Fresh Cherry Blondies
While serving as the 2018 Linden Cherry Festival Queen I judged the Cherry Bake-off. One entry introduced me to the idea of using fresh cherries inside of a traditional blondie. What I love about this take on a classic treat is the fresh fruit. I have started adding cherries and blueberries to my chocolate brownies even.
Some of the most common cherry varieties grown are Bing, Royal Ann and Rainier. Bings are dark red and are ripe towards the end of the season. In my opinion, they are best for baking because the sugar is so concentrated. They hardly need additional sugar in recipes such as crisp or cobbler. Royal Ann and Rainier cherries are white with red pigmentation disbursed throughout the outer skin of the fruit. These are best eaten fresh.
For the Fresh Cherry Blondie recipe I recommend any red cherry. To pit the fruit you can use a machine/tool, however, I have found that it becomes difficult with large cherries. Some people place the cherry on the opening of a soda bottle and use a straw to pit the cherry. Or, you could cut the cherry in half and remove the pit by hand.
When cherries enter into a packing and processing facility they are immediately hydro cooled through the use of cold water. Bringing the temperature down helps to maintain a long shelf life and maintain the quality of the fruit. Optical sorters and sizers adorned with near inferred and high quality cameras take, on average, 30 photos of each cherry.
Computers within the machine determine the size, color, and quality of the fruit then, sort it accordingly. A team of employees double checks the work of the machine to ensure a quality product.
For best quality, store cherries in the refrigerator as soon as you get them home from the store or fruit stand. Leave the stems on, too. It is just another way of maintaining freshness of the product.
Fresh Cherry Blondies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup fresh cherries pitted
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8” x 8” baking dish with aluminum foil and grease. Set aside.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter. To the butter add brown sugar, egg, and vanilla extract, whisking to combine.
Stir in flour and salt carefully ensuring not to over-mix the batter. Fold in chocolate chips and cherries.
Transfer batter to the prepared baking dish. Bake for 27 to 32 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center is set.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.