Dark Chocolate and Cherry Merlot Brownies

Long, lazy holiday weekends, how I adore thee!  This weekend I plan on taking off an extra day stretching out to four days of relaxation!  I wish I could say total relaxation as I know there is always something to do around the house!  It is actually difficult for me not to do something!  That’s why I love to have guests over!  Sure there is prepping to do but to me that’s fun work!

Casual cookouts are easy on the host and make everyone feel comfortable and happily fed.  This weekend is not about fussing so I decided brownies are the way to go.  Not your mama’s brownies though but Dark Chocolate, Cherry, Merlot Brownies! I was inspired by Chef Pandita’s Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes.  I knew that the Champagne Cupcakes I’ve made in the past were always found to be irresistible, so why not Merlot and chocolate?    I saw a “healthy” version of brownies from the Cleveland Clinic Wellness site and well,  I know this is stretching it a bit, but they do say dark chocolate is good for you and red wine is good for you …. so why not combine them both!

Since we can’t live on chocolate and wine alone, so here are some of my ideas for the rest of my Memorial Day Menu:

Vegetarian Antipasto Platter

Bourbon BBQ Ribs

Roasted Red, White & Blue Potatoes with Pancetta and Gremolata

No-Fail Kale Caesar Salad

and for drinks, check out Rufus’  White Sangria

Dark Chocolate and Cherry Merlot Brownies

Adapted from the Editors of Cleveland Clinic Wellness

¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour

¾ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

½ cup agave

1/3 cup cherry preserves, no sugar added

1/3 cup Merlot

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 large egg

1 large egg white

¼ cup chopped dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper, coat with cooking spray.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Combine agave, cherry preserves, Merlot, oil, egg and egg white in another bowl and stir well until smooth.

Add wet ingredients to dry, mix until combined.  Stir in chopped chocolate.  Scrape batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Cover with syran wrap.  Serve with a sprinkle of cocoa powder or confectioners’ sugar.  Makes 16 brownie squares.

I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


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