Breakfast and Brunch, Dessert, Food

Cherry Cinnamon Pecan Brownies

Nicoletta January 8, 2016

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These brownies are moist and not too fudgy, a bit crunchy from the pecans and chewy from the dried cherry, rich in bittersweet chocolate and not too sweet.


Chocolate. Remedy for a downer mood. We tend to turn to chocolate when uncertainty, fear and anxiety set in. Its sweetness, a reminder of the good things in life. Something constant in an uncostant world.



I wasn’t one to love brownies. If they were the only dessert on a party tray, I would skip dessert, even if sweets are the thing I love most. I’ve always found them overly sugary, couldn’t stand eating a piece. But today it’s different: I like them and I’m eating them. After all, they’re chocolatey, with the cocoa and Bernard Callebaut melted chocolate. Plus, I found the recipe on “The Messy Baker” cookbook, and you all know how much I enjoyed reproducing recipes from this book.

But the real reason is that my husband loves them, and it gives me pleasure to bake something he likes.

I wanted to leave him something memorable, so yesterday I decided to bake Cherry Cinnamon Pecan Brownies.

I changed up a few things from the original recipe: I used a part of brown rice flour and two parts of all-purpose (I cannot hide my love for brown rice flour); I used half a cup of dried Rainier cherries that we bought at the Strathcona Farmers Market and half a cup of pecans. I flavored them with cinnamon and vanilla; I used almond milk, that is what I mostly drink, and coconut sugar, that is replacing ever so often the brown sugar in our pantry.


My mind was racing yesterday, I felt agitated and nervous, rushing and trying to do too many things at once. I went to jazzercise, but it didn’t help, it actually got worse, I got all wound up like an old spring-driven clock. I needed a diversion…

Baking relaxes me, measuring all the ingredients grounds me, mixing the components together keeps my mind occupied from too much thinking. It actually worked, for the time being.

They were not at all difficult to make, after I melted the chocolate in a bain-marie with the milk and butter, I mixed all the ingredients together and poured the batter in a lined square baking pan. Thirty five minutes in the preheated oven and voilà, the brownies were ready.


Taking the pictures distracted me some more, then, it was time to taste them. I simply removed two brownies from the stack of three you see in the picture below, sat down and enjoyed my first brownie with a big dollop of salted caramel ice cream. Great combination of flavors. My mind was at ease, finally!

The brownie was moist and dense, rich in bittersweet chocolate, and not too sweet or “fudgy” (my biggest fear). Crunchy from the pecans and a bit of chewy from the dried cherry pieces. Overall, a delectable, enjoyable sweet. I like that they are not so chewy that they form a glue in your mouth, they are perfectly balanced in texture between crumbly and fudged. My husband will be proud of me.


So why, you’re wondering, I was in the grip of anxiety attacks all day?

Well, today I am leaving Edmonton, Canada, to go back to Rome, Italy, to work. From today on, for the next three months and some, my husband will be at 5,120 miles flight distance, in some other world, to the other end of a telephone line. Loreto would say we’re not that far energetically speaking, and then give me that smile and hug that always make me feel better, and then the humor with him using his East Indian Sage voice explaining impermanence 🙂 .

So you see, it is a melancholy day, a day that requires chocolate and its soothing effect, and a reminder of Loreto’s love.

Song of the day: Simple Plan – I Don’t Wanna Go To Bed.

Recipe adapted from Charmian Christe’s cookbook “The Messy Baker”.

Cherry-cinnamon-pecan brownies

Cherry Cinnamon Pecan Brownies

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: about 20 squares 1x


  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour (or you can use all-purpose flour)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9″ x 9″ baking pan with an extra long piece of parchment paper. Coat with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate, milk and butter together on a bain-marie. Stir gently until all the ingredients are dissolved.
  3. Into a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, and baking powder. Add the cinnamon, salt, granulated sugar, brown (or coconut) sugar and stir until well blended.
  4. Add the cherries and pecans and toss to coat with the flour mixture. This way they won’t sink to the bottom while baking.
  5. Whisk the vanilla into the beaten eggs. Add to the melted chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan, pushing the batter to the edges and leveling the top.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center and the edges comes out clean.
  8. Allow the brownies to cool on a rack before removing them from the pan. Do not turn upside down.
  9. Leave the brownies in the foil and cut them into squares as needed.
  10. Serve with salted caramel (or vanilla) icecream, or with nothing else at all.


Leaving the pan of brownies intact as long as you can helps keep them moist.

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  • Avatar
    Reply carole January 8, 2016 at 6:56 am

    wow, those would certainly cheer me up – delicious!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 8, 2016 at 6:57 am

      Thanks Carole, they were reaaally good.

  • Avatar
    Reply Justine @ January 8, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Yummy! What an interesting and decadent combination of ingredients, Nicoletta. These brownies look delicious. 🙂 I wish you all the best in Rome, and hope you feel better. I’m actually going through something similar right now — it was comforting to read your post. Have a great weekend!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 8, 2016 at 8:36 am

      Thanks! They were indeed delicious (and I’m not a brownie lover 🙂 ). I’m leaving for the airport right now, you know, feel like I’m on a roller coaster, every year it’s the same… All the best to you too!

  • Avatar
    Reply Louisa [Living Lou] January 8, 2016 at 8:06 am

    I always find baking to be such a distraction because you have to be so focused on the task at hand if you want it turn out perfectly. I too have found myself feeling restless this January (nothing to do with a big move though!), I think just the end of the holidays and the January blues. Best of luck to you over the next three months in Italy!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 8, 2016 at 8:39 am

      I find baking so soothing and calming… Yes, definitely restless this january. I enjoyed your post! Thank you, I’ll keep you all posted from Italy in the next little while… 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply Bernice January 8, 2016 at 11:24 am

    oh wow Nicoletta!! These looks so perfectly decadent…great post!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 8, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      Thank you Bernice! They were rich and decadent. The use of a great chocolate bar (70% cocoa) helped a lot!

  • Avatar
    Reply Justine @ January 8, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Safe travels! Ciao bella. 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 9, 2016 at 11:46 pm

      Thanks! Ciao Justine! 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply karrie @ Tasty Ever After January 8, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    I’m so in love with this recipe, I can’t stand it!! It’s so perfect and I’m excited to see the coconut sugar sub for the brown sugar! Yay!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 9, 2016 at 11:42 pm

      Thanks Karrie! Sorry that you’re going to break you sugar-free diet 🙂 . Anyway, if that helps, they’re not at all sweet, with the bittersweet chocolate and coconut sugar. We use coconut sugar a lot: in coffee, tea, in baking…it’s less sweet and with an intense flavor. Hope you like the brownies!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jared @thehesitantchef January 8, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    yes. yes. YES! Great pictures of what looks like a great recipe! I want one.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 9, 2016 at 11:46 pm

      Thanks Jared, hope we had a “share a brownie” button 🙂 . “The Messy Baker” cookbook has all great recipes. I’ve just changed up a few things that work for us. They were really good!

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