Monday, April 4, 2011

Merlot Dark Chocolate Brownies

Every gal I know loves to have chocolate, coffee and wine for dessert- it's the perfect trifecta of flavors and tastes. But wine in brownies?  Sure, why not? I was inspired by some great pairings in Sonoma Valley with wine and chocolate on a recent trip.  

Reducing the wine softens the flavors and intensifies the jamminess of the flavor in the brownies.   I adapted this recipe from the "One bowl brownie" recipe on the back of the Baker's unsweetened baking chocolate box. It really is a great recipe, and almost easier than using a mix.  I changed it up a bit by removing the vanilla, adding wine and increasing the flour.

A couple of friends and I took a 5 mile hike today and made sure to pack wine, cheese, crackers, veggies and these brownies.  Seemed to be a hit with all, and especially good for rewarding ourselves after a job well done hiking to the top of the mountain.


Makes one 9x13 pan

4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate, 1 oz. each
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup Merlot, reduced down to 1/4 cup***
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup walnuts, toasted

***Before you start baking, reduce your wine!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan, take 1 cup of Merlot and on medium high heat cook down until it is reduced to 1/4 cup.  This should TAKE about 10 minutes if you use a large bottomed saucepan.  Keep your eye on this, it takes a short time to reduce. In fact, I had to do it twice because I reduced it to 1/8 cup in much quicker time than I anticipated.  See how thick and jammy it looks below?

Toast the walnuts for about 8-10 minutes in your preheated 350 degree oven.  Be sure to set your timer, so you don't forget and let them burn!

Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper, or butter well.

In a glass measuring cup, melt your butter in the microwave.  When melted, add the 4-1 oz. squares of chocolate to the butter (melts faster if you cut each square in half first) and return for to the microwave for 30 second intervals until the chocolate is fully melted. 

In a bowl, add the flour, sugar and then the melted butter, chocolate mix.  Stir in eggs. Finally, add the reduced Merlot and the toasted, chopped walnuts.  I didn't add any salt to this recipe, it didn't seem to need it. But you could if you wanted!

Add to the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.  It took exactly 30 minutes in my glass pan.  Don't over cook them, they are best when they are moist and kind of fudgey. 
Let cool for about an hour and cut into squares.

This makes a great treat to bring to friends or co-workers, and would freeze well to have on hand for unexpected guests, or for midnight cravings...

Need some more chocolate?  Here's some other recipes to try:
Chocolate Grand Marnier Pot du Creme
Fudge for Dummies
Reese's Stuffed Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting

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