I think I'm still in my "nothing-sweet-post-holiday-rebellion" and am coming out of it in stages. I had some beautiful fresh Bing cherries in the fridge, that were on the verge of being too ripe. The challenge was what to do with them that didn't involve drowning them in syrup or sugary coverings. Catching an idea from overripe banana bread, I decided to make up a similar bread with my cherries. Thinking about what flavors complement the fruit, I ended up creating a wonderful "Cherry, Chocolate and Almond Bread".
Although it still had a little sweetness, much like banana bread, the sweetness isn't the foreground and isn't overwhelming at all. Sure, there's chocolate in it, but I used dark chocolate which is actually somewhat bitter and of course, is good for you in moderation! I tasted all the nuts in my pantry with a nibble of cherry to find the perfect match and almonds were it! Pecans were a close second, but the cherry and almond flavors just worked beautifully together. Since this was neither a bread I'd made before nor eaten anywhere else, I am pretty proud of the results.
You could use dark chocolate like I did, or bittersweet chocolate. Or, if you ARE craving something sweet, you could even use milk chocolate. It's all up to your whims, your pantry and your cravings. I found this fantastic with both coffee or teas such as green tea or chamomile.
Here's how I made it:
Makes 2 loaves
4 c. unbleached flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. iodized salt
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. milk
1/2 c. fresh cherries, pitted and chopped
1 c. (about 5 oz.) dark or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 c. whole raw almonds, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Prepare 2 5x9" loaf pans by greasing and flouring.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar into a large bowl or the bowl of a mixer. Mix gently to incorporate all the dry ingredients.
3. Add the vanilla, egg and milk. Stir to incorporate but do not over-mix. If using a mixer, remove the bowl to add the last ingredients by hand.
4. Gently add the cherries, chocolate and almonds. Fold in to make these last ingredients evenly distributed but do not mix further.
5. Pour the dough into the two loaf pans and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, depending on your oven. Check at 50 minutes and when a toothpick inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean (except for the beautiful melted chocolate) remove from the oven. Let cool on cooling racks.
6. Slice a piece immediately and eat. The best piece is the first, straight out of the oven. For subsequent pieces, I'd suggest warming in the microwave for 10 seconds or briefly in the toaster. Just melt the chocolate but do not dry out the bread. Its moistness is incredible.