In planning a recent dinner party I had visions of serving a rich and perfectly smooth creme brulee. But then I realized that good quality heavy cream is hard, if not impossible, to come by in Tirana. Switching gears I started pouring over my favorite food websites in search of an alternative recipe. I stuck gold when I found a recipe for individual black forest brownie trifles on From Away. (I encourage those of you who aren’t familiar with this Maine based couple’s writing to check it out. Not only are their recipes and food insight great but reading their postings helps temporarily fulfill my longing for Maine). Cherries are at the peak of their season now so this was the perfect dessert.
I love the combination of chocolate and cherries tempered with a bit of whipped cream. The cleaver way of serving these trifles, in individual jelly jars, made me realize they would add the perfect amount of whimsy to my dinner. I’ve added my own twist onto this recipe. I prefer my own brownie recipe which is moist and has a touch of almond flavor. I also adapted my the original cherry recipe by substituting orange liqueur for some of the liquid.
The results? A simple yet visually pleasing dessert that pleased the entire table. Try it for yourself.
BLACK FOREST BROWNIE TRIFLES
For the brownies:
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons extract of your choice, I prefer almond
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil then coat lightly with vegetable spray.
- Melt the chocolates, butter, and cocoa in the microwave, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly.
- Whisk the sugar, eggs, extract, and salt together in a large bowl until well combined.
- Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in the flour until no streaks remain.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, before removing the brownies from the pan using the foil and cutting into squares.
For the cherries:
4 cups fresh cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup Grand Marnier liqueur, or other orange flavored liqueur
4 teaspoons corn starch
- Place the cherries in a large sauce pan. Add the sugar, juice, and liqueur and stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer a cook for 5 minutes or until the cherries start to break down.
- Stir in the cornstarch and whisk to combine. Cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and set aside. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour before assembling the trifles.
For the cream:
16 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 – 2/3 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
- Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
- Using an electric mixer, beat until all of the ingredients are combined and the cream forms stiff peaks.
- Crumble the brownies into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Alternate layers of brownies, cherries, and cream in each of the 8 serving dishes starting with a layer of brownies and ending with a layer of cream. Depending upon the depth of your dishes you should have 3 or 4 layers.
- Top with a fresh cherry if desired.
- Allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.