15 February 2016

Black Forest Brownies

I know what you're thinking. These look like they were made for Valentines Day and posted late. You'd be wrong my friend, although it is true I made these brownies on Valentines Day, I made them to try and combat the joyous activity my boyfriend had planned for both of us...a 5k (almost, 4 and a bit doesn't sound as good as 5) run round the lake. Perhaps to some this sounds romantic, a lovely jog together, serenading each other as we stride side by side; to me this sounds like the end of our 8 year relationship together (I'm kidding/waiting to see whether we have to go for another run next Sunday).

The truth is I really want to enjoy running. I really do. And I want to have the flattest stomach this side of instagram. But I also really want to eat brownies, in my pyjamas, all day. Which is why my washboard stomach and abs of steel (they are there!) are hidden behind, what I can only describe as, my brownie belly. Ok, really it's a brownie/burger belly but let's leave something to the imagination. So when Dan (my main manfriend and possible ex manfriend if the running continues) suggested we go running on Valentines Day, I don't think I've ever moved so fast to eat a brownie in my life and then feign not being able to run because I'd just eaten. This horrifically backfired when I was pushed out of the house, being made to run 5 whole k (overdoing it now) and resulted in me feeling like I might regurgitate said brownie at any point. Not a great result. But really when it comes down to it you know who I blame? Myself, for telling Dan about my secret ambition to run 10k this year (for all you fitness fanatics this is probably easy as pie [mmm pie] but I tend to hit a wall after 7K, and want to sit on the floor and cry, preferably while being fed trifle).

Anyway after I'd recovered from my harsh introduction back into running and eaten more cheese than the amount of calories I'd burned off in the process. I had a brownie. And you know what, it was great. It was my Valentine's Day present to myself and, despite all the cheese, I earned that brownie! Aside from the run I got nada from you know who (aka Dandemort as he shall be known forevermore). I don't really buy into the commercial side of Valentines, sure I love flowers and chocolate (obviously, this is a post about brownies), but I love them all the time. And if I bloody want them I'll get them for myself (female empowerment forever!). But the one thing I do love and miss is Valentines Day breakfasts. When we were kids and when I'm visiting my mum, she goes all out. We're talking heart-shaped toast, eggs, maybe some pancakes, all the red berries you can think of and everything has a romantic name (eggs en cuddle for instance). My mum loves the holidays and holiday breakfasts are her speciality.

So I'm thinking I'm going to ditch the running, or at least take a break for the holidays, and stick with the Valentines Day breakfast tradition instead. Which depending on which calendar you follow could mean I'm holidaying ever weekend until 2017 (soz Dan, you'll have to find another running buddy). Maybe I could make a brownie for every holiday? Maybe I should concentrate on telling you what's in these one's first, well they're black forest so we're breaking out the cherries. I used tinned cherries because that's what I had in the cupboard, but if you want to use fresh be my guest, make them into a jam and swirl them through the mix (aka my blueberry cheesecake brownies with cherries). Made with entirely dark chocolate these are some very rich brownies perfect for your pre gym snack and full of cocoa antioxidants to keep you glowing (practically a health food). I like to eat these brownies alone, in a dark room, where no one can see me eat a pan to my self (they are that good) but you can share them if you like. They probably deserve to be seen, they are stunningly pink. Share or don't share, make a batch (or two) and eat them telling yourself (or accompanying brownie eaters) how great you all are. You deserve them.

Black Forest Brownies
(makes 14 large brownies)

250g caster sugar
150g salted butter
150g plain flour
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
250g Dark Chocolate
100g icing sugar
300g cream cheese
A 425g tin of black cherries in syrup
1 tsp vanilla paste 
Pink gel food colouring

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment (tray should be at least 2 m deep). On a low heat, melt the butter. While the butter is melting, whisk together the three eggs with the sieved caster sugar until light and combined.

Step 2. Break the dark chocolate into chunky chunks aka not too small but easily eaten pieces. When the butter is almost entirely melted, add 150g of the dark chocolate and stir with a metal spoon until it's one buttery, chocolatey smooth concoction, then take it off the heat and leave to cool slightly.  

Step 3. If you have bought cherries with the stones removed you can skip stoning them and just cut them in half, but whatever you do don't forget to check the tin first! Last thing you want is broken teeth when biting into a brownie! Cut the cherries into half and set aside.

Step 4. To make the cheesecake topping, in a large bowl mix together the cream cheese, sieved icing sugar and the egg yolk (you can save the white for mini meringues, see recipe here) till combined, then add about 50ml of the syrup from the cherries and the vanilla paste and mix it all in. Then portion out the mixture into three separate bowls, if you're using food colouring, and leave one lot white, colour one light pink and the other really pink (we're talking major pink guys).
Step 5. Brownies Assemble! Now the chocolate butter has cooled slightly, give it a stir then slowly pour it in the sugary eggs whisking the eggs as you go. Once its all mixed in fold in the sieved flour and finally add the broken up chunks of dark chocolate and the cherries. Give the mix a stir, then pour it into the lined tray and evenly spread it around using your utensil of choice.

Step 7. Working quickly, put spoonfuls of the white cheesecake mix on top of the brownie at spaced intervals I like to go for the whole 5 or 6 rows of 3 dollops per tray, but it's your call. Then add spoonfuls of the pink and really pink cheesecake topping slightly overlapping the white, until you've got no more mix. Using a chopstick, swirl the cheesecake toppings together into the brownie being careful not to go too deep. Once you're happy with your swirling, bake the brownie in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Step 8. Brownies done and fudgy, leave them to cool, then pop them in the fridge for 30 minutes (if you can wait that long!), before taking it out and cutting them into squares. I prefer, the alternative method which is waiting for as little time as possible and then eating the pan all to myself, but hey I'm a greedy bitch.     

Running rant over. Sorry about that. So after umming and ahhing over Berlin, Amsterdam or Copenhagen, we've booked a trip to (drum roll please) Edinburgh! That's right, it wasn't any of the places we discussed visiting, but hey that's how life works. My friend is coming over from Germany and we're going to have a bit of a uni get together in Scotland as a couple of our friends are living there now so thought it'd be nice to take some time to go see them. I'm really looking forward to it, we popped by briefly on our way to the Isle of Skye (read about out trip to this majestic isle here) to see Dan's Aunt and Uncle, and have been wanting to properly visit since. There's so many places I want to visit, by that I mean places I want to eat at. If anyone has any recommendations on places to eat or things to do in Edinburgh, please drop a comment below, would love to try some of your reccys out when we visit. Now if anyone needs me, me and my brownies will be in a dark room. 


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