Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Cake Squares

Chocolate Cherry Cake Squares

The saying goes that everything worthwhile gets better with age: cheese, wine and women (this is coming from someone who turns 30 in about a week.) Epicurious added one more to the list: chocolate cherry cake squares. Day 1? So-so. Day 2? Better. Day 3? Omigosh give me another bite.

Chocolate Cherry Cake Squares

Summer is the time for cherries, and no matter where you live you're probably seeing them pop up in grocery stores, spilling over bag tops on displays or their stems tangling in a mess of farm-fresh goodness at farmers markets. And wherever you're seeing them they're calling out to you; that siren song of sweet, summer goodness draws you in, and before you know it there are two pounds of them on your kitchen counter. Now what to do with them? There are always the quintessential summer desserts: cobblers, ice cream and pie, but if you're like me you wanted to do these beauties one better. You want to introduce them to chocolate.

As always I heeded the calls of the recipe reviewers: Use less sugar! Adjust your baking time! Wait a few days to eat them! These calls to action are always warranted, and I followed their advice, which gave way to perfection. We ate these treats with a side of vanilla ice cream. We enjoyed every bite. And we loved being a part of the perfect dance that is chocolate and cherry.

Chocolate Cherry Cake Squares

Chocolate Cherry Cake Squares
Adapted from epicurious
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Ingredients
3 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) pitted sweet cherries
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water, boiling hot
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed, dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Confectioners sugar to garnish

Directions
1. Toss fresh or frozen cherries and any juices with granulated sugar and almond extract in a bowl and let stand at least 2 hours. Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup cherry juices.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 metal baking pan with oil and flour. Whisk water and cocoa in a bowl until smooth, then add reserved juice and vanilla.
3. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into another bowl.
4. Beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture alternately in batches, mixing at low speed until blended.
5. Fold in cherries and chocolate chips and pour batter into pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean (Baked mine about 45 minutes.) Cool cake completely in pan on a rack, then cut into squares. Just before serving, dust with confectioners sugar.

* These are very moist cake squares; it is best to store them in the refrigerator to prevent molding.