quinoa flakes, and said dried cherries into one pan of brownies? The answer: something quite wonderful.Related: Cherry Cream Cheese Brownies (Images: Megan Gordon)
In the most recent issue of Cooks Illustrated, they featured a Classic Brownie recipe, discussing in great length what makes them different. I tend to be of the camp that thinks, "What's new under the sun when it comes to brownies?" but the thing that caught my attention was the mention of cake flour. The recipe testers insist, "Cake flour makes tender brownies with a delicate chew." I was intrigued. As you well know, there are many different kinds of brownie folks out there. There are the fudgy folks, the cakey folks, and the chewy folks — and all of you who fall in between, happily straddling one or the other. I tend to prefer a pretty fudgy, rich brownie, but I also love them to have a bit of a chew and that nice crackly layer on top. So I decided to give it a go with cake flour. I amped up the quantity of chocolate that I usually use, relying on both chopped chocolate and cocoa powder, and experimented with one of my new favorite ingredients: quinoa flakes. If you're not familiar with quinoa flakes, you can find them in a box at most well-stocked grocery stores (I buy Ancient Harvest brand); they're essentially quinoa that's been pressed flat into quick-cooking flakes. Many folks use them as a speedy warm breakfast cereal, but I've been folding them into cookies and quick breads lately. And now brownies. I love quinoa flakes because they're an easy way to get an extra little hit of protein in unexpected places and they don't change the taste or texture of a recipe very much. If you cannot find quinoa flakes, you can substitue ground oats, but I wouldn't substitue whole-grain quinoa itself as it will change the wet/dry ingredient balance in the recipe.
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While this recipe has a few unexpected ingredients, it doesn't stray far from simplicity. That's one of the things I love about brownies: you should be able to whip them up in under 30 minutes. Always. I don't believe even the most deluxe brownie recipes warrant multiple dirty bowls or kitchen thermometers. I don't really even believe in sifting the dry ingredients, actually. So these brownies reflect my desire for a simple, decadent brownie — yet one into which we can sneak a few grains and dried fruits when the urge strikes. Enjoy! Quick recipe note: I used chocolate feves for this recipes — they're essentially nice, round disks of dark chocolate that make it easier when it comes to baking as you can eliminate all that chopping. But use whichever chocolate you really like. A nice dark chocolate is my preference.