Leave it to The Nibble to keep track of all the esoteric food holidays. Today is National Cherry Dessert Day, and it couldn't come fast enough for me. There were some great cherries available over Memorial Day weekend at markets and road-side stalls, and there's a Farmer's Market in Berkeley today.
Chocolate and cherries are the perfect match. The flavors work so well together. The obvious cherry/chocolate dessert is Black Forest Cake, but I've never made it with fresh cherries. I have lots of recipes that call for cherry pie-filling, but with fresh cherries you know what you're getting.
Just as you'll want to have the sweetest best cherries, you'll want to choose the very best chocolate. Ghiradelli and Guittard both have great baking chips, and you can also break up most bars into small pieces for the same effect.
Here's a fabulous recipe from Associated Content for Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes. This is a real crowd pleaser. I just love these cupcakes.
1 stick of butter
9 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
14-16 ounces of cherries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line the cupcake pan. This recipe makes one dozen cupcakes. Melt the chocolate chips and butter together. This can be done on the stove top, or in the microwave on low heat in thirty second intervals. Keep stirring until smooth. Beat in the sugar, vanilla and eggs until glossy. Stir in the flour until just mixed - don't keep pounding away at the batter.
Put a spoon full of batter in each cupcake wrapper. Then drop in about ten chocolate chips and three cherries. Cover them up with the remaining batter and toss them in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, until tops appeared to be puffy and cracking. They can go as long as twenty five minutes, but it is better to undercook than overcook.
The cake has a nice crumb, not too moist and not too dry. The best part is the chocolate chips that melt around the cherries, becoming a truffle like center. Cupcakes are delicious on their own, or can be frosted.
Cherry Buttercream Frosting
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
4 tablespoons cherry juice
Cream the butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl. Add two tablespoons of cherry juice. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Keep beating at a medium speed. During this process, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Once all of the sugar is incorporated, add the remaining two tablespoons of cherry juice. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Frost the cupcakes after they have cooled. Decorate with cherries on top, or chocolate chips.
The recipe above is fabulous and easy, but if you only have a few minutes, here's an easy brownie recipe, and you can still celebrate National Cherry Dessert Day --with chocolate.
Fresh Cherry Brownies
1 package brownie mix
1 c. fresh cherries, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Combine the brownie mix, cherries, oil and egg. Pour into greased pan. Bake at 350 for 30-50 minutes (test with toothpick).
If you have more time, you can always use your favorite brownie recipe and add chopped pitted cherries. Take care to adjust for liquid from the cherries.
Have a great Cherry Dessert Day!!!