Chocolate and Cherries

choccherry_brownies_007.jpgMy grandma's favorite gift was a box of chocolate covered cherries. I can still see her biting into the first one she picked from the box my uncle would bring her from Walgreen's Drugstore in Chicago. The liquid insides would ooze out and drip down her chin. She'd smile and her eyes would sparkle with delight. I never did grow fond of the chocolate-cherry treats that would bring her such glee. Even as a child, they were just too sweet for my liking.

I've never really developed an appreciation for the combination of chocolate and cherries. Rich, creamy chocolate -- yes. Sweet-tart juicy cherries -- yes. But together in one bite? No.

Despite my dislike for the marriage of chocolate and cherries in anything edible, each February since I was old enough to read a recipe, I've been baking a chocolate and cherry treat to celebrate the month that claims Valentine's Day and George Washington's birthday. These two days make February a time to hail chocolate and observe National Cherry Month.

Chocolate-Cherry Brownies was one recipe I'd make each February. It became one of my Dad's favorites. I've tossed many choco-cherry recipes over the years, but this has remained in my recipe box. When I make it around Valentine's Day, I cut the pan of brownies into heart shapes using a cookie cutter. Something chocolate that's shaped like a Valentine heart can taste good even if it does have bits of cherries in it.

And the fudge frosting my be the reason the recipe has stuck around for so long.


Chocolate-Cherry Brownies

1 (16-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained
2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup semisweet morsels
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons reserved cherry juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. Line with parchment, allowing enough of the paper so it comes up out of the sides of the pan. Butter the bottom of the parchment paper.

If you plan to use some cherries for garnish, reserve a few and set aside. Chop remaining cherries and set aside.

Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and add chocolate morsels. Stir mixture until chocolate is melted. Let cool slightly.

Sift flour, baking powdeer and salt into a bowl. Stir in oats.

Mix sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Add melted chocolate mixture and stir to blend. Add flour mixture to bowl. Use electric mixer at low speed, beating until blended.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. When completely cool, hold parchment paper and gently pull the brownies out of the pan. Place on work surface.

Pour fudge frosting over the brownies. Allow frosting to set at room temperature until firm.

When frosting is set, use cookie cutter to cut heart shapes from the frosted brownies. Garnish each heart with a cherry half, if desired. The brownies are good served with Sweet and Rummy Whipped Cream.

Fudge Frosting

* 6 tablespoons butter
* 6 tablespoons milk
* 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
* 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

Combine butter, milk and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate morsels. Beat with spoon until creamy. Pour over brownies and allow to set.


Sue Doeden is a popular cooking instructor, food writer and integrative nutrition health coach. She is the host of Good Food, Good Life 365 on Lakeland Public Television. Her own hives full of hardworking bees and her love of honey led to the creation of her recently published cookbook, Homemade with Honey.