May 1, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Bars

I have limited baking ingredients on hand, so I had to really scrounge for a "cookie" recipe today. After checking all the usual recipe spots, I finally went to the Hershey's website to see if they had anything interesting. The major ingredient I had in my pantry was Hershey's Cocoa Powder. I was dying for something chocolaty, but I didn't have any chocolate chips on hand. I needed a chocolate recipe that used the powder and not the chips. Combined with all the other ingredients that I either did or did not have, this was actually quite a challenge. Finally, I found this recipe. These bars sounded really good, and I pretty much had all the items needed to make them. Thankfully, the major component in these bars was the cocoa powder and I could make substitutions for the ingredients I did not have. For example, I didn't have mini-kiss pieces and I didn't have maraschino cherries; so creative baking was definitely in order. I ended up using dried, sweet & tart cherries, in place of the maraschinos, and leftover, pastel-colored, M & M's from Easter, instead of the mini-kisses. What can I say...I am resourceful. Hopefully, these bars will still turn out yummy!

Chocolate Cherry Bars
Adapted from: Hershey's Kitchens: Recipes

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa Powder
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup HERSHEY'S MINI KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates (OR substitute M & M's)
1 cup chopped maraschino cherries, drained (OR substitute dried cherries)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Generously grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat; stir in cocoa until smooth. Remove from heat. Add sugar, 3 eggs, 1-1/2 cups flour and almonds; mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining 1 egg, remaining 1/3 cup flour, sweetened condensed milk and almond extract. Pour over baked layer; sprinkle chocolates and cherries over top. Return to oven.

4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until set and edges are golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate until cold, 6 hours or overnight. Cut into bars. Cover; refrigerate leftover bars. About 48 bars.

The Result:
These are basically brownies. Yummy, almond-y, cherry brownies...but brownies. These are really good, and I totally loved the almond/chocolate/cherry combo. Delish! The added M & M's don't bring a whole lot to the party, so next time I think I will add chocolate chips and extra dried cherries. (I definitely think the dried sweet & tart cherries are the way to go with this recipe.) This was an easy dessert to make, and it turned out really good. I will add these bars to my 'keeper' file, for sure!

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