Decadent Fruit & Nut Brownies

2009/05/31

Of course, I go and start a food blog and then immediately get sick and don’t want to cook. My taste buds are all off, and my appetite is almost non-existent. However, I feel I should post something, so I pulled one of these brownies out of my freezer.

Fruit & Nut Brownie

Fruit & Nut Brownie

These brownies, a wonderful fruit and nut and cream cheese concoction, were dreamed up during finals. You see, when I am stressed, I need to bake. My first batch of brownies, from a Ghirardelli box mix, was okay, but not great. Then, a couple days later, as I was wandering around the CVS waiting to pick up a prescription, I happened to see my favorite chocolate bar of all time, the Cadbury Fruit & Nut. These bars were special finds during my days in Saint Petersburg; I only knew one store that regularly sold the dark chocolate variety, and they did not always have them, so buying one was always a real treat. I would eat a few squares on the walk home, and then put it in the pantry for later, but it never lasted long. Unfortunately, CVS, like all American retailers, only had it in milk chocolate (I really don’t like milk chocolate), so I didn’t buy one, but it inspired me to bake these gems.

For the brownies I needed a really rich, fudgy recipe, so I used one from The Crepes of Wrath, (which she in turn took from Weevalicious Recipes) to which I added many fun things.

Note: The Fruit & Nut chocolate bar only contains raisins and almonds. I added the cranberries and blueberries for variety. The cream cheese was added on a whim. I read a number of other recipes for brownies that involved cream cheese, all of which wanted me to make a cheesecake-like mixture. I decided to leave it plain, and I am happy with my decision.

The Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, melted
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli cocoa powder.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 4 oz (1/2 regular bar) cream cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, blend melted butter, sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time until combined.
  3. Add the flour, cocoa, and salt and mix until smooth. Fold in raisins, almonds, cranberries, blueberries, and chocolate chips.
  4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Cut the cream cheese into small pieces and drop onto the top of the batter. (This is messy but fun.)
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let brownies cool, then cut into squares. If you put the brownie pan on top of a wire rack, it will cool faster. (I only learned this recently, so I am telling everyone.)

I personally love these. My mother and friend were surprised by the flavor combination, but liked them, also. My boyfriend, Ian, refuses to try them, because “fruit and cheese has no business in a brownie.” Well, more for me. They freeze magnificently.

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My First Post

2009/05/27

A blog’s first post should be special. It is a blank slate, like the first page of a clean notebook. When I was a kid in school, on the first page of every spiral notebook I would inscribe (in my very best handwriting) my name, the subject matter, the time period, et cetera. It always looked so pretty. Perhaps this is the perfectionist in me, but I always want things to be “just so” at the start, which is probably why I so rarely start anything like this.

Most of this will eventually be added to the as of yet blank “About Me” section, but here goes. I love to cook. I love to entertain. I rarely use recipes, but I  do my best to transform my cooking into recipes for other people. My cooking techniques have developed considerably. When I first moved away from home at 18, I didn’t make much beyond beans & rice, pasta, salads, and sandwiches. I loved macaroni and cheese out of a box. Undergrad was a culinary experience for me. I moved from a small town in Florida to Washington, DC and began my exposure to a whole new world of flavors outside of the Italian and various Latin American cuisine. I became immediately enamored with Lebanese and Indian dishes, but over time I also grew to love Turkish, Thai, Persian, Afghan, Japanese and even Chinese food, sometimes.

After, I graduated, I spent a year in Russia, studying Russian. In addition to further broadening my culinary horizons (one day I shall wax poetic on the wonder that is khachapuri), I also had to cook a lot more with limited kitchen resources. Necessity being the mother of invention and all, I learned how to do a lot.

While in grad school, I had all these desires to stop eating processed crap, partly brought about by health issues. However, while I did cook a lot, I just couldn’t find the time to do all that. So, now, armed with my diploma and unemployed (for the time being), I am ready to dig right in and start cooking, and I am going to document my journey on this blog.

I am an ovo-lacto vegetarian (I really don’t understand vegans), and I have been since I was 11 years old. However, I am not one of those “evangelical vegetarians” as I like to call them. In fact, I even cook meat for my boyfriend and my guests, but I tend to follow a general “you don’t tell me what to eat and I won’t tell you what to eat” mantra. I do love the smell of bacon, but I don’t really have any desire to actually eat it. It’s a funny story, actually, how I became a vegetarian. When I was a kid, we had family friends who were vegetarians, and one day I came home and told my dad that I wanted to be like them, and not eat meat anymore. He looked at me and said, “You couldn’t be a vegetarian,” and I said, “Oh yeah?” We made an agreement that after New Year’s Day lasagna at my grandmother’s house, I would not eat meat for 6 months. The rest, as they say, is history.

Well, that was my first post. I hope to update soon with things I cook, and probably some restaurant reviews, too, because I love going to restaurants and have always wanted to write restaurant reviews. So, until next time…