Browniefest part 12: Brownie or Torte? — Emily Luchetti’s “Black Forest Brownies”

Finally, we come to the very last brownie recipe I made for browniefest: Emily Luchetti’s “Black Forest Brownies with Mocha Ganache” from A Passion for Desserts (Chronicle Books, 2003; p. 74). A number of the tasters were unsure whether this really properly should count as a “brownie” recipe, since the cake was as moist and soft as a rich torte, thanks to the inclusion of chopped fresh cherries in the batter. But I hadn’t known how it would come out, and the title of the recipe definitely says “brownies”, so in it stayed.

Mise en place
This recipe has a half-pound of fresh cherries, pitted and chopped, in addition to the usual brownie ingredients. It has significantly less sugar as a direct ingredient, getting more sweetness from the chocolate (8 ounces “bittersweet” — I used the last of the TCHO 66% baking discs) and the ripe fresh cherries. The assembly is by procedure 2 (as described in part 2 of this series). I accidentally used a tablespoon of Kirschwasser rather than the teaspoon called for in the recipe, but I don’t think this made a significant difference to the outcome.

Not shown here is the mise for the mocha ganache. Unusually (at least in my experience), Luchetti uses a combination of bittersweet and milk chocolate (for the latter, I used TCHO 39% milk chocolate baking discs); the coffee flavor comes from espresso powder, which is bloomed in the cream while it’s being heated. As I don’t like coffee flavors, I cut the espresso powder by two thirds. The ganache is then cooled in the refrigerator — I left it in overnight — and whipped to make a spreadable frosting.

As prepared for service, with a cherry on top
Luchetti’s instructions call for portioning the brownies first, before frosting, and so that’s what I did — on Monday morning, immediately prior to heading in to work, since these are extremely perishable. Each serving is topped with a single cherry, which has the effect of discouraging the tasters from breaking up the servings into even smaller pieces.

Evaluation results

Despite the disagreement over whether they count as “brownies” or not, “Black Forest Brownies” scored very well in the evaluation, with two “favorites” and an “overall impression” score of 4.0 (n=7) on a 1–5 scale. The scores for more specific attributes were similarly high, except for “chewiness” — they were anything but chewy and scored a 3.0 on that question — including the third-best “topping” score. I would gladly do these again, perhaps with a different topping.


Unfortunately, the nutrition analysis is not all that favorable; even for these small servings, the calorie toll is quite high — although they do still count as “A Low Sodium Food” under FDA regulations.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: one 2″x2″ square (80g)
Servings per recipe: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 410 Calories from fat 162
% Daily Value
Total Fat 18g 27%
 Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 56mg 19%
Sodium 72mg 3%
Potassium 45mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 58g 19%
 Dietary fiber 1g 2%
 Sugars 49g
Proteins 4g 8%
Vitamin A 5%
Vitamin C 3%
Calcium 5%
Iron 9%
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