Cherry blossom bites

Blogging has been an interesting journey. My menu writing has been incredibly varied because I’m trying to capture some of my favorite recipes and continually try new ones. I don’t think I’ve made the same meal twice since I started this journey, which clearly means it’s time for more Mongolian Beef.

I’ve also rediscovered my love of writing and my talent for it. Attending a writing intensive (well, really everything intensive), highly selective university forced me to give up some of leisure activities. You know, silly things like leisure reading and creative writing. At times I feel like the dust is just beginning to settle, now that becoming an adult, starting a business, and moving across the state are in my rear view mirror. I’m finally picking those things up again and wishing I hadn’t put them off for so long.



The last, and probably most exciting, is the realization that I can (and do) craft my own recipes. I’m definitely not a chef. In fact, for the past few years my mantra has been “I’m great at following a recipe.” But as I sit down and really think about (and write out) the dishes for this blog, I’ve realized that I am really tweaking things to be my own. Sometimes it’s small, but sometimes I keep a recipe in my file just as a reminder of a dish for an unwritten recipe that I know. It’s been liberating and encouraging.



I took that new found confidence to heart while working on a baby shower for a coworker. The original plan for her party took a detour when so many people wanted to celebrate that logistically we couldn’t go out to lunch and be back in a reasonable amount of time. Instead one week before the event, my co-host and I decided to host a brunch shower at the office. I volunteered to bring in some baked goods and while writing the menu, I decided to make a unique recipe just for this occasion. The entire event was inspired by sweet piece of cherry blossom artwork my coworker selected for her nursery. So this recipe for cherry blossom bites was born. (No pun intended.)

It’s loosely based on a favorite Christmas cookie in our house that brings together dried cranberries and vanilla baking chips. Cherries seemed a bit more summery. The grocery store didn’t have vanilla baking chips (I hope that’s not a Kansas City thing because I’ll have to import them this winter), but I figured no one would complain about Ghirardelli white chocolate.

The finished bites were a hit at the shower. And I can cross “Write an original recipe” off my bucket list and replace it with “Write a cookbook.” Ambitious? Maybe…



Cherry Blossom Bites

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz. dried cherries, chopped
Heaping ½ cup white chocolate or vanilla baking chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mist 2 24-cup miniature-muffin tins with cooking spray.

In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, oil, sugar and vanilla. Stir dry ingredients gently into milk mixture. Fold in cherries and chips.

Spoon batter into muffin tins so they’re 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes, then turn muffins out onto racks.

Makes: 48 muffins

Notes: In a “Look at me, I’m the next Betty Crocker” moment, I dumped the entire bag of cherries into the bowl without chopping them and after a moment of stirring realized that there may not actually be 48 cherries (which would only allow one per mini muffin). Do not do this. It leads to batter drenched hands as you wade through the bowl, pull out the cherries out, slice them and return them to their gooey home. Learn from my mistake.

Josh - August 18, 2011 - 12:38 am

What’s a vanilla chip made from?? I’ve never heard of such a thing! I’ve never noticed them in St. Louis, but I’m a transplant here too…

Since you’ve reveled that you own a mini-muffin pan, you should try making these little bundles of butter filled joy:

Financiers, the last recipe at the bottom of the page.

hhawes - August 18, 2011 - 3:34 pm

I’m not sure what vanilla chips are made of. Perhaps they’re just infused white chocolate. All I know is that they taste awesome in cookies and I could find them at Hyvee in Kansas City. Maybe I should import them and start selling them on my blog when Christmas comes around ;)

Oooh! Thanks for the recipe! The Mud House (the best coffee house … possibly ever, but definitely on Cherokee Street) makes financiers. They’re addictive! Now I can surprise Hubster with some homemade ones.

Josh - August 19, 2011 - 1:38 am

Hyvee!!! I went to one of those once and it was awesome! Too bad St. Louis is geting no love on the Hyvee front or the vanilla chip front. :( I shall have to keep my eyes peeled the chip asile from now on.

hhawes - August 19, 2011 - 6:42 pm

Oh how I love (and really miss) HyVee! Sadly, the grocery stores in St. Louis don’t compare in many regards, including variety of baking chips :)

Josh - August 27, 2012 - 2:05 am

I have news! A year later, I’ve found vanilla chips right here in St. Louis. The new Dierbergs in Des Peres on Manchester Road has them! They’re in the bulk trail mix bar at the back of the produce section. They’re in a tube on the back of the bar.

ModernMealsForTwo - August 27, 2012 - 1:58 pm

Lol! Thanks so much for the update! My life in St Louis might be just a bit more complete now :)

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