Janet's Notebook
Cheery Cherries Add Color, Sweetness To Valentine's Day

Cherry Smashed Cake

What's red, fruity, and perfect for Valentine's Day? Why, cherries of course! Strawberries may get most of the recipe love this time of year, but we're diversifying our repertoire and filling up our Valentine dance card with some super sweet cherry stand-outs!

Slightly nutty, slightly fruity... Ann Klyza's Cherry Chews are always perfectly sweet. The flavors of pecans, cherries and almonds float atop a buttery crust akin to a scrumptious oatmeal cookie.

"This recipe is from my Aunt Isabelle Matchett," says Ann of her family's favorite cookie bars. "I have made this recipe every year for the past 25 years for my family. You'll love it!!"

Be sure to top off your batch of Cherry Chews with Ann's cherry-almond icing in the most darling shade of pink. As pretty as it is tasty, Cupid himself will be knocking down your door to get his sweet fix!

A bit more labor-intensive - but well worth the effort - is Jamie Beecham'sJamie Beecham's fantastic Cherry Smashed Cake. The recipe is filled with the flavors of "smashed" chocolate-covered cherries and iced with an Amaretto-infused cherry whipped cream!

"I got the idea by wanting to make something like chocolate covered cherries," smiles Jamie. "My daughter and her work friends are always asking for something good to eat from my kitchen or calling for a cake. Knowing I was going to her hometown, I decided to get this cake made. I hope you all will like it as much as my husband did."

Indeed, this recipe has been spreading love all across the country. Folks from all corners have been writing in to let us know how much they've enjoyed it. In fact, my own cousin is even using the recipe as inspiration for her daughter's wedding cake! Yep, it's that good.

For all the purists out there, sometimes there's just nothing better than a real, honest to goodness chocolate covered cherry in its natural form. Well, thanks to Jennifer McConnell we've got a fabulous recipe for a homemade version of the candy.

"These are really wonderful!" exclaims Just A Pinch's Gail Herbest, who pinned a Blue Ribbon on the recipe. "I [even] bought another large jar of cherries today so that I can make them again soon. I doubt there will still be any left 3-6 days from now to see them form more liquid in the center, but even with the smooth cream (which has a wonderful flavor) they are still very juicy and rich."

Imagine the reaction you'll get when instead of pre-packaged candy you present your sweetie with a bundle of homemade, TLC-filled, chocolate covered cherries! The love that goes into them is evident with every bite.

This season is undeniably about love in all its forms. What better way to honor your loved ones than by making them a treat with your own hands? Homemade is not only delicious, but it's meaningful. Whether you're feeling like standard strawberries or looking to stir things up with a cheery shot of cherry, I encourage you to spread the love through the food you make. Feed your friends, feed your family... feed your soul.

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sallye bates - Feb 11, 2013
Well, I'm never too old to learn new tricks. Thanks for the input, Bev. I probably won't have enough nerve to try this option, I will just use the Dulce de Leche available at my HEB grocer. I know the Latinos here use it to make flan.
Bev Connolly - Feb 11, 2013
Message for Mary and Sallye,
We used to cook an unopened can of condensed milk to make a very rich caramel. Used it to make mini cupcake sized apple tarts in a shortbread type sweet pastry, spread on fresh bread or get a spoon and go for it. The trick is not to let it boil dry and blow up. Needs about 3-4 hrs on a gentle boil and keep topping up with hot water. I used pressure cooker pot that had a heavy lid so that I could rest on the top add water 2/3 depth of can never less than half. Move lid just enough to check and add hot water. DO NOT PRESSURE COOK! Helps to keep the mess contained and safer. Not ideal so be very careful if you try this. Move off stove to cool before opening. Keep your distance. I never allowed my kids in the kitchen when doing this. Cleaning the kitchen ceiling is not fun!
sallye bates - Feb 10, 2013
Mary, what recipe? I don't know of any recipe that calls for heating sweetened condensed milk while it is still in the can. Write back with the link so we can take a look and give you some directions.
Mary MacDonald - Feb 10, 2013
Hi There! I am from Canada and we only have sweetened condensed milk available in a pull tab can. Can anyone tell me if these are safe to caramelize on the stove top without the risk of it exploding? I would love to make those brownies with salted caramel but am afraid to make the caramel without knowing about the risk factor first!!
Thanking you in advance!! Mary
Dorene Fishkin - Feb 8, 2013
How are blue ribbon winners determind ?
MARY SMEAL - Feb 8, 2013
Is it necessary to be signed up in NOTIFICATIONS to have a submitted recipe seen upon opening of the web-page, Thank-you
J C Walling - Feb 5, 2013
cherries in any form ring my bell. It IS a joke in the family about my liking cherries. even Dr. Pepper has cherries and now Coke is putting cherry flavor in some of their drinks. I look forward to all your recipes. Jc
jamie Beecham - Feb 5, 2013
Oh thank you so much Ina I really apprecite your support knowing you are a great bakery chef.
Wendy Rusch - Feb 5, 2013
WTG Jamie Cakes for being spotlighted in Janets Notebook! You deserve it!!! xoxo
Sue Healey - Feb 5, 2013
The Cherry Smashed Cake looks so good. I wish I had a piece to try it right now. Also, I like the Chocolate Covered Cherries recipe. I want to try that too. Thank you both for sharing. Please look up my recipes for Bells Barbeque and Meatloaf. They are so good too.
jamie Beecham - Feb 5, 2013
Thank you Faye makes me so very proud to be featured here today.
Faye Patterson - Feb 5, 2013
Ive really enjoyed your cake Jamie....have made it twice!!! :)
jamie Beecham - Feb 5, 2013
Thank you so much Janet for the wonderful review of cherries for Valentines Day and especially the way you wrote about my Cherry Smashed Cake.