It’s Friday. Thanks to a long work week, my creative juices are drained. Not to mention I’m running low on new textual material for this week’s featured ingredient – the local cranberry. Or, now that I think about it, it’s probably just the sorry lack of caffeine that my brain so desperately needs to cough its way out of slumber on chilly winter mornings. Let me regal you with a few quick, disjointed snippets, after which we’ll cease with the yakking and commence with the smacking of the lips (at the sight of these chocolaty treats).
Gintoino brought it to my attention in the comments of yesterday’s post that some readers outside the confines of North America might not know what the heck a cranberry is. Shamefully, I kind of forgot that this tart little berry isn’t an international star. I was wondering if any of you might be able to help out with identifying potential substitutes for cranberries that might be available to readers in Portugal and beyond. I’m at a loss myself. We’re looking for something that’s tart, a little bigger than a blueberry, fairly hard like a juniper berry so it holds its shape during cooking, and something that releases lots of juice once cooked. Thoughts, anyone?
I’ve made this recipe several times before and have always baked it up in a square cake pan as directed. On Wednesday evening, I got home late from work but wanted to get these together quickly for a games night at Farmer Dave’s residence — now that it’s winter, we have to keep ourselves occupied with Scrabble and poker. In case you’re curious, I only fell short of winning the night’s Scrabble game by two points. I won’t let that happen again. Anyway…the original bake time for these puppies in a square pan is about 45 minutes. I only had 30 so I decided to throw them into a muffin tin instead. I gotta say, I think I like them better as rounds – besides a shorter stay in the oven, they’re quite pretty and rather handy for sharing. From now on chocolate cranberry squares will be chocolate cranberry rounds at my house. Of course, you can pick the shape that fits you best. I’ve included directions for both.
CRANBERRY CHOCOLATE SQUARES or ROUNDS
Adapted from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Cookies
1/2 c. margarine or butter
4 T. cocoa powder
1 1/4 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 c. self-rising flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. fresh cranberries
2/3 c. fat free sour cream
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. self-rising flour
4 T. soft margarine
1 egg, beaten
1/2 t. vanilla extract
5 T. coarsely-grated semisweet chocolate for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9″ x 9″ cake pan or a 12 count muffin tin with non-stick spray. Set aside.
Combine the butter, cocoa and sugar in a saucepan and stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the flour and eggs. Lastly, stir in the cranberries and spread the mixture in the prepared cake pan or spoon it into the prepared muffin tin, filling each about 3/4 full.
To make the topping, mix all the ingredients (except the grated chocolate) in a bowl. Beat until smooth and then spread over the chocolate base in the pan or spoon enough onto each muffin to fill to the top. Sprinkle with the grated chocolate.
If using the cake pan, bake for 40-45 minutes until firm to the touch. If using the muffin approach, bake for 30 minutes. Cool before removing from the pan.