July 10, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Crumb Cake

Having a glut of sour cherries from the farm share, we went in search of chocolate cherry recipes. Because what else was there for us to do!There were lots of cakes out there, but something about the recipes seemed unsatisfying. What we really wanted was a chocolate version of a classic cherry crumb cake.

The first attempt resulted in a sort of cherry chocolate goo. The crumble had no flour at all. Instead it was made of almonds, unsweetened bakers chocolate, butter, and gobs of brown sugar. The brownies cooked through well before the top layer set, so we tried a few minutes under the broiler. The result was delicious, but difficult to serve, and since the occasion was a boss’s going away party, we thought we needed something slightly more professional looking. Note: without time to try to a new recipe before the party, we went ahead and served them, and there were no complaints. The topping was a yummy mess of caramelized sugar, cherry, and chocolate flavors that went perfectly with the brownie. But there was chocolate everywhere by the time it was over, and you could really tell how much butter was involved. (If this is the sort of thing you’re going for, we’ve included that recipe below as well.) The second attempt had less of the caramel note in the topping, but was also decidedly less gooey (in a good way). We suggest you try both.

Chocolate Cherry Crumb Cake: The Professional Version

Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes; Sweetness Factor: 7 (assuming you use sour cherries; otherwise, 10); Richness Factor: 8; Difficulty Factor: 4; Chance We’ll Make it Again: 7

For the Brownie Base (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

13 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, cold
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

A quart of sour cherries

For the crumble:

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (we used white, but we think a switch to brown would be a major improvement)
1 tablespoon + 1.5 teaspoons cocoa powder
¾ cup flour
¾ cup walnuts
4.5 tablespoons unsalted butter

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish. Butter, line with parchment paper, and butter the paper. Preheat the oven °325. Adjust rack to bottom rung of the oven.

Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a glass bowl. Either place over a pot of boiling water to melt butter or put in the microwave for twenty second increments. Once the butter has melted, stir vigorously. The batter maintains a gritty look at this stage. Add the vanilla and eggs (one at a time), and stir until combined. A whisk or a wooden spoon works fine. The batter should now look glossy! Add the flour and stir until it all disappears. Pour into the prepared pan and spread out as evenly as possible. Sample (unless you are concerned about salmonella).

Pit the cherries and slice them in half. We skipped the slicing because we were short on time, but slicing will result in better chocolate cherry distribution. Press them into the top of the dough. Note: we assume canned cherries would work just fine, if you can find canned sour cherries. Let us know if you try it!

For the crumble:

Combine sugar, cocoa, flour, and walnuts in a food processor and pulverize. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks sandy. The volume is just slightly too large for a mini cuisinart, which is all we had in the kitchen we were working in, so we did this in two batches. Pour the crumble over the cherries and batter and spread it out evenly.

Bake 50 minutes. Note: these may never look completely done, but any longer, and they’ll burn. Allow to cool completely (If you can, we didn’t make it. In fact, we didn’t even make it the full fifty minutes without sampling).

Chocolate Cherry Crumb Cake: The Goo Version

Same as above, but use 15 tablespoons of butter in the brownies instead of 13. For the crumble, food process 1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup almonds, 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate. Add 3 tablespoons butter. Make sure the crumble fully covers the brownies and cherries to prevent burning.

Bake for 40 minutes. Then put under the broiler for 3 minutes. Watch carefully.

1 comment:

  1. I love a good Goo Version of any dessert! Sounds delicious. If you come up with some kind of gooey, dairy-free peanut butter/chocolate deliciousness I'd love to read about it (and try it!).