I came up with this recipe about 45 minutes before my Purim party was supposed to start, when I became gripped with panic that there wouldn't be enough food, specifically dessert. This is the lot I have drawn as a Jewish woman: no matter how much food I prepare, I'm always convinced there won't be enough. So I improvised a recipe for brownies, and stirred in some hamantaschen filling I had left over, which in this case involved white chocolate, cinnamon, and rum-soaked cranberries. The result was a batch of brownies that was gone within 40 minutes. At one point I watched my guests press their thumbs against the bottom of the pan in search of more crumbs.
Since that fateful night I've made these brownies a number of times for a number of potluck Shabbat meals, and each time they've been a resounding success, leaving me with no leftovers, and a group of friends who seem completely astounded by my brilliance. The brownies also leave your kitchen smelling like heaven.
In my social circle, summer is when potluck Shabbat season kicks into high gear, so I offer this recipe as a recommended option for any group gathering. Besides being absolutely delicious, they have the distinct advantage of being easy to whip up in less than half an hour. I think the white chocolate, cinnamon, and cranberries are what lift this recipe to its real glory, but feel free to leave them out and mix in other exciting pantry staples, like nuts, M&Ms, or a little peanut butter swirl.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
10 Tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup rum or whiskey (optional)
1 cup white chocolate chunks (or chips)
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
Soak the cranberries (or cherries) in the rum or whiskey. You can skip this step if you don't have (or want to use) any booze.
In a microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, sugar, and cocoa. Take the bowl out every 20 seconds or so to stir. When the butter is melted and it's all stirred together you'll have a slightly grainy mixture.
Allow the mixture to cool for a minute, and then add the vanilla, and two eggs, one by one, stirring until the batter is smooth and shiny. Finally, add the flour, and stir until you can no longer see it.
Drain the cranberries, and in a small bowl combine them with the cinnamon and the white chocolate, stirring so the cinnamon is evenly distributed. Then stir the contents of the small bowl into the batter.
Bake in an 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″ pan for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Then stand back so you don't get trampled in the stampede of people coming to get them.
Pronounced: PUR-im, the Feast of Lots, Origin: Hebrew, a joyous holiday that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.