It’s been far too long since I’ve brought out the ‘booch.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still as in love with it as ever, but I was told by my OB that I should be careful about consuming kombucha while pregnant (which is slightly odd seeing as I have other friends whose docs told them it was good for them) but I just couldn’t help myself with this Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch!
When you can’t consume alcohol, you’ve got to get creative with how you enjoy your festive beverages. As a die-hard bubbles lover, I’m the first to use a delicious sparkling wine as my punch base when I’m not pregnant (case in point: this Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch I made last year) so naturally I was looking for something that would be a suitable substitute, at least for the next 5 weeks or so.
[Side note: I can’t believe we’re only five-ish weeks away from meeting our little girl!]
Because these days I seem to be getting “sugar headaches” if I consume too much overly sweetened juice, I wanted something that had minimal added sugar. I also wanted some bubbles – because we’ve got to keep things festive somehow! A citrus-y kombucha seemed just the answer.
I decided to keep with the new season (hello, fall!) by using some of its star produce. While cherries may be on their way out, pomegranates are most certainly on their way in, as are all the citrus fruits. So into my base of citrus kombucha went equal parts pomegranate and cherry juices (which you can find at any Trader Joe’s) and then, to keep my Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch not too basic, I added just a touch of orgeat to add a little extra dimension of flavor.
[Second side note: Orgeat has become a huge favorite mocktail ingredient for me and I highly recommend that you add some to your home bar arsenal ASAP.]
Once you have all the ingredients on hand, your Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch will come together in a snap, which means it’s the perfect batch mocktail to whip up this weekend.
Speaking of which, what are your plans? We have a few birthday parties to attend, but otherwise we’ll be relaxing, watching football, putting together baby stuff and packing our “go” bags for the hospital!
No matter what mischief you’re getting into, I hope you make this Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch a part of it!
This dense yeasted bread has a chocolate-molasses dough that’s studded with chocolate chips and dried sweet cherries. Chocolate Cherry Bread is delicious when toasted and served warm!
I don’t know what it is (maybe the fact that I finally realized how easy it is to actually pit cherries?) but this year I have been on such a cherry recipe kick. Isn’t it funny how that works sometimes? Some years, you become so absolutely obsessed with an ingredient that the ideas just keep flooding in. I suppose I have pregnancy to blame for my obsession with certain foodstuffs, and when those foodstuffs involve things like red, juicy cherries, I don’t mind one bit.
To be fair, this Chocolate Cherry Bread is a recipe I’ve had in my back pocket for ohhhhh, over six years? You see, when I lived in Honolulu, it was a weekly ritual for my friend Leslie and I to go for a Saturday morning run around the base of Diamond Head, and then hit up the Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market (one of THE best farmer’s markets around if you ask me) to stock up on yummy goods for the week (okay, and maybe enough samples to count as breakfast.)
Now, this farmer’s market is seriously no joke. Not only will you find a ginormous selection of local fruits and vegetables, you’ll also find rows and rows of prepared food (we’re talking fried green tomatoes, roasted Kahuku corn and the like) PLUS my favorite: baked goods!
One of my favorite stops was the Ba-Le stand, which is a French-Korean bakery/deli with stores throughout the island. I was still in the midst of my food obsession/eating qualms at the time, so heaven forbid I splurge and buy a whole loaf of their delicious bread to eat on my own, but what I loved about the Ba-Le stand was the SAMPLES. Man, oh man, the samples. They would cut up every single flavor of bread they made and have them all sitting out there for everyone to try. As you can imagine, after a long run (and as someone who had not been nourishing myself properly for these runs) I was alllll about the bread samples.
One of my very favorite flavors that Ba-Le had for sale (and to sample!) was the Chocolate Cherry Bread. I don’t know about you, but whenever I had imagined a Chocolate Cherry Bread, I would think of a quick bread, with a dense, pound cake-like texture. But this Chocolate Cherry Bread was different. It was a yeasted bread, which meant it had plenty of heft and was perfect for toasting and slathering butter or cream cheese on.
On one of my Dad’s many visits out to see me, I took him to the market and made him try this bread that I had so madly fell in love with. My Dad is my confidant when it comes to recreating recipes I try out in public at home. His palate is spot on and he knows exactly what it will take to make our own version of whatever we’ve fallen in love with. Needless to say, the next time I was home visiting my parents in Santa Cruz, we tackled the task of making our very own version of Chocolate Cherry Bread.
The result is this recipe I’m sharing today, which has finally made its way off of the piece of scratch paper I had scrawled it on and into my “official” recipe archives.
Our Chocolate Cherry Bread is a dense, chocolate- and molasses-flavored loaf studded with dried sweet cherries and semisweet chocolate chips. It’s just as irresistible fresh out of the oven as it is two days later, toasted and slathered with your favorite spread (butter, cream cheese and jam are all equally acceptable.)
Yeasted breads can often seem intimidating but, with a little planning, I promise they’re not. In fact, they’re probably one of the easier baked goods to tackle, simply for the fact that much of the prep time involves just letting the dough rest and rise. The actual dough-making and baking process takes less than an hour.
Since I’ve been preggo, I’ve needed to eat something as soon as I wake up in the morning, and this Chocolate Cherry Bread has been just the answer. We (just the two of us) can go through a loaf in less than a week, but if you don’t consume carbs at the rapid pace that we do (or simply want to save your Chocolate Cherry Bread for a special occasion,) the loaf will freeze incredibly well.
I’m thinking this is another thing I’ll have to stock in our freezer for the weeks after baby comes?
1cupwarm water (between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
3tablespoonsunsweetened cocoa powder
2/3cupsemisweet chocolate chips
1/2cupdried sweet cherries
2 1/2 - 3 1/2cupsall-purpose flour
Add all ingredients (starting with just 2 ½ cups flour) to a food processor and process until they begin to come together to form a sticky dough. Add additional flour, ¼ cup at a time (processing in between,) until you are just able to pull out the dough without it sticking all over your hands. (It’s okay if the dough is still a little sticky. You don’t want to add too much flour or the dough will be tough.)
Turn the dough out of the food processor and into a medium mixing bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
Take dough out of bowl and knead a bit, either just between your hands or on a lightly floured surface, before placing dough in a greased 8-inch round cake pan. Let rise, uncovered, in a warm place for another hour.
Towards the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. When dough is finished rising, bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until bread sounds a bit hollow when you tap on the top. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out on to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Now that the word is out about my pregnancy, I think it’s only fair that I start posting mama-to-be (or just non-drinker) friendly mocktails along with my cocktails. Because, as I’ve discovered these past four and a half months, they can sometimes taste just as good as the real thing (minus the hangover!)
This Cherry Bourbon Breeze and its booze-free version, which I’m simply dubbing the “Cherry Breeze,” is the perfect way to kick off this little series, just in time for Memorial Day!
I hope you like cherries, because both today and Monday’s posts are inspired by my inability to visit the local Farmer’s Market without loading up on the in-season “it” produce. In fact, it was a little hard for me to keep my hands off of the cherries long enough to make this. Luckily, I was able to find cherry juice at Trader Joe’s, so I could use that for the bulk of this cocktail/mocktail and save more cherries for those mid-afternoon pregnancy cravings.
But before I get to this Cherry Bourbon Breeze, can we just talk about what everyone’s plans are for the long holiday weekend? The hubs and I drove up to his parents’ place in Morgan Hill last night, and are taking off early this morning for Tahoe. So excited! As I mentioned in Monday’s Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread post, Chris’ birthday actually falls on Memorial Day this year, and since we were too busy planning a wedding last year to throw together a big bash for his 30th, we’re doing a “make-up” 30th of sorts for his 31st! There will be a total of eight of us there (plus two babies, my how times have changed!) and we’re really looking forward to a little R&R and time out in the sun. The weather is supposed to be in the 70’s while we’re there, so we’re stoked! What are you all up to this weekend?? Something fun I hope!
So, about this Cherry Bourbon Breeze. It’s no secret on this here blog that I’m a big fan of bourbon/whiskey, and I probably have Chris’ love for it to thank for that. I love me a classic old-fashioned, but have also found some fun ways to mix it up like this Twisted Whiskey Kind of Afternoon and this Bourbon, ‘Barb and Blue. Any of which would be absolutely perfect cocktails to whip up this weekend if you’re not feeling the cherries!
But really, you should be feeling the cherries, because they are soooo good and their flavor translates perfectly into this Cherry Bourbon Breeze. I went for the classic pairing of cherry and orange for this drink, because I knew the flavors would be spot on even in a non-alcoholic version. Did you also know that cherry juice has been proven to be an aid in recovery for sore muscles? So really, I’m doing you a favor with this cocktail here.
For the alcoholic version, all you’re going to need is bourbon, Grand Marnier, cherry juice, fresh oranges and a dash of club soda. For cocktails, unless I’m making something like my fave Harvey Wallbanger Mimosa, I prefer to use juice from fresh oranges as opposed to the pre-squeezed, store-bought stuff. I feel like they add just the perfect amount of orange flavor, without completely overwhelming a drink or making it too sweet.
The only change for the non-alcoholic Cherry Breeze is to simply omit the bourbon and Grand Marnier. I gotta say, it still tastes absolutely fantastic! It was only after I had already made (and consumed) the mocktail that I realized a dash of orgeat might have been the perfect little touch, so if you have some in your bar and want to give it a shot, let me know how it is!
As far as the technique for making this cocktail, it couldn’t be easier! Just throw all ingredients into a rocks glass full of ice and give it a little stir. If you’re feeling daring (or just want your Cherry Bourbon Breeze or Cherry Breeze to look a little more festive) add some skewered fresh cherries as a garnish.
What else do you need to kick off a fabulous Memorial Day weekend?