Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Cookie bars with attitude...

Baking for the Weekly Wednesday Treat Day was the haps in our kitchen today - this time we thought these neat and tidy Chocolate Chip-Cherry Bars would be a bit different and interesting.

It's time to pull out those hidden and forgotten jars of maraschino cherries for this recipe! Both the cherries and the juice will be used, but at different points in the recipe. The cherries are finely chopped and then patted dry - you want their flavor, but you are not looking for them to add a bunch of moisture.

These thick bars are dense, yet they still have a tender quality to them from the use of confectioners' sugar as the sweetener. The buttery vanilla dough is studded with chunky pieces of bittersweet chocolate and the vibrant pieces of marachino cherries. Being fairly sticky, the dough is best scooped into the pan in dollops and then spread evenly over the bottom using an off-set spatula. Bake these until the top is a rich golden brown, the sides begin to pull away from the edges and a toothpick placed into the center comes out mostly clean.

As soon as the hot pan of bars is removed from the oven, we scattered a generous amount of chopped bittersweet chocolate on top. After a few moments, the chunks softened just enough to create a smooth slick of chocolate when spread with a spatula. Confectioners' sugar, a couple pats of softened butter and the reserved sweet cherry juice are combined to create a light rosy frosting that we drizzled over the top.

Dinner tonight, Wheat Berry Salad With Dried Apricots, would be a nice side item to serve with a variety of main dishes. However, since we were going to be performing our required quality control checks on those decadent bars above, we thought it best to keep dinner quite healthy and light.

The recipe calls for soaking the wheat berries overnight, but I think this is an unnecessary step as they end up cooking in the same amount of time. Soaked or not, they still take about 45 to 60 minutes for the grains to become tender enough. The cooked and cooled chewy wheat berries are tossed with a couple cups of tender chickpeas, crisp slivered snow peas, dried apricots, dried cranberries and thinly sliced green onions. The dressing to coat this salad is a simple combination of toasted walnut oil and bright lemon juice. Filled with a variety of pleasing textures, this was a delicious way to bring the night to a close with a very refreshing and clean-flavored meal.


  1. Joe, dear, you did mean snow peas instead of snow pears, didn't you? The retired keyboarding teacher is still proofreading!! Those chocolate/cherry bars look like something I can take to game night at church. Thanks for your fun recipes. Jancd

  2. Those bars look so delicious. I like the frosting on top. Great salad.

  3. I would seriously consider hopping on a plane right now to have a bite of those chocolate/cherry bars.

    Growing up, the chocolate candy with the cherry in the middle was my favorite from the box of Whitman's Sampler! This is a grown up version of my childhood favorite.

    And of course, I love the wheatberry salad. Gorgeous colors!


  4. I really like what you did with the cookie bars--they look very lively and delicious. The salad also looks great, but I'd be saving room for double portions on dessert. ;-)

  5. Ohh, I love the looks of this salad, it has everything I like on it!! Will try soon!!

  6. Joe, I love that you make a weekly treat each weeky for Jeff to take into work. It's such a creative way to get to try all those yummy desserts! My husband would adore the cherry bars - thanks for posting this one!

  7. Jancd - it was a long day! I didn't catch that... thanks.

    Helene - that was one of my favorite parts!

    karen - Thank you!

    Mike - I like your idea!

    Ana - Let me know!

    Nancy - it is fun to try all these treats out!