Excuse the poor lighting; this was taken under fluorescent lights in my cubicle at work.
Last night I made these brownies for a co-worker. They were inspired by the chocolate cherry cake balls I recently saw on Hungry Happenings. If I had more time, I probably would have followed Beth’s recipe as-is. With more ideas than time, however, I wondered if I could instead suspend the cherries in a sheet cake. Or maybe brownies, since the batter would be more likely to hold the cherries in place than cake batter would. That’s the ticket.
Since I am sensitive to gluten, I don’t have traditional baking products (flour, refined sugar, etc.) in my kitchen pantry. When I bake for my co-workers, I typically start with a mix and ‘pimp’ it to add a more homemade taste. Ghirardelli Brownies are a great go-to mix. I bought two boxes, because I wanted a thick, but chewy, brownie to complete cover the cherries in the batter. I followed the directions on the box, except I substituted the reserved maraschino juice for the water called for in the recipe.
The full recipe is posted below, but I wanted to show you guys some of my technique. I spread half the brownie batter in the prepared pan, and then I evenly spaced the cherries on top. Using a small ice cream scoop, I added more dollops of brownie batter between the cherries. Then, using an offset spatula, I spread the additional batter over and around the cherries. I don’t think that I will need to be so meticulous about this next time, since the brownies rise in baking and cover the cherries well.
Before I put the brownies in the oven, I started to worry that the stems would burn. They are completely saturated in a super sugary syrup (say that three times fast). Never fear, I made them all little aluminum foil overcoats to protect them during baking. (Sorry for the blurry photo; it was late and my kitchen lighting leaves a lot to be desired.) Unfortunately the stems still got a little crispy, but who cares? Unless you guys were planning to tie them in knots with your tongue…just saying. When the brownies come out of the over, just slip their coats off the stems.
I wanted the frosting on these brownies to be rich and sugary, almost like candy. I decided to use a variation of the frosting that I make for Texas Sheet Cake. While it was warm, I poured it over the still-warm brownies. It was easier than I thought to dodge the cherry stems. I think any other frosting may be more difficult to maneuver, but you could skip the frosting altogether.
Next time around I will probably use more cherries spaced more closely together, and I will cut these into smaller brownies. Then it will be easy to eat these in one bite while pulling out the cherry stem. As is, there isn’t as much cherry flavor in each bite as I would like. And there is a danger of getting a cherry stem up your nose as you daintily nibble the edges. Not that I would know anything about that.
Chocolate-Covered Cherry Ghirardelli Brownies
2 20-ounce boxes of Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme Brownie Mix
24 maraschino cherries, drained
1/2 c. reserved maraschino cherry juice
2/3 c. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter
4 T. Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder
6 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 325°F and prepare 13×9-inch baking pan by lightly greasing or spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
Mix together the maraschino cherry juice, vegetable oil, and eggs until well combined. Add the dry brownie mix and chocolate syrup packets from both boxes of mix. Stir until the dry mix is just incorporated into the wet ingredients. Do not over-mix.
Spread half of brownie batter in the prepared pan. Evenly space the drained cherries on top of the batter in the pan. Using a small ice cream scoop, add more dollops of brownie batter between the cherries. With an offset spatula, spread the additional batter over and around the cherries.
Wrap the cherry stems with aluminum foil so that they won’t burn. Then place the pan in the oven for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Immediately after taking the brownies from the oven, begin melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add the cocoa and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk and vanilla. Stir again, then add the powdered sugar a cup or two at a time, stirring with each addition. When all the powdered sugar has been added, continue to stir briskly until the frosting is smooth. Pour the warm frosting over the still-warm brownies. Allow to cool slightly, or completely if you can resist the warm chocolatey temptation, before cutting.
Makes 24 brownies.