Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cherry Brownie Dream

Every December, I come up with a new dessert to serve for a festive gathering with some of my gal pals. This past year, I dreamed up a "Texas Sheet Cake" style brownie base with a white chocolate, cream cheese and cherry pie filling layer that was topped with more chocolate, cherry pie filling and toasted almonds!

Decadent? Yup! My friends thought this was delicious!

This is a multi step dessert that is best made the day ahead and refrigerated before you remove from the pan for serving. Leftovers, can be refrigerated in a covered container for a few days.

Because this is a rich dessert, a small slice goes a long way. This can easily be cut into 12 - 14 slices for serving. You can reduce the richness somewhat by using light versions of the cream cheese, pie filling and cool whip - BUT do not cut back on the quality of the white chocolate! A cheap or poor quality will taste waxy and lack flavour so really isn't worth the supposed savings in calories or cost. You could use a dark or bittersweet chocolate rather than a white to cut back on the sweetness but that would also change the whole look of the dessert. It would still be very delicious and presentable but just look different. It's up to you!

I hope you taste buds love this as much as we did!

Cherry Brownie Dream
Brownie Base
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cups sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light/reduced fat sour cream
1 egg. slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped almonds. lightly toasted

Second layer and garnishes
12 ounces good quality (I use Morden's Of Winnipeg) white chocolate - divided!
1 540ml can cherry pie filling - divided!
3 Tablespoons Cherry Brandy or Amaretto - divided!
1 8 ounce/250g light cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 litre cool whip light, thawed
2 Tablespoons finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and/or 2 Tablespoons toasted almonds for garnish

Prepare a 9 or 10 inch Springform pan by ensuring the base and ring are properly aligned and the lock is secure. Spray the inside of the assembled pan with a non stick coating such as Pam.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.

Place the water and margarine in a microwave safe dish and heat on medium power to melt the margarine. Allow to cool slightly. While it is cooling combine the sour cream, egg and vanilla. Stir the water and margarine into the dry ingredients mixing to combine. Add in the sour cream, egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Stir in the toasted almonds and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared spring form pan and spread evenly.

Bake in preheated 350F oven for 20-25 minutes or till toothpick test shows done. (With my oven, it takes about 22 minutes.)  Place the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely before continuing. (at least 1 hour!).

With a pastry brush, brush the top of the cooled brownie base with 1 Tablespoon of cherry brandy or amaretto.

In a microwave safe dish, melt 8 ounces of the white chocolate on medium power - stirring every minute till melted. Set aside to cool.

Measure out 3/4 cup of the pie filling (I used a fork and drew out mostly cherries with only a bit of the thick syrup) and set aside for garnishing the top later.

Place the softened cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat on medium speed till light and creamy. Add the remainder of the pie filling to the cream cheese. Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of cherry brandy. Mix to combine. Add the cooled melted chocolate and mix thoroughly. Don't worry if the chocolate starts to harden a bit as it goes in - tiny bits of chocolate in the creamy mixture only adds to it! Fold in about 2/3 of the whipped topping to the cream cheese mixture till well combined. Pour the creamy cherry mixture onto the cooled brownie base and smooth out to the edges and smooth across the top. Place the pan in the fridge to chill for about 2 hours to set.

Melt the remaining 4 ounces of white chocolate in the microwave. Allow to cool but not harden. Fold in the remaining whipped topping. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag for piping. If you don't have a pastry bag, you can use a new/unused zip lock bag. Place the mixture in the bag, pushing the mixture to one corner and removing as much air as you can - then close the lock. With a pair of scissors cut a small angled line across a bottom corner of the zipped bag. Pipe the chocolate mixture around the top rim of the chilled cake. Return the dessert to fridge and allow to cool till set.

Spread the remaining 1 cup of the cherry pie filling within the white chocolate circle - spreading evenly. Sprinkle with the bittersweet chocolate and/or toasted almonds. Chill until set - overnight if possible but at least 4 hours.

Carefully, run a knife around the outside edge of the dessert and the spring form ring. Release the spring on the pan and lift the outer ring off the cake. Carefully, slide the dessert onto a serving plate and return to fridge till serving. Makes 12 - 14 servings.



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