Triple Cherry Brownies

Triple cherry brownies

A decadent summer dessert

Bing cherries

“Look Charles, things grow so fast in California they say you have to plant and step back quick or you’ll get knocked down.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Inspiration

I left a sunny 65° Salinas and headed northeast to Gilroy to pick Bing cherries. Buckley Orchard is a small family owned orchard in the southern Santa Clara Valley. When I arrived in Gilroy at 10 a.m. it was already 82°. Heading home several hours later, the temperature had climbed to 93°. It was very warm at the cherry orchard for someone used to living along the coast! The trees were bursting with cherries and picking them was easy. Photographing the lush cherries was my favorite part of the trip to the orchard and that is how I ended up in the heat long after my basket had been filled.

Ornamented with glistening red cherries, the trees boldly announced that summer had arrived. I felt small under the canopy of green leaves. There was summer magic hovering in the thick warm air. A cool breeze would have blown it away. Like a child confronted with an seemingly endless stack of birthday gifts I was in awe of the branches heavy with crimson fruit waiting to be picked.

Buckley Orchard

Cherries and chocolate are a classic dessert pairing. The iconic Black Forest Cake never is out of style. Chocolate, cherries and whipped cream; I had visions of recreating the classic on a smaller scale. Triple Cherry Brownies after a trip to the orchard. Cherries in the brownie, cherries on top of the brownie and fresh cherry syrup flowing over everything. And the brownies would be more decadent than a chocolate cake. After all cherry season is only once a year.

Preparing brownies

Essentials

I had searched for years to find a brownie recipe that I could call my favorite. We like brownies which are fudgy, not gooey or dry and cakey. A few years ago I took a chance and bought Fat Witch Brownies. If a bakery in Manhattan has thrived on their brownie recipe it must be good. And so it was, the best brownie recipe ever had been found! I have adapted the recipe, adding more chocolate, brown sugar and the dried cherries. I also use a different technique to mix the ingredients together. My daughter prefers the original recipe and technique. In addition to the namesake Fat Witch Brownies, the cookbook has a myriad of other scrumptious cookie recipes, I highly recommend it.

I made the Triple Cherry Brownies in two versions, with fresh Bing cherries and also with dried, tart cherries. Directions for both are included. I am not sure which brownie is better, they are similar, yet different. Fresh Bing cherries are in season and evoke the flavors of The Black Forest Cake, while the dried tart cherries offer a tangy surprise hidden in the luscious fudgy brownie. My taste testers were divided in their assessment! Either recipe is a fleeting burst of summer dessert madness. Why else would the long lost cherry pitter resurface from the depths of the utensil drawer?

Brownies two ways—with fresh Bing cherries and with tart, dried cherries

Brownies two ways—with fresh Bing cherries and with tart, dried cherries

Ingredients
Brownies
6oz butter, room temperature
3/4C / 115 grams 60% cacao chocolate chips
3/4C / 120 grams brown sugar
3/4C / 180 grams granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1t vanilla extract
1/2C + 3T / 60 grams + 20 grams flour
1/2t salt
1/2C / 75 grams dried tart cherries, see below for fresh cherries
Cherries and cherry syrup
2C fresh Bing or other sweet cherries, pitted
1/4C / 40 grams brown sugar
1T water
sweetened whipped cream or ice cream
12 fresh cherries with stems for garnishing the finished desserts

Brownie topped with whipped cream and a Bing cherry

  1. Preheat the oven to 340°.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave. This may only take a minute if your butter is soft. Remove from the microwave when there are still a few chocolate chips visible in the bowl. Stir to combine to finish melting the chocolate. Set side to cool.
  3. While the chocolate mixture cools, line a 9” x 9” square baking pan with parchment paper. Grease and then flour the parchment paper. This will ensure removal of the brownies from the pan after baking.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the dried cherries with 3 T flour. With your fingers, break apart any clumps of cherries and make sure each cherry is covered in flour.
  5. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix together the sugar, eggs and vanilla. When thoroughly combined, add the cooled butter and chocolate mixture. Mix again until thoroughly combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift the flour and salt on top of the batter. Gently fold the flour into the chocolate mixture. When the dry ingredients are almost combined with the wet, gently fold in the flour covered dried cherries.
  6. Pour the batter evenly into the parchment lined pan and bake for 30–35 minutes. When done, a cake tester will come out clean and the brownies will have pulled away from the sides of the pan. Do not over bake.
  7. Let the brownies cool for thirty minutes. Then remove the entire brownie from the pan by carefully lifting the parchment paper from the pan. Finish cooling before cutting.
  8. To make the brownies with fresh Bing cherries follow the cooking instructions for preparing the cherries below increasing the Bing cherries to 4 Cups total, mix with 1/2 C brown sugar. Gently press 2 Cups of the drained cherries into the top of the batter just before baking. Baking time will be increased by 8–10 minutes. Toward the end of baking I covered the edges of the baking pan with foil. (Omit the dried cherries.)
  9. While the brownies are baking and cooling, prepare the cherries and cherry syrup. Gently combine the brown sugar, water and cherries in a saucepan. Over medium heat, simmer the mixture just until the juice is starting to be released and the skin of the cherries just begins to peel away from the edges of the fruit, approximately 3–4 minutes. (similar to tomatoes or peaches, but a much smaller scale) Do not overcook the cherries as they will become mushy and dull in color.
  10. Drain the cherries, saving all the juice. After ten minutes return the saucepan and juice to the stove. Bring the juice to a low simmer and cook until thickened and reduced in volume by a third to half, approximately 30–45 minutes. When thickened the syrup will coat the back of a wooden spoon. The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools. The cherry syrup is best served at room temperature. Cool completely before serving over sweetened whipped cream.
  11. Plate individual brownie servings and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. Spoon some of the cooked cherries over the brownie and cream. Place a cherry on top of the cream. Finish by spooning the cherry syrup over the cream and brownies. Serve immediately.

Bowl of cherries

Springtime cherry blossoms

Ripe Bing cherries, ready to pick

Tempting cluster of Bing cherries

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28 Responses to Triple Cherry Brownies

  1. I love these with fresh cherries, they look divine! Gorgeous photos of the orchards. Happy 4th, Deb!

  2. Cristina says:

    Deb: I’m so envious of your cherry picking experience and those beautiful orchards! I’ve been hedging these weeks, finding it difficult to pay the price for cherries – wish we had something like that out here too! I finally brought home a clam shell and look forward to eating them fresh and adding them to some baked goods. :)

    Love these triple cherry brownies. A great combination of complimentary flavors and so pretty your presentation!

    • Deb says:

      Bing cherries are finally on sale at the grocery store this week. (The sale price very close to what I paid at the orchard.) But the experience at the orchard was so enjoyable I have no regrets and would go again if I could! Thank you for your lovely comments!

  3. Carol Sacks says:

    Love the post and adore the photos, Deb. Looks like you had a memorable time!

  4. ~ callee ~ says:

    Looks like you had an amazing time!!!! And those brownies look delicious – that’s my favorite way to eat chocolate :-}

  5. Gretchen says:

    What a great idea to combine the fresh cherries with brownies. Both versions look fantastic. As always, your photography is beautiful, Deb!

    • Deb says:

      Oh Gretchen, Thank you so much! Your lovely compliment about my photography is inspiring! And yes, yes, this is a great summer dessert.

  6. I’ve never seen cherries on a farm before – they look so beautiful! I have some brandying in the fridge right now, but I need to buy some more to bake them into something chocolatey and delicious like these brownies!

    • Deb says:

      This was my first trip to pick cherries at the orchard. I couldn’t believe how easy it was! It was great fun!

  7. Sarah says:

    These look delicious! Love cherries and brownies so can’t wait to give this a try. Really lovely photos too!

  8. Geni says:

    These cherry brownies look utterly sinful but fabulous! I love that you take us to these farms and gift us with stunning photos. I could just bite into those cherries…so gorgeous!

    • Deb says:

      Thanks Geni! I’m thrilled your like my trip to the cherry orchard! The brownies are totally worth every last morsel.

  9. Tiffany says:

    Cherry + chocolate = heaven!

  10. Cherries grow down in England but we are a bit too cool up here in Scotland – our berry crops (raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants etc) are amazing however. This brownie dessert looks amazing and I love the two options. I have some splendid sour Turkish cherries for medicinal purposes (arthritis reliever) but I think I shall appropriate some for this recipe. Also, if fresh cherries are sweet enough do you think it’s fine just to chuck them in as is without cooking them down?

    • Deb says:

      Cherries do not grow along the coast here in California either. I traveled north and inland about a half hour drive to the orchard. I am so glad I did, it seemed magical to me. Perhaps all the sunshine and heat impaired my senses! Although I did test the brownie recipe with fresh and dried cherries numerous times I did not try the fresh cherries without poaching them first. However I have seen numerous recipes with fresh cherries in the batter. Do let me know if you give it a try!

  11. El says:

    Lovely. They look delicious!

  12. Pingback: California Cherries | Lola Jane's World

  13. I´ve had this brownie recipe for a while but never bothered to make it. But cherries in brownies are one of those hard to explain incredible things. I just love the combination. Amazing pictures of the fresh cherries!

    • Deb says:

      Oh my goodness, The Fat Witch Brownie recipe is the best! I agree combining cherries with brownies are an entire new adventure in delight!

  14. Cherries are just so photogenic ;)

  15. Pingback: Cherry Hand Pies | East of Eden Cooking

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