Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Fresh Cranberry Brownies

I apologize for the lack of frequent posts lately. I miss blogging regularly, but planning a wedding is a job in itself, and unfortunately with our wedding timeline it takes priority right now! We’re getting married this fall, and so most big details (and even some of the smaller ones) need to get ironed out now. I’m trying to take it all slowly and in stride, so I enjoy it instead of letting it overwhelm me – and so far, so good! I can see it coming together, and I get giddier by the day just thinking about it.

Anyway, you’re not here for wedding updates, you’re here for recipes! Today’s post is my Secret Recipe Club pick for January – which as usual, did not come about without a few hiccups. I was assigned Liz’s blog That Skinny Chick Can Bake, and was immediately overwhelmed with the options. She had way too many things I wanted to make! Over a couple of days (literally, days – I’m an indecisive person!) I narrowed down my options, until I was deciding between flourless fudge cookies and whole wheat bagels. I approached Kevin with the options, and he picked bagels, because we’ve kind of been on a bagel kick lately, and I’d never tried to make them myself. I looked over the recipe and it seemed super simple, so yesterday (yes, I’m indecisive and also very, VERY last minute) I decided to give them a go.

Cranberry Brownies

Well, I thought I’d read the recipe through, but when I was them yesterday, I got to the part that read “refrigerate 12-24 hours.” At that point, it was about 1:00pm, and this post was DUE at 12:00pm today, so there was literally no chance the bagels were going to happen. I was already trying to pack too many things into one day, so I had a small meltdown at that point. I hate when I make silly mistakes, because there’s no one to blame but myself! Knowing I had little time to cry over my mistake, I went in search of another option.

Fortunately I remembered this Dorie Greenspan recipe I’d seen on Liz’s blog (called the Best Ever Brownies – quite a claim!) when I first was looking for a recipe, and it seemed like a solid back-up choice. I also needed to bake a dessert for a cranberry-themed dinner tonight, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone, and make cranberry brownies. Definitely gave myself a pat on the back for that one.

Cranberry Brownies

The brownie recipe is simple, and included so much butter, sugar and chocolate that I knew I would love them. I had some leftover homemade cranberry sauce and fresh cranberries still leftover from the holidays, so I decided to incorporate both of those – fresh cranberries in the batter, with a cranberry sauce swirl – and they came out beautifully. The brownies are super fudgy and moist, so much so I was initially worried mine weren’t cooked all the way through. Not to worry – after tasting a few, I realize that’s just how this recipe is. I probably could have cooked them through more, but they would’ve gotten dry, and I LOVE my brownies fudgy.

Cranberry Brownies

At the end of the day, I was so pleased with how these came out, even if they weren’t a part of my original plan. They aren’t the best brownies I’ve ever bad (that title still goes to Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies recipes), but they are pretty darn good. The addition of cranberry works nicely because it adds a bright, tart flavor to contrast the dense, rich chocolate. They’re silky in the middle with a nice crust on top, and satisfyingly dense. You only need one, but it tastes oh so good.

The best part about this long, rambling story? (Besides, of course, the fact that I have a delicious dessert to bring to dinner tonight…) I still have bagels resting in the refrigerator! I’ll let you know how those come out too 🙂

Fresh Cranberry Brownies
adapted from That Skinny Chick Can Bake, originally from Dorie Greenspan

1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup homemade cranberry sauce

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1) In a medium bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Set aside.

2) In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter and both chocolates, paying close attention and stirring frequently to be sure chocolate does not burn. Add 1 cup sugar to the mixture and stir to combine, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and set aside.

3) Put the remaining 1 cup sugar and eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk briefly to combine. Gradually pour half of the sugar and egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula to be sure not to cook the eggs. With the whisk attachment, whip the remaining sugar and eggs for about 3 minutes, until they are pale, thick, and doubled in volume. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate mixture.  When the eggs are mostly incorporated, gently fold in the dry ingredients.

4) Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch pan. Bake the brownies for 25-28 minutes, until they’ve formed a shiny crust on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out (mostly) clean. The should look set, but still yield a bit to the touch. Cool brownies completely in the pan on a rack. Cut into bars and serve!

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