Sunday, July 13, 2014

Caprese Salad with Roasted Cherry Dark Chocolate Brownies

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." 

Milton Berle

Savor the flavors of summer with vine ripened tomatoes and fresh basil in a caprese salad. Pair the salad with crusty artisan bread and roasted cherry dark chocolate brownies. 
Caprese Salad
Serves 4
Cook's notes: Use a  narrow long platter and alternate ingredients as shown in picture. What a find discovering a new speciality store in Walker, MN. called Loide' Oils and Vinegars Tasting Bar. The sister store is located in Nisswa, MN.
Oh, my, the variety of oils and vinegars to choose from made my head spin. But after many samplings I finally settled on Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar. I used it in the caprese salad, substituted it for Kirsch (cherry brandy) when roasting the cherries for the brownies and as an appetizer that my daughter created. 
Ingredients:
  • 1 bag of spinach leaves with stems removed 
  • 3 large tomatoes, vine ripened, sliced and patted dry on a paper towel
  • torn basil leaves 
  • Parmesan cheese
  • sea salt and pepper
  • slices of mozzarella cheese,cut diagonally
Directions:
  • Arrange spinach leaves on bottom of platter.
  • On top of spinach place cheese and tomato slices.
  • Sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt and pepper and torn basil leaves.
  • Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and grate with Parmesan cheese.

Roasted Cherry Dark Chocolate Brownies
Cook's notes: recipe inspired by closetcooking.com
A good quality balsamic vinegar can be substituted for Kirsch. 
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups dark cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup Kirsch (cherry brandy) or a high quality balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 4 oz. dark or bittersweet baking chocolate bar (66% cacao) coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar  
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 TB. Kirsch
Directions;
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Toss cherries with Kirsch or balsamic vinegar.
  • Roast cherries at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir once during roasting time.
  • Cool and halve cherries on a paper towel.
  • Melt chocolate and butter on low heat and whisk to blend.
  • In a bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt. 
  • Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Blend in chocolate, 1 TB Kirsch and fold into flour mixture with roasted cherries. Stir to blend.
  • Pour into a 8 x 8 greased pan, bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes or until a toothpick to the center comes out clean. 
Chocolate Frosting
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 TB. butter
  • 12 oz. package of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 2 TB. Amaretto
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • optional chopped pecans
Directions:
  • In a saucepan combine sugar, milk, chips and butter.
  • Bring to a boil stirring constantly and boil 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and beat in powdered sugar and Amaretto.
  • Cool frosting before spreading on brownies. 
Bruschetta
Ingredients:
  • diced tomatoes
  • Parmesan cheese
  • balsamic vinegar
  • torn basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • bread slices
Directions:
  • Brush each bread slice both sides with olive oil-toast at 400 degrees for 5 minutes a side.
  • Add chopped basil and diced tomatoes to each bread slice. 
  • Drizzle balsamic vinegar on top of the diced tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and Parmesan  cheese.
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