Fudgy-Brownie Cherry Bites with Salted Whiskey Caramel Sauce
One of James's coworkers celebrated a birthday earlier this week, and though James was home sick with a man-cold (sinus-induced) I didn't want her to think we'd forgotten about her special day. Birthdays are my favorite because they give me an opportunity to craft a treat specific to one person's tastes. Kelly likes chocolate, and everybody likes salted caramel whiskey sauce. The treat of choice was apparent.
I followed this recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce (#29), but I doubled the vanilla extract to 2 teaspoons and used whiskey-based vanilla that I made at home. The brownies were inspired originally by a this Food Network recipe (#11), but they've evolved so much over the past two years that they're very much my own invention now.
Fudgy Brownie Bites Recipe
Notes:These bites are addictive. They're reminiscent of a chocolate-covered cherry, but with better textures and brighter flavors. As usual, I use salted butter in this recipe, because I am a heathen. They Ceylon cinnamon gives the bites a warm, almost spicy end note (without the need to mess with cayenne). I prep the cherries before I do anything else, stacking them cut-side up to reserve as much of their juice as possible.
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao)
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 stick butter*
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 4 eggs
- 1 Tb molasses
- 1½ tsp Ceylon cinnamon
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract*
- 1 cup flour
- 24 bing cherries, halved and pitted (48 pieces total)
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with tinfoil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Alternatively, prepare a mini-muffin tray with liners (pictured).
- In a heavy-bottomed sauce pot over medium heat, melt the two types of chocolate chips and the butter. Whisk until combined and smooth.
- Add the sugars, whisking to combine. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the molasses, cinnamon, sea salt, and vanilla.
- Add the flour and mix until combined. Whisk until the mixture is gorgeous and glossy (which doesn't take long). Resist the urge to drink the batter.
- Transfer batter into your baking vessel of your choice. If you're going to make the mini brownie bites, I recommend using a squirt bottle (this requires a funnel and mild patience) to keep things clean.
- Brownie Bites: Bake bites for 14 minutes. Transfer from mini-muffin pan to cooling rack, and immediately (while the bites are still very hot) press a half-cherry, cut-side-down, gently onto the top of each bite. Doing this while the bites are hot pulls the cherry juice down into the bite, giving it a decadently fudgy texture and the wonderful, rich flavor profile. Allow to cool completely, then top with Salted Whiskey Caramel Sauce. Fun Fact: If you eat it in one bite, the calories don't count. Probably.
- 8x8 Baking Dish: Bake brownies for 45 minutes. Remove brownies and foil from baking dish and transfer to wire rack. Press halved cherries cut-side down in even rows across the top of the brownies. Drizzle with Salted Whiskey Caramel Sauce, top with vanilla ice cream, and enjoy.
Yield: Approx. 48 mini brownie bites or one week's worth of breakfast.
What's your favorite birthday treat?