The most exciting thing about the U.S. team is its coach: Jürgen Klinsman, the former German national coach, who played for Tottenham and Stuttgart and hails from a small town near where I grew up.
Klinsi is the perfect representative of my region in that he embodies the pragmatism we are known for: despite working as a professional footballer for one of the major teams in the country, his father still expected him to complete his apprenticeship in the family bakery, in order to have a decent job once his footballing career was over. On another level. despite having lived in Italy, England and the U.S. he still speaks with the strong regional accent that makes us the butt of many jokes. And although we don’t seem to be able to lose it, at least we can laugh about it: a few years back the region started an advertising campaign featuring local businesses like Mercedes, Porsche, Bosch etc, followed by the slogan ‘we’re good at everything, except speaking German’.
During the run up to the 1996 European Cup, the biggest German tabloid, ‘Bild’, approached Klinsmann to cooperate with them, to which he responded, very publicly, that as he didn’t read such drivel he’d most certainly not write it. Needless to say, they weren’t pleased and took revenge by constantly rubbishing him throughout the campaign. You have to admire them, in a way, for managing to consistently undermine and question him throughout that tournament, regardless of the fact that he ended up Germany’s top goalscorer. That’s dedication. After that, I even forgave Klinsi his switch to Bayern München, Stuttgart’s South German arch-enemy.
In order to represent the U.S. team and its coach I will therefore present you with a cross between brownies and, well, Black Forest gateau. Give it a try if you can get hold of morello cherries in syrup (Polish shops and Lidl stock them). If fusion food isn’t your thing, leave them out and reduce the baking time by 5 minutes. The following recipe started out as a double chocolate brownies recipe in the River Cottage Family Cookbook, but I adjusted the quantities to adapt the recipe to the fact that chocolate comes in 100g packs and I can’t stand the crumbling half-used packs at the back of my cupboards and the only other way to fight that is by finishing them off on the spot…
Cherry Chocolate Brownies
- 200g chocolate
- 189g butter
- 180g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 100g plain flour
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 jar cherries in syrup, drained
Preheat your oven to 160C and line a 20cm square cake tin with parchment paper. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bain marie.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the sugar with the eggs until it becomes thick and creamy. Blend in the melted chocolate and butter before adding the cocoa powder and finally the flour.
With a spatula, spread out roughly 1/3 of the mix in your tin before adding the cherries and spreading them out evenly: I like to get them into the middle of the brownies, rather than getting a soggy base or a wobbly surface. Cover with the remaining mix and put the tin into the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
The brownies are meant to look lightly unfinished and soft! Leave to cool before removing them from the tin and cutting them into bitesize pieces. The fruity sourness of the cherries contrasts brilliantly with the bitter note of the cocoa, making this a very adult treat that works perfectly with an americano or espresso.