I've been having a love affair with cherries this summer. I've always loved fresh cherries, but I don't know what it is this year--the pregnancy cravings, the fact that they are so abundant and delicious this summer, or that they've been on sale for basically the last month and a half, but I can't get enough of them. And these bars do the very best thing with fresh cherries--add chocolate and a lovely gooey blondie base for an amazing twist on deconstructed and baked up chocolate covered cherry. The chocolate, the gooey blondie, the cherries: a trifecta of yum. It's a one bowl dessert that bakes up in no time and I will absolutely make these again. If nothing more than an excuse to by more cherries. Now you know I'm not a big fruit in my dessert girl, especially fresh fruit (compared to dried) or anything pie-like. But I was headed to see my uncle and aunt, Bud and Sandy, and wanted to take something a little different but still sweet and delicious. This was both and more.
Bud really loved my Cranberry Apricot Bars, so I figured something with a little fruit would be a hit. I have pinned this recipe from Averie Cooks a while back and it was just what I needed. I sliced the cherries with a paring knife, popped out the seed and quartered them, which actually took less time than I expected (and didn't completely turn my fingers purple either--surprise!). I went with slightly smaller cherry pieces than Averie because of my fresh fruit/baked good weirdness, but I liked it. Dave thought they needed more cherries, but I think they just weren't evenly distributed enough so just his bar was lacking (but a few more cherries never hurt anyone--except my friend who has an allergy, but I digress). Bottom line: if you have a love affair with cherries but an aversion to fruit in your sweet desserts, you will probably like these bars anyway. Seriously. And if you aren't as neurotic about where your fruit belongs, you'll still like these bars.
Cherry Chocolate Blondies
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup cherries, pitted and quartered
In a large bowl, whisk together butter and brown sugar until combined.
Whisk in egg, then vanilla, until mixture is smooth.
Stir in the flour and salt until just incorporated. Some streaks of flour may still remain at this point.
With a large spatula, fold in chocolate chips and cherries to distribute throughout, but take care not to overwork the batter.
Turn batter out into a lightly greased 8 x 8 inch pan and smooth to an even layer.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 27-35 minutes (Note: Averie's recipe was the low end, my version was more like 32-35, but still with a nice gooey, not crunchy result. Start checking yours for doneness at 27 minutes and adjust from there based on your oven and the amount of juice in your cherries.) Blondies should be set in the middle and just starting to get crisp at the edges.
Remove from oven and cool in pan on a wire rack for at least an hour before cutting into bars.
Makes 9 (generously sized) bars.
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