Raspberry Brownies, with Love

For my first weekend back in Providence, I wanted to bake the perfect dessert for Alison. Since she is fond of fruit-chocolate pairings, I decided to try making fudgy raspberry brownies. Despite a potentially fatal error in planning and some subsequent hand-wringing during the baking and cooling process, these brownies came out wonderfully. They were dense, rich, and wonderfully moist brownies with a deep chocolate taste, studded with tart raspberry flavors. Even I loved them, and I am neither a brownie nor fruit-and-chocolate aficionado. Full disclosure, however: these brownies should be served and eaten cold. The extra liquid from the raspberries makes them difficult to handle at room temperature.

First, I made the raspberry sauce, which involved processing half the raspberries with sugar and pressing the mixture through a sieve to combine with whole raspberries and a smidge of fresh lemon juice.

Here I reached my first and most worrying obstacle—I had not given much thought to the liquidity of raspberries, nor the density of brownie batter. The raspberry juice was…juicelike. Much too thin. And yet, I had used my available raspberries and worried that thickening agents would ruin the taste (which was perfect). I stuck it in the refrigerator, hoping it would thicken (it did not).

Next, I tackled the brownies, whose recipe I pulled together from several sources, with particular attention to the ingredient combinations that produced the fudgiest brownies. (Hint: lots of liquid and chocolate). I found the low flour content worrying—would it hold together???—but I soldiered on. I melted chocolate and butter and mixed in sugar, vanilla, and eggs. I read that vigorously stirring in the flour was key to brownie success, and apparently this was true. The batter transformed from a watery, gritty batter to something thick and shiny. Success! I mixed in salt and some chocolate chunks we had lying around, the latter an inspiration that I thought would complement the tartness of the raspberry.

Since the raspberry juice did not magically thicken in the refrigerator, I baked about two-thirds of the batter to increase its density, then scattered the juice-coated raspberries on top.

I topped this with the remaining batter, then heaped and swirled tablespoons of raspberry juice on top. This increased the liquidity of the brownie batter, particularly on top, so I allowed the butter knife to dislodge some of the baked batter from the bottom to integrate the juice a bit more.

In the end, I used most of the juice, despite my fear that I had ruined the batter with all the extra liquid. I put the brownies back into the oven, set the timer for 30 minutes, and then returned. Not done. Another ten minutes? Not done. Another ten? Not quite. Finally, after about 57 minutes, I removed the brownies from the oven.

After cooling, I refrigerated them to allow the texture to become fudgy. Finally, at around 9pm I cut the brownies and we sampled them. They were delicious! Although they won’t win any awards for composition, they are truly decadent raspberry-chocolate desserts.

Ingredients:

2 cups raspberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
a few drops fresh squeezed lemon juice
8 oz bittersweet baking chocolate (I used 70%), chopped
6 tbsp butter, cut into squares
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
6-7 oz dark or semisweet chocolate chunks (I used what we had around—about 4 oz dark chocolate chunks and 3 oz semisweet chocolate bar, chopped roughly)

Instructions

  1. Prepare raspberries: process 1 cup raspberries with 3 tablespoons sugar in a food processor. Set remaining raspberries in a bowl. Set a fine mesh strainer over the bowl and press the processed mixture through it. Mix whole raspberries with strained sweetened raspberry juice and squeeze about 3 drops of fresh lemon juice into mixture. Set aside.
  2. Prepare 8” square pan with 1 or 2 layers of foil so that the foil extends past all edges of the pan. Grease the foil with butter or spray oil. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. In the top of a double broiler, gently melt bittersweet chocolate and butter until smooth and shiny. Pour into another bowl.
  4. Add sugar and vanilla and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Add flour and mix vigorously for 1-1.5 minutes. Do not shirk on the mixing! It will become harder as the batter thickens and becomes more viscous.
  6. Add salt and mix.
  7. Mix in chocolate chunks.
  8. Spread about 1/2 to 2/3 of batter into pan (I probably used closer to 2/3). Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove pan. Scatter whole raspberries on top of pre-baked batter. They will retain some juice from the mixture, but reserve most of juice. The spread remaining batter on top of raspberries. Spoon juice on top to desired amount (I used about 3/4 of total liquid). Using a butter knife, swirl raspberry juice into batter. Feel free to swirl batter liberally, even displacing some of pre-baked brownie batter.
  10. Return pan to oven and bake another 50-60 minutes. Brownies are done when toothpick has a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Remove from oven and let cool on counter, then cover pan and refrigerate 2-3 hours before cutting.
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