Eating fruit at it’s peak in the season is the best gift Mother Nature provides. This luxury of sweetness can only be found in a piece of fruit at the height of it’s ripe/maturity. Right now the spotlight is shining brightly on Cherries! Whole Foods Markets are celebrating their 3rd Annual Cherry Fest by bringing the best cherries to their stores for us customers to sink our teeth into. When this type of opportunity is conveniently placed at your fingertips you take it and run. I bought several bags, around 6 pounds worth. I thought “I can eat them all by myself or I could be a friend and invite some pals over for a Cherry Social.” I decided to do the latter. We enjoyed some in their natural glory and with the other I created a few dishes to serve at my gathering of friends. The Cherry Menu: Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding, Chicken Cherry Salad Sandwiches and Cherry Watermelon Sangria!
Run over to Whole Foods Market, grab a few bags of cherries in their peak season sweetness and make these recipes. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
For the Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding, I bought all the ingredients at Whole Foods Market. WFM makes my all-time favorite store bought cookie sold in their amazing bulk section, Amaretti Cookie. I love the flavor sooooo much I incorporated it into the bread pudding thinking Cherry and Amaretto work wonderfully together and boy was I right. Hee-hee! I also used their chocolate pound cake and Greenlee’s Best Cinnamon Bread (also sold in store). This Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding was made in a pyrex dish then spooned into cupcake holders to serve individually. Topped with a fresh cherry. Enjoy.
Ingredients for Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding:
5 – cups chocolate pound cake (cut into 1 inch cubes)
5 – cups Greenlee’s Best Cinnamon Bread (cut into 1 inch cubes)
2 – cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 – cup sliced almonds
2 – cups fresh cherries (pitted and cut into 4 pieces)
1 1/4 – cups sugar
4 – eggs
1 – teaspoon cinnamon
1 – teaspoon almond extract
1 – teaspoon vanilla
3 – cups half and half
1 – cup whole milk
5 – tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and brought back to room temperature) plus a little extra to butter your dish.
All photos taken by Nicole Presley
Preheat oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit.
Crush Amaretti cookies and cut pound cake and cinnamon bread into cubes. Combine all in a big mixing bowl.
Next add in chocolate chips and sliced almonds. Mix well. Set to the side.
Wash cherries and pitt them all. Then slice each cherry into 4 pieces. Set to the side.
Generously grease a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish, now take 6 cups of bread cubes and place in baking dish, arrange neatly to make your first layer. Then add all cherry slices.
Place remaining bread cubes mixture on top of cherries and press down to compact dish. Set to the side.
With a electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs together on high for 4 minutes. Next add cinnamon, almond extract, vanilla, half and half, milk and butter. Beat for 2 minutes. Carefully ladle egg/half and half mixture over prepared bread cubes.
Once egg/half and half mixture is poured in, gently press down on bread cubes with both hands to make sure they are soaked in egg/half and half mixture.
Now in a large baking dish or roasting pan (15 x 10 inches) fill 1 inch deep with hot water to create a water bath, then place the 9 x 13 inch prepared bread pudding dish in the middle of the 15 x 10 water bath (you want the bath to go halfway up the side of the 9 x 13 inch dish) and place in oven for 1 hour.
As soon as the bread pudding is ready, remove from water bath and and let it cool for 1 hour.
Spoon bread pudding into cupcake holders for individual servings. Top with a cherry and sprinkle with Amaretti cookie crumbs if you have any left. Place in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours or overnight.