You’ve got your cherries in my chocolate: Cherry Almond Brownies

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Ah, the brownie – considered by many to be the perfect treat. Rich, tender, and delightfully chocolate-y, there aren’t many ways to improve on a brownie, unless it’s to add two kinds of cherries; almonds; plus chunks of chocolate; then coat bite-sized pieces in chocolate, and add fun decorations. The perfect portion with a touch of whimsy. Now that’s a BROWNIE!

One of the most frequent things we hear working as bakers and King Arthur Flour employees is “OH, how I wish I had your job!”  followed closely by “OH, I would gain so much weight if I worked there!” As a self-proclaimed Short Fat Fanny, I love to tell folks about how much I love working here, and that I was a size 4 when I started working at KAF. Honestly, I haven’t been a size 4 since before high school, but with such talented bakers producing copious amounts of goodies on a weekly basis, there’s definitely a risk of (ahem) “expanding your horizons” at work.

Here at King Arthur, we definitely have access to a plethora of sumptuous treats, but we also have excellent access to a myriad of ways to live a healthy lifestyle, too. All employees have access to yoga and Pilates classes, and walking during lunch break is definitely encouraged on the KAF-sponsored walking trails nearby.

We even have a health fair every year with exhibitors and booths on topics like weight loss, sleep management, blood pressure and vision screenings, and the ever-popular stress relief (yes, it includes a foot massage!).  So while we do make, bake, and eat, we also bend, stretch, and walk off those pounds when we need to, with the full support of our fellow employee-owners.

One great way to keep a handle on your love handles is portion control. These bite-sized brownies with their whimsical toppers satisfy in so many ways that you won’t miss the bigger portions. These are also perfect for taking to dinner as a hostess gift, or sending to the classroom party (just use juice instead of liquor to soak the cherries ). The best part is that they look so fancy everyone will think you spent hours making them, and only you need know how easy they really are.

Ready to start? Let’s make Cherry Almond Brownies.

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Preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare a 8″ x 8″ pan by spritzing with cooking spray. Lay a piece of parchment paper in the pan that’s cut to fit the width of the pan, and is slightly longer on the ends. (I confess, the photo is a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ pan. I realized it right after the fact and switched pans)

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Think of this as a lifting sling for the finished brownies. Spritz the parchment with cooking spray as well.

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Next, chop the dried sweet cherries. You still want some texture from these cherries, as well as taste, so a rough chop is best. The finished pieces should be about the size of raisins.

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Place the cherries in a microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle with your choice of liquid. I’m a big fan of Amaretto, so that’s what I used here.

Do you have to use liquor in the recipe? NO, not at all. You can use fruit juice or even water; you just need some liquid to re-hydrate the cherries a bit.

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Microwave the cherries for 45 seconds. Set aside to cool.

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Melt the unsweetened baking chocolate and butter in the microwave or on the stovetop. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the melted butter, chocolate, sugar, and salt until all is smooth and no chunks of chocolate remain. This may take a few minutes, due to that whole “oil and water don’t mix” thing, but it will smooth out.

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Add the eggs, and then the dry ingredients. Mix until well blended.

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Ohhh, ahhh, brownie batter. After you lick that little bit off your finger (aawh, come on, you know you’re gonna do it! ), it’s time to get the rest of the add-ins into the batter.

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Add the cooled soaked cherries, the candied cherries, the chocolate chunks and the almonds. It looks like a lot of “stuff” to add in, but it will incorporate into the batter just fine. Trust me, I’m a doctor baker.

Pour the batter into the prepared 8″ x 8″ pan  and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. The brownies are done when the kitchen smells of chocolate, the edges of the brownies have begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center only has a few moist crumbs on it.

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Loosen the sides of the brownies with a bench knife or flexible spreader. Let the brownies set for 5-10 minutes, then remove from the pan using your parchment sling.

Now, you have a choice here. If you just want to serve the brownies without the chocolate coating, you can let them cool a bit more and serve away. A scoop of vanilla ice cream would be a heavenly addition.

If you DO want to do the chocolate coating step, I highly recommend chilling the brownies in the fridge for several hours or overnight, or in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. This will firm the brownies and allow you to make straight, even cuts with very smooth sides. Let me show you what I mean.

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The left side of this piece was cut after chilling, while the right side was cut before chilling. See how much smoother the chilled side is?  I know, it’s not a big deal, but if you want those “beauty shot” perfect brownies, this is a big help. So let’s get ready to dip these beauties.

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You’ll want to set up a drip tray to catch any drips of melted chocolate as the brownie bites set. A cooling rack over a parchment-lined baking sheet is ideal.

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(I know, it’s a cruel picture, isn’t it? All that chocolate and you can’t reach it! I’m sorry, I really am.)

Our new coating chocolate melts beautifully. It’s silky smooth without any off or waxy flavors that you can sometimes get with coating chocolates.

I like to melt several bowls of chocolate in a low oven (150°F-200°F). Just place your bowls on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven until melted. Be SURE the oven is preheated, or…

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…the high heat of the preheat cycle can really do a number on your chocolate. No, these aren’t toasted marshmallows, they’re white chocolate coating disks. Lesson learned.

If you prefer to microwave the coating chocolate, use short bursts of power, about 15 seconds or so, and stir well between bursts until melted.

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Here’s my favorite chocolate dipping tool. A plain plastic fork with the center two tines removed. It’s sturdy, reusable, and cheap!

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Place a brownie into the chocolate and use a spoon to scoop the chocolate until the bite is completely coated.

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Lift the brownie up with your fork/tool and let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.

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Place the coated brownie on the drip tray and add your sprinkles and decorations while the chocolate is still soft and not set.

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To get the sugar decorations to stand up a bit off of the top of the brownie, just hold the deco by the top until the chocolate is a bit set. This only takes a minute or so. Think about your favorite vacation or a friend you appreciate while you wait.

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My absolute favorite sugar deco this season are these eyes. I have a large collection of google eyes at home, and these just make me smile every time. Here you can place the eyes on the side of the brownie to start a little critter action.

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Use a regular fork dipped in another chocolate to add some fur to your creepy critter.

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Perfectly spooky for your Halloween buffet! The cupcake paper makes a pretty and portable presentation.

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Have fun trying different decorations on each brownie, and enjoy each rich chocolate bite with the added surprise of sweet and tangy cherries. That’s the boo-tiful thing about these tasty treats!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Cherry Almond Brownies.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Lish

    I love chunky brownies, and I often add all kinds of add ins to my usual brownie recipe. This recipe sounds so easy and fudgy and wonderful that I think we must have brownies this weekend. My kids would love to help decorate chocolate dipped cubes. And how did you know I needed chocolate? I have been baking lots of apple, pumpkin, pear stuff. Really needed some chocolate! Thanks for a great looking new recipe!
    Hi Lish,
    Great minds think alike! Have a fun weekend with the kiddos. Send pics if you want, I ‘d love to see them! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Amanda

    Those are so cute! I love the additional of cherries and almonds, two of my favorite flavors :) mmmmmm. I made some dipped brownie bites last year too. Love your fork tool, very smart!
    Hi Amanda,
    These are so delicious, just like a chocolate covered cherry. Enjoy! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. Dorothy

    Chocolate and cherries? Love it! The eyes are a wonderful idea! Now I know what else I can use my big box of royal icing eyes for (been using them for cut-out sugar cookies at Halloween).

    It’s nice to hear that KAF promotes healthy living; I wish MY workplace had a walking trail nearby (or that I didn’t live in the killer Louisiana heat!). Makes me even more jealous of you guys!
    Hi Dorothy,
    Looks like you have to come visit us in Vermont. :). Glad you have another use for icing eyes now. Have fun! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. Joni M

    oh my–those sugar googley eyes are just too cute!!! Even my big kids would love those critters, not to mention all the little kids in the neighborhood! hummm, going to be busy in the kitchen this weekend! Thanks again for such a wonderful sounding recipe!!!
    Have a great time Joni. Everyone got a kick out of the brownie buddy here, so I’m sure you will have lots of fans! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. kate

    ooh i will SO be making these! so easy! thanks for thinking of these easy transformations!!! my son will love to lick, i mean, decorate the little tiny brownie bites! (he’s only 3 and already a huge fan of baking. mostly for the chocolate chips. apparently they belong in ALL baked goods!)

    Reply
  6. Cynthia Kershner

    Oh my! You’ve given new meaning to the descriptive “fork lift.”! I made your whole wheat brownies last night and dumped a cup of cherries in… chocolate and cherries is … dare I utter such a heresy? … even better than chocolate and peanut butter!
    Whaa haaa haaa, “fork lift” too funny! Thanks for the giggle Cynthia! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. vel

    and like this article doesn’t make all of us want to work at KA even more. Ah, for more intelligent companies like KA.

    Reply
  8. kendra

    hmm… i wonder how it would be with dried sweetened cranberries! my dad used to just throw cranberries and nuts into brownie mix and it would be pretty yummy. but this recipe sounds truely delicious!
    Sure, Kendra, give it a try. Let us know how it goes. :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. Sandy Patterson

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! How did you so neatly cover one-half of the tiny piece of brownie with the dark chocolate? I like the look of some sprinkles on just that one diagonal side.
    Hi Sandy,
    For covering just half of the brownie, turn the square piece of brownie diagonally and hold it as you dip it into the melted chocolate. A little more time consuming, but big on the WOW factor. Have fun! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  10. daria

    Yum!!

    Oh, and googley-eyes and jimmies = hedgehog or porcupine.
    Daria, what a fantastic idea! You could cut the baked brownies with round cutters instead of squares, or roll brownie balls. Man, I have GOT to try that! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  11. Jamie

    I don’t have a microwave, so what would I do with the cherries and liquor or juice? Could I do it on the stove, or does it not really need to be warmed? These sound so good! Thanks!
    Jamie

    You can rehydrate the dried cherries by pouring the hot liquid (using the stove to heat) over the cherries and letting them soak up the goodness for 15 minutes. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  12. Linda

    I would think you could do mini muffin size (those silicone mini-muffin pans work great here) and pop them out after they cool and turn them upside down to have your body for the hedgehog. Dip in chocolate as you did the squares and add the jimmies and google-eyes before they cool completely. Great ideas!!

    Reply
  13. Kimberly D

    Place the cherries in a microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle with your choice of liquid. How else can you rehydrate the cherries? I don’t have a microwave, mine went up and I have never replaced it. I fine I don’t miss it that much.
    HI Kimberly,
    Great question. We are so used to microwaves these days, we forget what we used to do before them! You can heat the liquid on the stovetop in a saucepan, and then pour it over the cherries in a heat proof bowl for the same results. Enjoy the brownies! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. Cheryl in GA

    These look awesome! I was searching for a recipe with chocolate and cherries, as I received a wonderful gift, not one but TWO jars of Griottines cherries soaked in Kirsch! I’m thinking something along the lines of black forest cake or trifle or brownie?? Hmmm… any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
    Hi Cheryl,
    Black forest cake or black forest brownies sound terrific. Let us know how it goes. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  15. Karen

    These sound fantastic (well, except for the candied cherries. I think I’d go with all dried.) and look great.

    I’ve got a couple questions after looking at the recipe link. I’d like to use the added milk in the dipping chocolate. Would the inevitable leftovers keep well and, if so, how should it be stored? Does the added milk mean I’d have to refrigerate my brownies after dipping? I’m guessing not, but since I’m asking something else…
    Frank used this formula in a production setting so there was never any left over. It will keep in your refrigerator for up to 7 days. The brownies may be stored at room temperature 3-4 days, in the fridge about 10 days, in the freezer up to 30 days. Joan@bakershotline

    Reply
  16. Lea

    These are adorable Halloween treats! I especially like the “critter” idea and the hedgehog idea. If a round shape is desired, Wilton makes a silicone brownie mold that would work perfectly. I’ve made the brownie “pops” but they would be awfully cute without, too.
    Thanks for the great ideas and recipes. You sure are keeping me busy in the kitchen!!!

    Reply
  17. Marsha

    I just finished making these to take to a luncheon tomorrow. Since it is so close to Halloween I decided that they would be a really cute thing to take. I had ordered the little eyes and the brownies turned out really well. Thank you for the fork lift idea. When I first saw it I thought how neat but I have a dipping fork so I won’t need it this time. I do have a dipping fork……somewhere. I searched the house over and no fork and so I used your idea and it worked like a charm. I may never find my metal dipping fork but it doesn’t matter; I always have plastic ones. I passed this neat idea on to my baking buddy. Thanks so much.
    Marsha, so glad to hear that the brownies came out well. I’m sure everyone at the luncheon will be delighted. Glad the fork idea worked for you too. I’m a big fan of plastic forks and sporks! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  18. Caroline

    These look delicious! I’m ready to start making them, but is it possible to use cocoa powder instead of the baking chocolate? Thank you!

    Yes, use 3 T. cocoa powder plus 1 T. butter or margarine as a substitution for each ounce or square of baking chocolate. You should still use the 1/2 cup of butter called for in the recipe. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  19. Caroline

    Thank you for the answer to my question above! Since this recipe calls for 3/4 cup of baking chocolate, would I convert that to 6 fl. ounces. (I wasn’t sure, since it’s not really a liquid measurement.)
    Hi Caroline,
    The measure for the chocolate is a dry measure, pre-melting, so you want to measure out the chocolate dry, and then melt.
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. serena

    I’ve made the brownies and I want to dip them but I do not have dipping chocolate. I was thinking about using a chocolate ganache but I wasn’t sure if it would set enough. Can you think of alternatives to dipping chocolate? or a recipe?
    Hi Serena,
    Yes, you can use ganache but you are correct that it doesn’t set up as firmly. The brownies will still be fine though. You may also want to check your local craft and party stores, in the cake decorating sections. They often have chocolate discs that are appropriate for dipping. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  21. Victoria

    I made these and they are heavenly! I need to (quickly) find out how to freeze these brownies. I want to add them to cookie trays in 2 weeks but if they stay too available, I’ll eat them all. Seriously. I’m not kidding! :)

    Should I wrap each individually in plastic and freeze? Would this cause the chocolate coating to turn white? Thanks!
    Hi Victoria,
    If you have already coated the brownies in chocolate, then freezing will cause blotching on the chocolate. :(. If you really do have to freeze them then wrap each as well as possible to avoid having the condensation right on the chocolate. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  22. Victoria

    Thanks, Mary Jane. :)
    How do you think these little bundles of deliciousness would keep if I wrapped each in plastic and kept them in a cool room (around 55-60F)?

    Oh, and here is a photo of my cherry almond brownies

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2530/4168153282_dcc76d3219_m.jpg

    What a great photo! I think if you store them well wrapped and cool, they would last 7-10 days. The chocolate coating helps a lot. Thanks again for sharing your pics. I love looking through Pretty Sweets on Flickr. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  23. Kate

    I’d love to try this recipe, but don’t have the dipping chocolate – and it’s currently out of stock. What can I substitute? Thanks!
    Kate, the dark chocolate is due back in a week, meanwhile we still have milk and white dipping chocolate. Joan@KAF

    Reply
  24. Victoria

    I just made my second batch, and dipped them in milk chocolate this time. I honestly can’t decide if I like the dark or the milk better!

    Reply

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