Just like life, where a balance of work and play is essential, a balance of flavors is key in the culinary world as well. This is a palate pleasing and perfectly balanced bake that’s composed of sweet, salty, tart and citrusy flavors, all wrapped up in a pretty little bar of Cherry Orange Chocolate goodness. These bars are not only easy to make and utterly delightful to serve, but as it turns out, they are the perfect road trip treat!
This story began when life and work obligation found us heading into the last weekend of spring break without a plan. That was not going to be okay with two anxious children that had been patiently awaiting what had been sold to them as a “Surprise Trip.” The real surprise was that mommy and daddy had no plan and little time left to formulate one.
Then I thought, there was a precious new little cousin that had come into this world and we had yet to meet him. I could not imagine a better reason for a road trip! Oh and throw in a zoo with baby pandas, an aquarium with dancing dolphins and a museum boasting a life size dinosaur, and you have a recipe for epic fun in ATL!
All I needed now was a bake that I could make for both the family we were visiting, as well as the ravenous little monkeys in the car. Cue in these Cherry Orange Chocolate Bars Bars!
Recipe makes 24 bars.
1-1/2 cups (187 grams) all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs at room temperature, preferably organic
1 cup (220 grams) light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange, preferably organic
1 cup (155 grams) dried cherries, halved
½ cup (80 grams) milk chocolate chips
½ cup (80 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup (80 grams) bittersweet chocolate, melted and piped
How to use them:
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Prepare a 13 inch x 9 pan inch by lining the bottom and sides of the pans with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs for 1 minute. Whisk in the brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla and orange zest until the ingredients are completely combined, about 2 minutes. Remove the whisk and with a spatula, fold in the flour mixture until just combined and you no longer see streaks of flour. Do not overmix. Add the milk and bittersweet chocolate chips, and dried cherries. Fold in the chips and cherries until just mixed.Using an offset spatula, spread the bar batter evenly in the prepared 13 inch x 9 pan inch. Bake at 350° for 20-22 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs, and the bars have light brown golden sheen.Allow the bars to cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Gently lift bars by lifting each side of the parchment paper up and allow to cool completely before cutting. Gently slice with a sharp knife.As you begin slicing, the perfectly crispy crackly top gently gives way to a moist, chocolaty, tart, citrusy goodness. Continue slicing into 24 lovely bars.
Or, you can continue the adventure by adding a drizzle of bittersweet chocolate. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50% power, stirring every 15 seconds until it is almost completely melted. After you remove it from the microwave, continue to stir to allow the residual heat to melt the chocolate completely. Be careful as chocolate scorches easily.Allow the chocolate to set and then you have full permission to unabashedly dig in! Road trip or not, these bars are a one way street to deliciousness.