Friday, May 18, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cherry Brownies

I know you can't tell by the title of this post, but I've been really kicking up my healthy habits lately.  I've cut caffeine almost entirely out of my diet, along with the cream and sugar that goes with it.  I've been devouring fruit and whole grains, cutting more meat out of my diet and trying to stay away from sweets.  I'm also back into a regular exercise habit, working out about 5 days a week, either running or yoga.  I'm feeling great, sleeping wonderfuly and feeling much more even-keel emotionally since I said bye bye, caffeine.  

So, you can imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale the other day and had GAINED 3 lbs.  Now of course, I'd like to think that I gained 3 lbs of muscle in the past few weeks, but I just don't know if I believe that.  I thought, maybe I'm just bloated...

2 days later, the number when up another half a pound.  What the hey!?  Now, I know a 3 lb. gain is not that big of a deal, and I don't want to come across as one of those women that obsesses about their weight, because I really don't.  If I feel good, work out and eat well I figure my body will find the place it needs to be to work optimally.  It is a bit of a bummer though to see those numbers creep up when you expect them to go down.  So, what's a girl to do?  Make brownies, of course!  Now I know this doesn't make any sense at all, but I've learned in the past that if I gain a bit and then OBSESS trying to lose it I am miserable and don't lose an ounce.  If I just say, oh well, and continue my healthy habits I always end up back where I need to be without all the stress and guilt.  So, yes.  I want to lose weight.  I am eating brownies. :)

This particular recipe comes from Baking Obsession and I like it not only because it is delicious, but also as far as desserts go it's got a lot going for it health wise.  Walnuts are a terrific source of heart-healthy fats and dark chocolate and cherries are both high in antioxidants.  Add that to the mood boost you get from eating delicious food that you made yourself, and what could be better?

6 tbsp (3/4 stick) butter, salted or unsalted
8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
¼ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts (or other nuts)
1/3 cup dry cherries, chopped
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan. Add the chocolate to the butter, stir over low heat until melted.Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Add the flour, and salt and stir energetically for 1 minute, until the batter loses its graininess and becomes smooth and glossy.  (*This is an important step, unlike most brownies you need to really incorporate these ingredients.)

Stir in the chopped nuts, cherries, and the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely before removing the brownies from the pan.

The brownies will keep well for up to 4 days (though  I'd never know....) at room temperature.

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