Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The raisin lovers meet the chocoholics (TWD)



So this was my week to pick!  I had no idea it would be so hard to make up my mind.  I had some different things that I've been considering over the past few months since I got the book.  But when it came down to actually deciding, it was tough.  I had a couple criteria in mind.  I wanted something not too complicated.  And a recipe that didn't make a huge quantity of something.  In other words, no big cakes or pies.  I seriously considered something from the breakfast/quick bread section of the book.  Then I started thinking about the fact that we haven't had very many recipes that were chocolate-intensive.  I'm a diehard chocoholic--as you can see from my pantry.  So I turned to the brownies.  

Dorie has quite a few brownie recipes in there--more than I realized until I started looking closely at them.  As I went through them, I kept turning back to the French Chocolate Brownies.  I love raisins.  I put them in my chocolate chip cookies.  I love them in cinnamon rolls.  And in anything with apples.  But in brownies?  That seemed like it might be a bit weird. So I decided to get my husband's input.  I ran through the different brownie options for him and when I was done, he immediately said that the French Chocolate Brownies sounded the most intriguing to him because of the rum raisins.  So that's what I went with!


When I sent my selection in to Laurie, she cautioned me not to be upset if people didn't seem to like the raisins in there.  But I was already expecting that, after all the posts I read about the Brioche Raisin Snails and the Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake.  I was hoping that most people would try substituting some other dried fruit.  I imagine that dried cherries would be good, if I liked cherries.  =)  

The brownies were pretty easy to make.  I did the raisins the evening before, since I like to give them lots of time to soak up the rum.  I had some trouble flaming them this time.  I checked the recipe for the snails (where I didn't have any problems), and it has twice as much rum.  I'll have to try that next time.  I want more raisins anyway.  I went with my usual bittersweet chocolate, El Rey Gran Saman 70%.  My baking time was at the shorter end of what the recipe indicated (50 min).  

A number of people mentioned that the brownies have an odd thick crust on top, and I did get that.  But the taste was still terrific.  The raisins were a fantastic addition, except that there weren't enough of them.  I'm not sure if this particular brownie recipe will make it into my regular rotation, but I definitely want to try adding the rum raisins to some of my other favorite versions.  The brownies are good on their own, but I couldn't resist trying one of Dorie's recommended garnishes, to dress up the photos.  Plus I got to add a bit more rum to the whipped cream.  =)

Don't forget to head over to the Tuesdays with Dorie page to check out the blogroll and see what everyone else did to put their own stamps on this week's recipe.  


French Chocolate Brownies
(adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 92-93)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt (I used 1/4 tsp--guess I can't read instructions)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins (dark or golden)
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used El Rey Gran Saman 70%)
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.  (I lined the pan with non-stick foil and skipped the butter.)

Whisk the flour, salt and cinnamon together.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum and let it warm for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum with a long match. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside.  (I had trouble with flaming the raisins--not enough rum?  Also, I like to do this quite a while before I make the rest of the recipe to give the raisins lots of time to soak up the rum.)

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring until it melts. It’s important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you’ve got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it’s better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole.  (I used the microwave.)

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. (I used the hand mixer.)  Reduce the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter mixture, mixing only until it is incorporated—you’ll have a thick, creamy batter.  (I just used a whisk, not the mixer.)  Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated. Then finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. (I used the spatula for all the mixing of the dry ingredients.)  Fold in the raisins, along with any liquid remaining in the pan. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they’re even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good accompaniments are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or, dare I suggest, all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept a room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.

48 comments:

  1. A WONDERFUL selection! I really loved them. Thanks!!

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  2. You were in a tough spot being a raisin lover amongst many non raisin lovers, but you made a bold choice and you're much respected for it. Good call on the cherries, though. It's what I went with :) I loved these. Great job!

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  3. this was a great choice, and even as someone who dislikes both raisins and the combo of fruit and chocolate, i did just fine with a substitution. thanks for the pick o' the week!

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  4. Great choice, Di - I needed a chocolate fix! I did not get an odd crust, to my surprise!

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  5. Great choice! Thank goodness for brownies - my coworkers loved them, raisins and all!

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  6. I added rum to the whipped cream too! And doubled the raisins, and the rum. Boy, these were so good, thanks for choosing this recipe, I'm not sure I would have tried it on my own. :)

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  7. great pick! The raisins were a tasty addition! Your brownie looks delicious!

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  8. Thanks for such an amazing pick! These are my new favorite brownie :)

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  9. Your brownies look wonderful! I could lick the screen!

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  10. I was dubious, but I ended up loving this recipe. Thanks for a great pick!

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  11. Thanks for picking this recipe, it was a great one! I love your brownie pictures with the whipped cream, very pretty.

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  12. What a fun pick for you to make--I liked reading how you came down to this recipe, and glad you got to indulge in the raisins!

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  13. They look great! Nice choice!

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  14. Thanks for the selection Di...I love raisins, but I decided to go with raspberries and Chambord with the super dark brownies this time around...!!! Love your rum whipped cream idea..YUM!

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  15. yours are lovely, especially with the pillow of whipped cream on the top.

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  16. Your brownies look great! Good choice of recipe!

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  17. Those look gorgeous! Thanks for the warm welcome to TWD! I can't wait to see more!

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  18. Thanks for the great selection! I went the the dried cherry route, and was very happy with the results. Your brownies look delish!

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  19. Great choice this week, I enjoyed making something I love (brownies) with an interesting twist.

    Your brownies look delicious! They look wayyyy more fudgy and decadent than mine...

    Hmph. (Brownie Envy).

    Great Job!

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  20. Great pick and it looks so good!

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  21. Great choice, I LOVED these brownies! Yours look yummy!

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  22. Great choice this week! Thanks for hosting.
    Clara @ I♥food4thought

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  23. I'm one of those raisin haters but that never bothers me with the recipe that is chosen - after all we're here to bake them all! I loved the pick, even if they did beat me twice - I openly admitted it was my fault and some bad luck! Thanks for choosing a chocolate recipe!

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  24. Great choice Di! These brownies were so tasty. Yours look great!

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  25. Great choice - I liked reading about how you made your decision. And your brownies look fantastic too!

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  26. Thanks for choosing these! Sorry I was boring with my lack of raisins! :-)

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  27. Great choice! And your photos look beautiful!

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  28. Di, you converted this non-brownie loving, non-raisin loving girl with this recipe! So glad that you choose it, it's going on my favorites list!

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  29. Great pick! My burn out a little, but they were delicious anyway!

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  30. What a great pick for this time of the year! These are picnic-perfect. Gorgeous photos!

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  31. This was a wonderful selection! Fun and easy to make it was well enjoyed in my house! Great job!

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  32. thanks for picking out such a wonderful recipe! i'm sorry i ommited the raisins too! but i added white chocolate chips instead cause i'm a die hard chocolate fan like you!

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  33. thanks for a great pick!

    i, too, got a thick crust like you but mine seems even thicker than yours!

    i love rum raisins...esp rum raisin ice cream from haagen daaz :) i was wondering why i didn't get super flames this time like w/the raisin snails - now i know why! i need to use more rum next time then!

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  34. You are my hero now woman! These brownies are an instant favourite for us, and they make the best cookies the next day too!

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  35. You picked a great recipe Di, even if it evoked a sink full of dishes. :) And for me, I actually LIKE crusty brownies... they remind me of the ones my grandma used to make. Thanks for being such a gracious hostess.

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  36. Loved the brownies. Loved the raisins. Loved the crust. Great choice!

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  37. your brownies look divine with that dollop of cream on top!

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  38. I LOVED the raisins too! Great choice--thanks!!

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  39. I loved this selection. Your brownies look fabulous! :)

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  40. WOW I just went and checked out your chocolate collection in your pantry (from the post you linked to). SO jealous!! Anyway, your brownies look great and I loved your choice this week! It's nice to have a break from all the complicated recipes and just have something yummy and easier to make. :)

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  41. I'm happy to be among the raisin lovers. Thanks for selecting a fun recipe to play with!

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  42. Great pick! I loved this brownie.
    Shari@Whisk: a food blog

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  43. They don't have a Trader Joe's near you? That's so unfortunate! I guess I'm spoiled with thinking they're everywhere.

    I'm so glad that you picked this recipe! I definitely would not have thought of putting raisins into brownies, but it was a great choice. Your brownies look so thick and dense and yummy!

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  44. Thanks for picking this recipe!
    Ulrike from Küchenlatein

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  45. I really enjoyed this selection. Thanks for the pick.

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  46. Yes, I agree with everyone else! Great choice. Next time I will give the rum and raisins a try. Your brownies look great!!!

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  47. This brownie recipe intrigued me when I first saw it in the book, and I had been really wanting to make it. I was in the middle of moving when you chose this recipe, but once my kitchen was unpacked enough, I got to work making them! I was sure glad I caught up on them, because these brownies were delicious! Definitely one of my favorite brownie recipes. Thanks for picking these so I could finally make them! (will blog them soon) Yours look fabulous!

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