Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chocolate-Cherry Panini

I love cherries! Growing up in the Philippines, my image of cherries were the canned Maraschinos. I thought they were terrible until I moved to the US about five years ago and discovered real cherries. The wonderful folks I lived with for a couple of years here and whom I consider my American family own fruit orchards… cherries, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots, you name it, was plenty. During summers, we’d have buckets of cherries and I would eat a whole bowl of cherries in one sitting. Life is a big bowl of cherries!

Cherry… this beautiful, fleshy, stone fruit is as lovely as its name. My favorite kinds are the Rainier, Bing, and Tieton. So naturally, these cherry varieties were what I used for this week’s Food Matter’s Project recipe that I am hosting, Chocolate-Cherry Panini. I chose this recipe because it is simple and is something that everyone would love. This can be served in a variety of ways… for breakfast with a big glass of milk or a cup of coffee, an afternoon snack with iced tea, or dessert with ice cream on top. Also, because of how creative FMP members are I am sure heavenly twists will come about. I have toyed with the idea of making a cherry compote and chocolate sauce to spread on toast. However, because I love cherries too much, I decided to stick with the original recipe so I can fully appreciate the real taste of cherries.

As good as I thought the panini was, I am not a big fan of eating toast and ending up with sore gums. Grilled bread grating against my overly sensitive gums takes away the pleasures of eating. Another thing I wasn’t so thrilled about was the use of dark chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I love dark chocolate and would gladly eat blocks a block of it any time of the day. Somehow, the combination just didn’t work very well for me.  

Because it seemed impossible for all three things to not turn out amazing/awesome/wonderful (really how can bread, cherries, and dark chocolate go wrong?) it was worthy of another try… and this time I was in love.

In my opinion, this is definitely the way to go. Rich, fluffy, buttery pancakes with melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and fresh sweet cherries. Pure summer breakfast bliss!

Please pardon the burnt pancakes… this is only my third time using my cast iron skillet and I am still figuring out how to not undercook or overcook things in it. Fortunately, the burntness just added character to the taste… not bad at all. Promise!     

How to Make a Chocolate-Cherry Pancake Sandwich

pancake batter (whatever favorite recipe you have… I made Alice Waters’ Buttermilk Pancakes, with a cup of blueberries)
butter, to grease skillet
sweet cherries, pitted and halved
semi-sweet chocolate chips

Prepare all ingredients and have everything set out for efficiency.

Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, put ¼ tablespoon butter in the pan. Pour ½ cup of pancake batter and wait for a couple of seconds until the bottom side is done and then flip the pancake. When the other side is done, move the pancake to a plate (underside up) and place chocolate chips on top. Make sure to move fast so that chocolate chips will melt on the still-hot pancake surface.

Place pitted and halved cherries on the pancake.

Fry another pancake and put it on top (topside up).

Serve immediately. Perfect even without extra butter, maple syrup, or honey!  

Here’s Mark Bittman’s original recipe as it appears in The Food Matters Cookbook.

Chocolate-Cherry Panini
Mark Bittman, The Food Matters Cookbook

Makes: 4 sandwiches              Time: 30 minutes

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 slices bread, preferably whole wheat 
1 cup halved pitted dark or sour cherries
4 ounces bittersweet chocolaye, chopped

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 4 slices of the bread on one side with half the butter and lay them, butter side down, on a baking sheet. Spread the cherries evenly over the bread and sprinkle with the chopped chocolate. Close each sandwich with a second slice of bread and butter the top sides. Cover the sandwiches with a second baking sheet, weigh down the sheet with something heavy, like cast-iron skillet or some cans of tomatoes, and let sit for 5 minutes.

2. Remove the weight and top baking sheet. Bake the sandwiches until the bottom of the bread is browned lightly, about 5 minutes, then turn and cook for 5 minutes on the other side. Cut each sandwich in half and serve warm.

Chocolate-Cherry Panino. Dessert--or breakfast--for one. Assemble one sandwich by filling 2 slices whole wheat bread with ¼ cup cherries and ½ ounce chopped chocolate. Put 2 teaspoons butter in a skillet set over medium heat. When the butter melts, put the sandwich in the skillet, cover it with a plate, and weigh down the plate as described above (or simply press down on it gently). Cook until the bottom of the bread is browned lightly, 2 to 3 minutes, lift the sandwich from the pan, add another teaspoon butter, let it melt, then return the sandwich and repeat on the other side. Eat immediately.

Hope everyone loved the Chocolate-Cherry Panini recipe!


  1. I think I have fallen in love. With this chocolate-cherry panini.
    I also love cherries. But I haven't had any in so long..

  2. This was amazing...thanks for picking it for the Food Matters Project.

  3. Pancakes make a lot more sense, you are right. Chocolate and cherry go together beautifully.

  4. thank you for hosting!

    i think making the pancakes was genius.

  5. Great pick Margarita - this recipe really pushed me to come up with something inventive :). Those pancakes look awesome!

  6. Looks like everyone enjoyed your pick! Sadly, I wasn't able to do it as I've been sick, but I just LOVE the pancake idea. How perfect! And those fruit orchards sound like a dream.

    1. i am also really happy that everyone loved it. i am sorry you are sick and hope you feel better soon so you can whip yourself and daniel up some chocolate cherry paninis!

  7. Hi Margarita! First of all, sorry about the loss of your friend. You really rallied to host this week.

    I love the pancakes you made, great idea and great pick! Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words Lexi...

      I made these and wrote this post a day before I heard the news.

  8. These pancakes are so summery and so packed with cherry flavor Margarita!

  9. Love the pancakes Margarita! Great idea.

  10. Pancake sandwiches?! So fun!

  11. So I didn't end up making this recipe whenever we did have it, so now I really must! This looks delicious and tasty. And I completely agree with the crunchy bread hurting the top of your mouth! Haha, funny things bloggers can mention!


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