January 3rd is National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day- did you know this was even a thing? Or how I even know it’s a thing to know about? Some background here would help- my resolution this year was to be more organized and prepared, especially in regards for creating recipes for this blog. I have so many recipes I didn’t get a chance to jot down/test/photograph/write up this past six months, especially during the holiday season. The thing I didn’t realize when starting this site was the amount of prep work that goes into each and every post. You need to first have the idea for the recipe, then test the recipe *multiple times* so it’s repeatable and error-free, then you must photograph it perfectly in the best lighting, AND write a whole article with backstory, etc. All of which, as you might imagine, require an immense amount of work prior to the actual day in which it’s posted. Now if I’m being honest I really enjoy all the behind-the-scenes work. I love researching the history of a dish, or experimenting with multiple variations of a recipe or different shots of the food. It actually is quite cathartic for me- when I’m not rushed and trying to juggle a full-time job, a hour-and-a-half to two hour commute every day and just being an otherwise productive human being. Which to be clear, I’m not complaining about- I’m like every other person in the world and I know and realize that life’s a balancing act for all of us. But when I’m running around the house the day before a holiday or deadline trying to get a shot of something or write up an article about something else, not only am I too stressed to be present in life but I’m not enjoying the thing that’s supposed to be my stress-reliever. And let face it- that’s just not a realistic plan for long-term success, personal happiness, or productive longevity when it comes to any venture, in business or in life. WHAT RESISTS, PERSISTS.
ENTER: Organization! I’ve been reading several great books, researching blogging productivity articles and listening to entrepreneurial, culinary and blogging podcasts on my drive to and from work every day for almost six months straight now, and I’ve picked up a few ideas I feel are worth pursuing. The first of which is having a monthly editorial organizer of sorts for post inspiration that so far include things like: recipe planning, collaborations, themes, upcoming holidays, sponsored posts, birthdays, webinars, workshops, seasons, etc. Which is how I somehow stumbled upon a National Food Day Calendar, which has been great for general food inspiration. National Pie Day? (I’m not mad at that.) World Nutella Day? (Ohhhhh yeahhhhhhhh). National Vodka Day? (They spelled today wrong.)
Then things got weird, guys. There’s National Scotch Day (7/27- Please don’t tell my husband.) Oh, and upsettingly specific days like National Snack A Pickle Time (9/13), National Chop Suey Day (8/29), and National Scrapple Day (11/9). Do you even KNOW what Scrapple is? No… Just…NO. The oddest one is National Haunted Refrigerator Night, which falls on the day before Halloween. It’s apparently the day you completely clean out any and all food that’s died and is still haunting your refrigerator. I’d love to see the meeting that happened when some poor guy had to pitch this idea to whoever had to make this official. Sigh. So in keeping somewhat with this National Food Day Theme, I highlighted a few each month that I thought would be fun and fitting to whatever time of the year it was. And seeing as January is usually freezing (At least here in the Midwest. Our HIGH yesterday was 1 degree. ONE.) It’s a great time for warm, cozy comfort foods and for me that usually involves either cheese or chocolate. So from National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day emerged this idea for Chocolate Covered Cherry Brownies. I used a jar of Amarena Cherries I bought the other day from Trader Joe’s- they’re a dark, sour Italian cherry that has this distinctive bitter note to them. I felt like it paired really well with this brownie, like the way bitter coffee pairs so well with chocolate.
You certainly don’t have to use this kind of cherry- it was just what I had on hand – Luxardo Cherries would be divine in this brownie. Mmmm. I’d just avoid using those overly cheesy, fluorescent red jarred fake “maraschino cherries” from the grocery store bar aisle. They’re too artificially sweet for this application (or ANY, for that matter) and would get lost in the chocolatey goodness. Of course, fresh pitted cherries are a no-brainer if they’re in season when you’re making this, but frozen cherries that are thawed would also work great here. By the way- why is the cherry-themed dessert day chosen when cherries are NOT in season? And to answer the question I know you’re going to ask me next- NO, National Cherry Pie Day is not in June or July- it’s next month. And Strawberry Day, the quintessential fruit spokesperson of hot summer days? Oh, that’s in February. Is that disappointing to anyone else but me?
Regardless of the time of the year you choose to make these, they will be a delicious new twist on a classic recipe. You can also sub out whatever your favorite chocolate-covered fruit may be. I advised adding the cherries on top the batter without mixing them in here purely for presentation purposes, well and to keep the cherries in tact. But I think it looks cool when you can see the cherries peeking out on top, don’t you?
And Happy New Year! No matter what your resolution is for the upcoming trip around the sun, remember that what got you to where you are won’t get you to where you want to be. Sometimes you have to take risks, sacrifice small wins to achieve larger ones, and challenge yourself to find new ways to keep creative.
You know, like National Something-On-A-Stick Day.
(March 28th, if you’re wondering.)
Milk Chocolate Brownies with Amarena Cherries
Yield: 16 Brownies, if using an 8 x 8 pan
½ C. AP Flour
¼ C. Cocoa Powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
½ C. Unsalted butter, melted
¼ C. Vegetable Oil
2 large eggs
1 ½ C. White Granulated Sugar
2 tbsp of cherry liquid ( cherries are jarred in or the melted residual cherry pulp works too!)
1 tsp almond extract
½ C. Milk Chocolate Chips
8-10 whole Amarena Cherries, cut in half
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray your 8x8 baking pan with non-stick spray.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder) and whisk to combine. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, melted butter, oil, almond extract and cherry liquid until fully incorporated.
Combine the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until JUST combined- Don’t overmix!
Mix in the chocolate chunks gently to equally disperse them.
Pour batter into your pan and spread the top evenly. Then scatter your cherry halves over the top, without pushing them into the batter.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean
Allow to cool and enjoy!