It just so happens that three of the most special women in my life are full-blown, die-hard, absolute chocoholics. When asked about their favorite sweet treat (something I routinely make a mental note of for friends and family), each would most certainly respond “anything chocolate.” To celebrate her granddaughter’s 1st birthday, I surprised my “work mom” Linda with double chocolate cupcakes. I checked with her in advance, wondering what little Maddie might like for her first introduction to sugar, and Linda responded with resounding assurance- that little baby didn’t stand a chance of ever tasting vanilla! Whenever my cousin, dear friend, and baking buddy, Erica, is in town from Philadelphia, I am determined to fill her belly with a goodie that showcases her favorite ingredient- so far the top recipe has been the chocolate swirl sticks, yeasted sweet dough breadsticks twisted with a cocoa-powder, cinnamon, and chocolate chip filling. Let’s just say she and her adorable boyfriend, AJ, fought over the left-overs all the way home. And a care package to my sweetheart gal pal, Elise, would not be complete without something doused in chocolate- most recently chocolate covered espresso beans. Needless to say, I am always on the hunt for dependable, delicious, chock-full-of-chocolate recipes to turn to when I’m tasked with whipping up something tasty for one of these lovely ladies.
This week’s SMS selection, Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies, definitely makes the grade, and will fit nicely in my super chocolatey baking repertoire. Delicately balanced by dried cherries, these chocolate cookies have a little something different that sets them apart. I was pleased that the depth of their flavor is matched by their concentrated dark brown color, alerting potential tasters that an intense eating experience awaits. While preparing the cookie’s mix-ins, I decided to chop the dried cherries, so they would be more evenly distributed throughout the dough. As with all dried fruits in my baking, I soaked the cherries in boiling water spiked with some vanilla extract to plump each juicy morsel, and ensure adequate moisture after a trip through the oven. Following the advice of some of the other SMS bakers, I watched the cookies carefully, and pulled them out about 1 minute early, which ensured a soft and chewy texture. Although I’m more accustomed to the scoop-and-drop method of cookie baking, The Sweet Melissa Baking Book is making me a slice-and-bake convert. So far, both of the cookies I’ve made using this method have emerged with superlative taste, consistency, and appearance. The chill period might require a bit more time, planning, and patience, but I must say, the results are worth it!
And believe it or not, these cookies are not only scrumptious, they are healthy for you too! Cherries contain anthocyanins, the red pigment in berries and potent antioxidants that have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, leading to multiple potential health benefits. Of course, chocolate is also known to contain antioxidants, especially in the cocoa solids or cocoa powder. So go ahead, eat a cookie- I guarantee it will make you feel better inside and out!