Friday, November 6, 2009

Chestnuts, Cherries and Chocolates

When my mum and I went to indulge in some retail therapy a few months ago, we were happy to stumble across a local farmers market set up outside the shopping centre. One particular stall was selling little plastic packages of dried fruits - including dried, sweet cherries, which they were offering taste testers.

Now, I love it when summer rolls around each year, because for me that means eating endless bowls of fresh cherries so naturally I was quite excited to find them in dried form. And let me tell you, they definitely do not disappoint. They are like tiny little morsels of intensely sweet cherry goodness - it's like eating really really good lollies (and I mean even better than starburst cherry fruitchews). I stupidly didn't buy a packet so unfortunately for me and mum it was a very fleeting love affair...

...Until now! I recently found them at the fruit shop up the road from my house, and so begins the start of a long, maybe not-so-healthy relationship. Do try them, I know you'll get hooked too.

I tried them in Jamie Oliver's deliciously dense, Chocolate Brownies with Chestnuts and Cherries

175g unsalted butter
200g good quality dark chocolate (the darker the better in my opinion)
75g dried cherries
75g whole roasted chestnuts chopped (I used tinned chestnuts as they aren't readily available)
75g cocoa powder, sifted
75g natural, roasted almonds (I added these to the recipe for added crunch)
100g plain flour, sifted
1tsp baking powder
300g caster sugar
4 large eggs

*Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water.
Remove from heat, stir in chestnuts, cherries and almonds. In a separate bowl mix the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar. Add this to the melted chocolate mixture until it's all combined and beat eggs into mixture too.

Pour batter into a lined and greased tin (20cm by 30cm) and place in oven for 15-20 mins. The outside will be crunchy but the middle should be gooey and soft, but still cooked.
Allow to cool in tin for 30 mins, and then cut into squares.

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