Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cherry Brownies with Ganache and Sea Salt

Cherries and chocolate, as I've mentioned before, are one of my all-time favorite marriages of flavor, especially if the cherries are perfectly in season, sweet and sun-ripened, and the chocolate is dark and bittersweet.

With cherries inexpensive in their abundance last month, I felt compelled to bring a bag home, and as delicious as they are on their own, I wanted to try making a brownie with fresh cherries folded into the batter.  The brownie batter was rich and chocolatey with both unsweetened cocoa powder and melted bittersweet chocolate.  Instead of a sugary frosting, I made a creamy ganache with the same bittersweet chocolate to spread over the top.

A sprinkling of coarse sea salt on the ganache brought out all those lovely flavors of dark chocolate and sweet cherries.

I only allowed myself a tiny taste before sending the pan to work with Jamie - there are some things that I just don't trust myself with if they are sitting on my kitchen counter - and he brought back an empty pan the next day.

It always makes me happy when other people enjoy the food I make.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Brownies with Ganache and Sea Salt
printable recipe
  • 1 pound (16 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, chopped, divided 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste 
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, divided 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved 
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream 
  • Whole sweet cherries with stems, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line a 9x13 baking pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and all the butter, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and espresso powder until smooth.  Set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla bean paste and 1/2 teaspoon salt; whisk until combined, then pour in the warm chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.  Gradually add the flour, stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon just until combined.  Fold in the 2 cups pitted cherries.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a crust forms on top a toothpick comes out almost clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.  Once cooled, lift the brownies by the foil out of the pan, and transfer to a cutting board.

To make the ganache, place the remaining 8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate in a bowl.  Pour the heavy cream into a saucepan; over medium low heat bring the cream to a gentle simmer just until it starts to bubble.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes, then stir with a spatula until smooth.  Pour over the cooled brownies and smooth out the top.

Before the ganache sets, sprinkle the remaining1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt over the ganache, then garnish with whole cherries.  Let sit for 15-20 minutes until the ganache is set (you can refrigerate them to speed up the process), then cut into squares.

Yields 15 large brownies or 24 small brownies. 

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen.


  1. Hi - this recipe sounds absolutely decadent! But... what can one do if one does not have access to vanilla bean paste? Living on the fringe of civilization does have its drawbacks.

    Any possible substitutes for the paste? Thanks!

  2. Debbie, vanilla bean paste is just an alternate option to scraping the seeds out of a whole vanilla bean, and both deliver that potent vanilla flavor. If neither is available, then you can just use good quality vanilla extract.

  3. Oh my heavens these are a few of my favorite things,. I love fruit and chocolate together. And I loooove cherries.

  4. Could I maybe use Maraschino cherries for this? I've looked everywhere and I can't seem find fresh cherries in stores, its been driving me crazy!

    1. I wouldn't use maraschino cherries - they're way too sweet. If fresh cherries are not in season then frozen cherries will be your best option.


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