Monday, July 23, 2012

Roasted Cherry Brownies with Black Fudge Frosting

Brownies are almost a universally favourite dessert. Frosted or not, fudgy, cakey, chewy or somewhere in between, nut filled, packed with fruit or plain jane, raw, low sugar vegan or butter, eggs and chocolate packed, there are so many variations on the theme that everyone can find something about the bake sale staple to love. Even people who don't typically like chocolate, barring an actual allergy, can find a fondness for a brownie, or at the very least it's blondie cousin.

These days, adding roasted fruit such as cherries to these decadent bars is nothing new and innovative - a quick Google search provided me with no fewer than 2,990,000 results, and on the first two pages I found 10 different blogs with 10 different variations on the theme. But none of them quite matched what I had in mind for my brownie extraordinaire - a rich in flavour, moist textured crumb, but not weighed down with tons of eggs or melted chocolate that would impede the perfection of simply roasted local fruit. I had some of the seed butter I shared with you before sitting in the fridge, and I got it into my head that I'd try to make these bars using it, without any other fat at all.

Somewhere from the depths of my favourites folder I found this gem from VeganJoy and used it as my jumping off point. First, I added extra cherries and changed them from fresh, tart and juicy morsels into roasted, almost caramelized nuggets of fruity gold. Then, the oil became homemade seed spread, milk became cherry juice and the sugar morphed from white to brown, along the way losing 2/3 of it's former volume. A tweak to the flour made it 100% whole grain, a dash of espresso powder amped up the "adult" factor, and a bit of extra binding from ground cia tied everything together. The result was nothing short of delicious (as you can see by the carnage above!) but I had a second tier to add. A brownie version of the Say Yes to the Dress "jacking up the outfit" if you will. 

Oh yes, I added frosting. That in itself is a pretty big deal - I'm inherently lazy and frosting to me is one of those things that is just way too much fuss and bother to deal with. Unless its a birthday or special occasion cake, or a commissioned piece, I usually put effort into making the base portion flavourful and rich enough that it can stand out on its own, needing no accoutrement. And honestly, I was going to do that here too. But then, browsing the interwebs (really, I should be supervised when online - nothing ever gets done!) I found a brilliant idea for frosting from the blog Corrina, Darling! and it suddenly became no question: it was being made that day. What attracted me in the first place was how rich and creamy it was thanks to it's "super secret" base ingredient, and it only took a few tiny changes, switching it from vanilla to chocolate, to achieve the ideal crown for my beautiful brownies. Nobody who ate the finished brownies knew what was so special about them (except for the obvious cherry component) and when I revealed that not only were they vegan, but 100% whole grain, lower in fat and calories, and a source of super-healthy legumes I was told off for lying twice! But, just like George Washington and his cherry tree, I cannot tell a lie - one good sized square, with frosting, is less than 145 calories and has only 4 grams of fat (plus 4 grams of fibre and almost 3.5 grams of protein!) - and tastes so rich and sinful you are more than satisfied by the time you lick your lips! 


Roasted Cherry Brownies with Black Fudge Frosting
Makes 16 squares
300g (just over 10.5 oz) fresh black cherries, pitted
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup homemade pumpkin / sunflower seed butter (or your favourite nut butter)
3/4 cup cherry juice
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp vinegar (I used raspberry vinegar)
3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup spelt flour
2 tsp ground chia seed
1 tsp espresso powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Frosting
3/4 cup well cooked black beans
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp non-hydrogenated shortening or soft coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch salt
 
Brownies:
  1. Preheat oven to 450F and grease a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Spread the cherries out in one layer and sprinkle with the 1 tbsp sugar.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes, then scrape the mixture (avoid any burnt bits) into a bowl and allow to cool.
  4. Reduce oven to 350F and line a 9" square pan with parchment or foil.
  5. In a bowl mix together brown sugar, seed butter, cherry juice, vanilla and vinegar.
  6. Stir in the cocoa, then gently stir in the flour, chia seed, espresso powder, baking soda and salt.
  7. Fold in the cherries.
  8. Bake 30 minutes, until the centre is set. Cool completely and chill before frosting.
Frosting:
  1. Place beans, brown sugar, shortening, vanilla and cocoa in a food processor and puree.
  2. Melt chocolate and add to the processor, blend in.
  3. Sift in the powdered sugar and add the salt. Run the processor until completely smooth.
  4. Scrape into a bowl and chill. Beat again before spreading on chilled brownies.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 142.9
Total Fat: 4.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 33.6 mg
Total Carbs: 29.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.0 g
Protein: 3.3 g