in the kitchen. Of course there was the day to day business of cooking enough food to keep up well fed and happy, including snacks, but there was also a backlog of recipes that I was long overdue to test…some for this blog, some for another project I’m working on. I cracked on, cooking dish and dish and generally procrastinating about work and study. Back then I definitely didn’t think I should be reserving my energies and enthusiasm for as long a haul as it has been, and is still yet to come. I guess I just thought I should get through The Backlog as soon as possible before everything returns back to normal. Well, folks, lets just say this: don’t rely on me to predict the future of anything. I’m clearly useless! Anyways, after my fit of cookery began to equalise out to something much more sensible, one evening, scrolling through the seemingly unending collection of photographs of the food cooked over the past 12 weeks, and I noticed a bit of a trend – towards purple food. Purple like: red onions which I am currently addicted to roasting in the wood fire; red cabbage in so many different variations of chopped slaw salads, beetroot and, my favourite fruit of all, cherries.
So this blog post kicks off my homage to these purple foods that have kept me company. Three recipes in total: this ridiculously delicous recipe for a Cherry Chocolate Brownie that is definitely only for adults, a delicious starter of Beetroot, Goat Salami and Goats Curd with Fennel and Chili Salt, and finally my indulgent Cherry Amore cocktail. I hope you enjoy them.
It’s probably not a coincidence, but one of my favourite writers in the world is Alice Walker, and The Color Purple is probably one of my favourite books. One of the most famous lines in the book is thus:
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”
Now, religious is the last thing I am, but replace God with nature and that’s where you’ll find me!
To kick off proceedings, I made this Cherry Brandy Chocolate Brownie at the very beginning of Lockdown in Ireland. Cherries were coming in season and my friend and Chocolate Maker extraordinaire, Allison Roberts of Exploding Tree, was, (still is), selling Experimenters Kits containing Raw Cocoa Beans, Roasted Cocoa Nibs, Coconut Blossom Sugar, Untempered Cooking Chocolate and a bag of Cocoa Husk Tea. Experimenting with these brownies was the first thing on my list!
I used fresh cherries here, but you could use tinned – just don’t throw away the juice! If you are using fresh cherries, allow at least two days for them to macerate in the juice, sugar and brandy before making the brownie mixture. If course, if you’d like to make these for your precious little ones, just leave out the brandy. Shame, but needs must – this I understand!
Ingredients – makes 12 – 16 brownies depending on portion size!
For the macerated cherries:
- 125 g cherries, pitted and halved
- 3 tbsp of coconut blossom sugar or golden caster sugar
- 150 ml tart organic cherry juice
- 100 ml brandy
For the brownie mixture:
- 265 g butter, cubed
- 265 g dark chocolate – I used Allison’s Oat Milk Chocolate (60%)
- 125 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 300 g coconut blossom sugar or golden caster sugar
- 4 eggs
You will also need:
- Velvet Cloud Sheeps Yogurt
- Retain the liquid from macerating the cherries
- More chocolate for grating over
- Thick cream whipped to a soft peak
- Place all the ingredients for macerating the cherries into a sterilised jar. Close the lid tightly and shake. Leave that to work its magic for at least two days. Give it a shake each day. No need to refrigerate but keep out of direct sunlight or sources of heat.
- To make the brownie, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line a 22cm square brownie tin.
- Place the butter and chocolate in a glass or metal bowl over a gently simmering saucepan of water. Ensure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl, melt gently and stir together. Take off the heat and set aside.
- Beat together the eggs and sugar until fluffy, then add the chocolate mixture and stir well to combine.
- Mix the baking powder through the flour then add the flour mix to the chocolate and egg mix gradually to ensure a beautifully smooth texture.
- Drain, but retain, the liquid from the cherries. Add about half the cherries to the batter mix, stir through then pour into the prepared baking tin.
- Place the remaining cherry halves so they just sit in the brownie mix without sinking, and drizzle thick, silky lines of Velvet Cloud sheep’s yogurt over the top.
- Bake in the oven for between 40 – 45 mins. I prefer my brownie to have a crust on top, mostly solid with a slightly fudgy but not oozy centre. Ideally things should still wobble a little under the crust. As the brownie cools down it will firm up, so don’t fret too much!
- Remove the brownie from the oven and allow to cool in the baking tin for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile take the reserved cherry and brandy juice and place into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer to thicken and reduce the sauce by about a third – it should coat the back of a teaspoon.
- Use a bamboo skewer or something similar to make small holes all over the surface of the brownie. Using a pastry brush, brush over the reduced cherry stock to soak into the brownie. Be generous, but don’t use it all up otherwise the brownie will collapse. Reserve it for drizzling over when serving!
- Cover and place in the fridge to cool right and firm up.
- To serve, remove from the baking tin and cut into squares (between 12-16 depending on portion size – I am not here to judge!).
- Plate a square of brownie, grate over some more chocolate, drizzle over some of the left over cherry stock and serve with a generous mound of pillowy whipped cream.