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Hungarian Cherry Squares (Cseresznyés pite)

I am rather thrilled and honoured that my good friend Charles of Five Euro Food has kindly asked me to guest post. Charles has been a valued commenter on my blog for over a year now, and as most of you know, he takes his time to formulate interesting and thoughtful remarks; his comments are a joy to read and sometimes even have a bit of a chuckle over. Thank you Charles, your friendship is cherished, I hope to do your guest post right.

In keeping Charles’ tradition of a little peek into living in Paris, I will give you a little peek into living in Toronto and a lovely Hungarian family recipe. I ask that you head on over to Charles’ blog to check out our little adventure, but I will share my recipe here as well. I belabored over which recipe I would share as Charles’ guest post, because he takes so much time to photograph and document his recipes so well; I didn’t want to get ahead of myself and bite off more than I can chew (pardon the pun) so I hope you enjoy it. This recipe is a cherished favourite for my family (my brother always asks for it when I visit and now that my dear Mom is gone, it is up to me to carry on the tradition).

Cherry Squares

By Éva Hársfai-Robinson (1936-2005)

Makes 1 pan 9” x 13” about 20 squares

Cost: ~€0.31 ($0.40) each piece

Preparation time: ~40 minutes

Calories: ~120 calories per piece

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar pitted cherries 500 mL to 700 mL, drained but reserve liquid
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 120 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 250 g flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • About ½ cup milk – or use reserved cherry liquid (if you use the reserved liquid your squares will be a bit pink)

Directions:

  1. Grease and flour 9” x 13” x 2” baking pan (22cm x 33cm x 5cm).
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F (175°C)
  3. Drain cherries, liquid reserved (you can use this as your liquid or make a delicious sauce or use it in soda as flavouring!)
  4. Whip egg whites until a stiff but not dry (should be able to stand in a peak) – no need to wash the beater if you do it in this order, if you cream the yolks first, then you must wash the beater and dry thoroughly).
  5. Cream egg yolks with butter and sugar until light and fluffy (should be a lighter shade of yellow).
  6. Sift flour, baking powder and salt – dry ingredients.
  7. Alternating dry ingredients with the milk (or reserved cherry liquid), fold into egg yolk mixture.
  8. Fold beaten egg whites into the mixture.
  9. Pour into greased pan. Note the dough should be quite thick, should have to spread it into the cake pan, it should not pour by it self.
  10. Dot with cherries throughout (you may want to give each cherry a squeeze as you dot so ensure there are no pits!).
  11. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 to 30 minutes (test with toothpick to make sure it’s done).
  12. Cool in pan (don’t cut until it is entirely cool otherwise it will become ‘bacony’ or szalonás, as the Hungarians put it).
  • Creaming the butter, sugar and eggs together takes patience
  • I start out lining up all the cherries, but then I have to fill in the spaces so I can use up the whole jar!
  • The cherries behave as they wish, so there is no point in lining them up anyway

They are moist and not overly sweet.

A short note: This was my very first guest post ever, and I am delighted that it was for Charles’ Blog. I have a new found respect for Charles’ blogging, over and above my original respect, which was plenty! The extra effort Charles puts into this blog is unparalleled, the ingredient shot, the video, the working shots etc., make this blog ever so wonderful to follow but impossible to follow in its footsteps!

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In the late 70’s my 10 year old brother (20 months my junior) gave me a cook book of cookies, candies and desserts for Christmas; he inscribed it with this sentiment: “This is really for me, in the long run!” And it was! The bad photography of that time didn’t stop me from making so many things from it, and one of the family favourites were Chewy Peanut Butter Bars. Being of European decent and first generation Canadians, peanut butter was not a standard staple in our household (you’d more than likely find Nutella in our pantry — a chocolate hazelnut spread). But we were somehow, now long forgotten introduced to the nutty, buttery spread. My brother loved it on toast, I just liked baking with it. We tried all the commercial varieties; Skippy was just too salty, and what up with that lonely peanut on top? Kraft had even less peanut taste, and too sweet! We ended up with a store brand of Just Peanuts without preservatives; now we grind our own in our local health food store. Just peanuts and nothing else. I’m a little skeptical of products that need not be refrigerated, like Kraft PB! How come it doesn’t go rancid, with all that fat in it?
Sadly, during our 2007 Reno I must have really purged because I can no longer find this beloved cook book (it might be at the cottage) so I’ve had to go by memory on the recipe and find a recipe that seems to be similar (my memory ain’t what it used to be). They were chewy, like brownies, but with PB and not chocolate, and they had a white chocolate and dark chocolate drizzle on top. Yum! I found this recipe at Cooks.com and it seems to fit the bill.

Chewy and peanut buttery goodness; you know you want one!

Chewy Peanut Butter Bars

Makes 3 dozen (1 1/2 to 2 inch) bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter, smooth or chunky
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2/3 cup milk chocolate chips melted with about 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar with enough drops of cold water to make a liquidy icing (but one that will set well)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. Heat peanut butter and butter together until melted.
  5. Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla until well blended.
  6. Add flour mixture and stir just until combined.
  7. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Cool on wire rack.
  9. When cool, spread the melted milk chocolate so that it coats the entire top. Working quickly, drizzle swirls of the white icing in a crazy pattern. Cut into 1-2″ square inch squares.

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