June 2, 2008

Super Good Superfood

Many health experts support the belief that some natural food sources are so rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients, they are deemed superfoods. They're referred to as super because their nutritional properties are supposed to help lower cholesterol, improve mood and even reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

There is no legal or medical definition of what constitutes a superfood, so there is no official list. However, most iterations I've seen include a similar variety of fruits and vegetables, plus walnuts, salmon, green tea and a few others.

With zero will power these days, I need as much nudging to eat super as possible. So I wanted to make sure I modified this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe to include something with good nutritional value. Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook selected French Chocolate Brownies. Some may argue that good chocolate has antioxidant properties, which is probably true if you eat a single brownie. But, I suspect the benefits kind of cancel out if you eat the full plate. (Is it wrong to eat a whole batch in one sitting?)

When I went to purchase the raisins for which the recipe calls, I noticed a display of dried blueberries. The packaging called out the antioxidant properties of blueberries and I decided to go that route. One for the nutrition, but (get real; we're making brownies here) two for the unique chocolate-blueberry flavor combination.

The prep for this recipe was fairly straight-forward and moved quickly. Others mentioned that the top of the brownies had cracked, so I kept close to the oven and removed the pan as soon as it looked like a crack was forming. I cooked it for 50 minutes and the consistency was perfect. The taste was very rich and chocolaty, but I was a little disappointed with my blueberry experiment as we couldn't really taste a strong blueberry presence. We occasionally got a bite of blueberry here and there, but no consistent blueberry taste.

Completing the blueberry theme, I paired the brownies with a scoop of homemade Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream, also from Dorie. The gorgeous blue-purple color popped against the white plate and dark brownie. We could really taste the blueberries in the ice cream, which can probably be attributed to using fresh berries compared to the dried berries in the brownies. All in all, the combination was extremely decadent and delicious. I would definitely make the brownies again, but might try adding fresh strawberries next time.

Check out more brownie action here.

French Chocolate Brownies
makes 16 brownies

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup dried blueberries
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Getting ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
... if they last that long!

More Dorie recipes I've made from Baking: From My Home to Yours
Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Florida Pie
Peanut Butter Torte
Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
Bill's Big Carrot Cake
Fresh Tangelo Cream Tart
Gooey Chocolate Cakes
Perfect Party Cake
Brioche Raisin Snails
Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake
Snickery Squares
Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits
Almost-Fudge Gâteau


Anonymous said...

Even if the flavor wasn't totally permeating, the blueberries sound incredible. Did you flambe them? The ice cream with the brownies looks divine.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

the brownies look great....and that ice cream--my gosh!

noskos said...

Very yummy looking brownies!!!

Di said...

I love seeing all the different things that people try. When I make these again I'm definitely going to use more fruit so it stands out a bit more. I love your picture with the embroidered napkin--very pretty.

Engineer Baker said...

Fabulous! Nothing like making dessert a superfood :P

Prudy said...

The blueberries in the brownies sound delicious-especially when coupled with the ice cream. Gorgeous presentation! I want that embroidered cloth napkin.

April said...

Hmm, I have never had blueberries and chocolate together. It sounds great!

C.L. said...

Ooooo! Great idea with the brownies and blueberries! I will have to try that living in Blueberry country and all! Beautiful pics too :)

Linda said...

Blueberries and chocolate...what a fantastic combination! That ice creams sounds to-die-for...would you mind sharing the recipe?

Amy said...

Oooh! I love the blueberry/chocolate idea!! Too bad the taste didn't really come through! But I bet the ice cream was awesome on top of these! I love Dorie's Blueberry Sour Cream ice cream....heaven!!

Mara said...

oooh look at your lovely brownies with blueberries and ICE CREAM....what a fab idea!! i love blueberries...next time i will try this. i went with raspberries this time around

ostwestwind said...

Great combination of your ingredients and a magnificent presentation

Ulrike from Küchenlatein

Karina said...

Blueberries and chocolate sound like a great combination! There's nothing like being able to rationalize that your brownies are healthy.

PheMom said...

Awesome job! These look wonderful!

Melissa said...

I'd like some of the blueberry ice cream please!

The Kitchen Vixen said...

They look great. Lovely pics.

Jayne said...

Hey, I have the same little white rectangular plates you do! Beautiful pictures - and I like the idea of blueberry ice cream along with the brownie. Yum.

Mary Ann said...

blueberry and chocolate-sounds so good! The photos are beautiful!

Amy said...

Blueberries and chocolate, I would have never tried it. Your brownies look fantastic. Now all I can think about is blueberries and chocolate.

Christine said...

Brownies look great! I have that ice cream on my to try list! Now I really have to try it!

LyB said...

Blueberries and brownies sound like a wonderful combination!

Rebecca said...

It isn't wrong to eat the entire plate of brownies. It's merely discouraged. ;)

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

The color of your ice cream is amazing, I can't wait to make this recipe!

Shari said...

That ice cream looks so pretty!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Dolores said...

I've been eyeing Dorie's blueberry sour cream ice cream for some time now... I'm glad to hear it's as good as it sounds. Blueberry & chocolate is a great pairing!

Jaime said...

yum! blueberries sound great, esp w/the ice cream!!!

the top's supposed to crackle but several bakers (including myself) got a super thick crust that totally cracked - i think i over beat the eggs/sugar

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

That looks gorgeous - my kind of superfood. Blueberries and chocolate sound fabulous together :)