Raspberries: So Good in Bittersweet Brownies

Every summer, I wage a mostly losing battle with Mom Nature.  While the racoons seem to have moved on to other people’s trash bins, the beavers are very much at home, eating away the woods behind our house; the chipmunks stare me down when I plead with them to leave me just a tomato or two; the rabbits have demolished everything around the daisies (I guess they don’t fancy the daisies themselves); and the geese … don’t get me started on the geese.  Yet somehow, for reasons I can’t fathom but am so grateful for, the birds graciously decided to share my raspberry bush with me.

We might have had more berries had I sent my husband out to do the picking, since he’s the only person I’ve ever met who picks berries and puts them in the bowl, instead of his mouth.  But even with me practicing the one-for-me-one-for-the-bowl method of berrying, I sometimes gather enough fruit to actually use it.  The last time I did, I pureed some of the raspberries and stirred them into a cold red pepper soup, topped a coconut-whipped cream cake with some and then, just before sliding a pan of Bittersweet Brownies into the oven, I scattered a bunch over the batter.

berries on batter

As much as I love fresh-from-the-bush berries, that’s how much I love baked berries.  I can’t explain why, but with raspberries, much more so than with blueberries, for instance, baking seems to transform the fruit’s flavor.  Whenever I have a baked raspberry, I have the sense that the fruit has been macerated in eau-de-vie.  It’s as though the heat intensifies the berryness of the berry.

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Bittersweet Brownies

Adapted from (page 90 of)  BAKING FROM MY HOME TO YOURS

Makes 32 brownies
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Raspberries, the amount depends on how many you’ve got left after snacking

Getting Ready:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a 9-x-13-inch baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chopped chocolate and stir occasionally until the ingredients are just melted – you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates.  Remove the bowl from the pan of water.

With a whisk, stir in the sugar.  The mixture might get grainy, but it will even out.  Whisk in the eggs one by one, then add the vanilla and whisk enthusiastically to smooth the batter.  Finally, gently whisk in the salt and flour, stirring only until incorporated.  Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Scatter the raspberries over the batter.

Bake the brownies until the top is dull and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, usually about 40 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the brownies to room temperature.

When they are completely cool, turn out onto a rack, peel away the foil and invert onto a cutting board.  Cut into 32 slender rectangles, each roughly 2 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches.