Nothing makes life so sweet as the glorious tart cherry
Though we're a lover of the fresh cherry this season, we also have no problem with the quick frozen sort. This pie will still put any truck stop diner to shame. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
3 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) pitted sour cherries (1 pound)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup boiling water
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Toss cherries and any juices with granulated sugar and almond extract in a bowl; let stand at least 2 hours. Drain cherries, reserving ½ cup juice.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan, knocking out excess flour. Whisk hot water and cocoa powder in a small bowl until smooth; whisk in reserved cherry juice and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into another bowl.
3. Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing at low speed until blended (batter may look curdled).
4. Stir in cherries and chocolate chips; pour batter into pan, smoothing top. Bake in middle of oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack; cut into squares. Sift powdered sugar over the top, if you like.
Per serving: 506 calories, 23 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 103 mg cholesterol, 71 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 261 mg sodium, 4 g fiber.