Photo by Holly Bell
So youthful types get a bad press in general, no? I know I find myself crossing the road from large groups of teens, as if they're a dangerous species, liable to snap and scratch. We're conditioned to think of teens as feral, difficult and just plain bad. Well, I feel guilty about my presumptions after my experience with a carriage of silver drunks at the weekend.
A large group of men all over the age of 55 monopolised the carriage. (Actually, I am being kind. They were 60 if they were a day). They were very, very drunk. So far down the path to a a hangover that they couldn't stand without help. They were shouting, swearing and I'm afraid to tell you, vomiting. One man, a delightful specimen, was telling the whole carriage what a dreadful woman his wife was. Guess who picked him up at the station?
The teenage girl next to me sat reading a classic novel, earphones in, occasionally rolling her eyes. I'm not sure whether to be impressed at their joie de vivre or appalled as she was. The only answer to the trauma of this very long journey of being terrorised by inebriated middle aged men was to make a batch of these brownies just as soon as I got home.
Makes 12 brownies or one larger traybake
425g tin black pitted cherries in syrup, drained to 213g
2 tbsp kirsch
125g salted butter
400g dark chocolate
1 tbsp vanilla extract
175g dark soft brown sugar
65g castor sugar
100g ground almonds
3 large eggs, at room temperature
85g morello cherry conserve
300mls double cream
70g icing sugar
250g fresh cherries, stalks on
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark four. Line a 25 x 20cm tin with non-stick paper. Drain the tinned cherries and discard the syrup then heat in a small pan with two tbsp of the kirsch for three minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Place 325g chocolate and the butter into a medium saucepan and heat on a very low heat, stirring all the time until dissolved and molten then remove from the heat. (If you are worried about the chocolate going grainy then use the bain marie method). Put the rest of the chocolate in the fridge.
Add the vanilla extract, both sugars, almonds, the eggs and the tinned cherries to the molten chocolate and butter and stir well. Pour into the tin and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until the top of the brownie has formed a crust but there's still a little squidge left in the middle. (The sides will be a little better cooked.) It may have puffed up a bit but will sink after removing from the oven. Cool on a wire rack still in the tin until completely cool.
Once cooled spread the top with a very thin layer of conserve, ensuring you spread all the way to the edges. Then whip the double cream with the icing sugar to medium peaks. Spread over the top of the jam covered brownie. Make some chocolate shavings with the refrigerated dark chocolate by pushing a sharp non serrated knife across the top. Decorate with fresh stalk-on cherries and chocolate shavings.
Slice with a hot knife (dipped in boiling water) for perfect little squares.
Holly blogs at Recipes from a Normal Mum
Her first book is out now, also called Recipes from a Normal Mum