A while back, I ran across a recipe for strawberry brownies. I was very excited at first, because they were a pretty pink color- but my excitement faded when I discovered that the recipe achieved the pink color and “strawberry” flavor from a strawberry cake mix. Cake mixes have their place, but I’d much rather get my strawberry flavor from a real strawberry.
I had other projects to conquer, though, so I ended up shelving the idea of strawberry brownies for a while. As Valentine’s Day approached, I started thinking about it again. I had just purchased a nifty Wilton 6-Cavity Silicone Heart Mold Pan and was dying to put it to use.
Starting from my favorite white chocolate brownie recipe, I thought about how to get real strawberry flavor into the brownies without causing any of the following problems:
- Too much water from fresh strawberries or strawberry puree would cause cakiness.
- Adding strawberry jam would throw off the sugar ratio and might also cause cakiness.
- Dried strawberries would taste too gummy.
Artificial flavor was not an option. Liqueur could add some berry flavor, but it wasn’t what I was going for. Inspiration finally struck on a chance visit to a health food store that carried freeze-dried strawberries. Freeze-dried strawberries contain almost no moisture, and could be pulverized into a powder that would be easy to add to the batter. I bought a bag and brought it home.
The experiment worked quite well. The strawberry flavor is truly intense! I wish it had made the brownies more pink, but instead they turned out sort of mauve, especially on the inside. These are very sweet, very fruity, and have a true brownie texture. They would make a fantastic Valentine’s Day treat!
White Chocolate Strawberry Brownies
- 2 cups freeze-dried strawberries
- 8 oz white chocolate made with cocoa butter, not vegetable oils, broken or chopped in pieces
- 6 TB unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup all purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare an 8 inch square pan by lining it with parchment paper or foil. If you are using silicone heart mold trays, spray lightly with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet.
Place the strawberries in a food processor and process until they are a fine powder. If you do not have a food processor, place them in a sealed plastic bag and crush with a mallet as fine as possible.
Place the butter in a small pot on the stovetop and melt on low to medium heat. Add the strawberry powder and stir. It will form a sticky red mass that resembles jam. Add the white chocolate and stir until it is almost melted, then remove the pot from the heat and continue stirring until the chocolate is completely melted.
Put the sugar in a large bowl. Stir the warm mixture into the sugar until combined. Add salt and stir again. Add the eggs and stir until combined; batter will look slightly curdled.
Sprinkle the flour over the batter and stir together until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan or molds and smooth out the top.
Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes if using an 8-inch square pan, or about 20 minutes if using molds. Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs but no wet batter on it.
Let cool in the pan or molds for 15 minutes. If using an 8-inch square pan, lift the brownies out using the liner and allow to cool completely. If using molds, gently invert the molds over a rack and tap gently to release each brownie. Set each brownie upright and allow to cool completely.
If you use 6-heart silicone molds, this will fill approximately 8 or 9 hearts, so you will need 2 molds.
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