I am not sure if you have ever come across the wonder of ‘cherry ripe’? Unless you are an Aussie, have lived there or, like me, are married to an Aussie you probably haven’t so let me make the formal introduction.
Cherry ripe is a cherry and coconut chocolate bar that my Melbourne raised husband grew up on. He told me about it once brimming with nostalgia. I tried it back when we lived in London and I remember not being that smitten but then I got the idea of trying to make it at home with REAL cherries instead of glace cherries, which is what it is commercially made with I believe.
I got a bit of a stick for that (might have even been called a food snob at some point, the cheek of it!!), but all my test attempts disappeared in a blink of an eye so I knew I struck gold. Even I am slowly coming round to that flavour combo now although I admit I wasn’t that sure about it at first…
What I like about these bars is that they only use a few ubiquitous ingredients, are delightful straight from the freezer on a hot summer day and keep for ages if your pesky sweet cravings leave them well alone. They are also super easy to make too so what have you got to lose?
MORE ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
FRESH CHERRIES – fresh juicy cherries make these chocolate bars irresistible. Combine them with sugar and simmer down until soft and syrupy to intensify their flavour and give these nice and moist consistency. The colour of the filling will very much depend on the colour of your cherries. Darker cherries will produce more of a purple interior.
SUGAR – you could use any sugar you like here, I used caster sugar, but coconut sugar will work just as well. You could also use maple syrup or dates, but they will change the colour of the filling making the bars look less appetising.
DESICCATED COCONUT – desiccated coconut gives these bars body, flavour and nice texture. Use finely shredded, unsweetened desiccated coconut like you see in my photos but if you can only find sweetened (I know that some US readers had issues with finding unsweetened desiccated coconut in the past) desiccated coconut, reduce the amount of sugar used in the recipe and you may also need to use a little less coconut as omitting sugar will make the bars drier.
DARK CHOCOLATE – I used dark (70% cacao) vegan chocolate to coat these bars. I added a touch of coconut oil to the chocolate to thin it and make the coating process easier to handle. If you’d rather not use commercial chocolate, use equal amount of cacao power and coconut oil and sweeten with a touch of maple syrup.
COCONUT OIL – I used a small amount of coconut oil (I use fragrance free oil for most things although it really does not matter in this context) to firm up the filling and keep it moist. You could also use vegan butter (the type that comes in a block, not a tub) or coconut cream (use a little more, ¼ cup) to the same effect.
Place pitted cherries and sugar in a medium size pot. Stir frequently until cherries release their juices, then allow them to simmer on a low heat until cherries soften and the juices thicken into a syrup.
Place cooled cherries, desiccated coconut and coconut oil in a food processor. Process until well you obtain a uniform, sticky mixture.
Transfer the mixture to a paper lined tin or container. You can use any size you like and make the bars as tall as you would like. Allow the bars to set in the freezer.
Once the bars have fully set, coat them in a melted chocolate, allow them to set and store in the freezer for a rainy…erm, I meant a hot summer day like the ones we’ve just had over here.
- Place pitted cherries, sugar and vanilla (if using) in a medium size pot.
- Set the pot on a low heat and stir frequently until cherries release their juices so there is no danger of the cherries getting scorched.
- Allow the cherries to simmer gently, until the fruit softens and the liquid changes into thick syrup (i.e. excess moisture evaporates) – it takes about 30-40 minutes depending on the juiciness of your cherries. Stir from time to time. Allow to cool.
- Transfer cherries and their juices to a food processor, add desiccated coconut, 2 tbsp (25 g) of coconut oil and salt and pulse a few times until you obtain a homogenous, sticky mixture.
- Line a tray or trays – I used two 20 cm / 8″ x 10 cm / 4″ banana bread tins with baking paper.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of your tin/tins – you can make the bars as thin or thick as you like – typically they are quite thin so I filled my tins to only about 1.25 cm / 0.5″ height.
- Freeze for 2-3 hours to be able to slice the slab into bars neatly.
- Gently melt broken up chocolate and the remaining 1 tbsp (12 g) of coconut oil in a bowl suspended over a water bath.
- Once your chocolate has melted, take cherry ripe slab out of the freezer and cut into bars of desired size. Mine are 10 cm / 4″ long and 4 cm / 1.5″ wide.
- Dip each bar in the melted chocolate, drain it on your fork and set aside for the chocolate to set. Once it no longer looks wet, pop the bars into the freezer. Store in the freezer for up to a month.
*DESICCATED COCONUT: use finely shredded (see photos) and unsweetened variety of desiccated coconut. It is widely available in the UK baking aisles, but I know from my readers that in the USA it can sometimes be already sweetened. If sweetened is the only version you can get, simply use less (or none at all) sugar and you may also need to use a little less coconut as not adding sugar will make the mixture drier.
*CHOCOLATE: I used dark (70% cacao) vegan chocolate to coat these bars – if your bars are different size (have smaller surface area in total), you may not need as much chocolate to coat them. If you’d rather not use commercial chocolate, use equal amount of cacao power and coconut oil (for example ¼ cup each) and sweeten with a touch of icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) or maple syrup.
Makes ten 1.25 cm / 0.5″ tall, 10 cm / 4″ long and 4 cm / 1.5″ wide bars.