As I write this entry, I’m listening to the song Blame it on the Rain by Milli Vanilli.
You remember those guys… Rob and Fab.
I’m at a loss for a fun story to go along with this recipe. Here’s the dull reality: cherries were on sale at my Rock and Roll Ralphs and I bought way more than I’ll ever be able to nibble away before they go bad. I went looking for a recipe, found the only one that interested me at Smitten Kitchen, made it while burning What’s My Line? episodes off my DVR, talked stupid to my cat for half an hour, and went to bed.
Not much to really sink your teeth into, is there?
Would it help if I mentioned the mystery celebrity guests on WML? were Robert Wagner and Anna Maria Alberghetti? Anyone else remember Anna’s delightful Good Seasons salad dressing tv commercials from the 1970s? Anyone?
Didn’t think so.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this entry is that I’m actually listening to Milli Vanilli. Probably shouldn’t have led with my best. But I can still manage to tie it all together becasue I have found a mystery link that connects the disgraced foot-stomping braid-heads to the sweet, lovely, industrious cherry itself.
But you’ll have to read the rest of the entry to learn it.
Cherry Butter Bars
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup plus I tbsp all purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
- 1 pound sweet cherries (30-35)
CRUST: Preheat over to 375 Fahrenheit. Mix the melted butter, sugar and vanilla, using a fork or rubber spatula. Add in the flour and the salt and stir.
Ball the dough together and then place in a well-greased 8×8 square baking pan. Smitten recommends lining with parchment paper, but both stores I stopped at were out, so I greased the bottom and the sides well with butter. We’ll see how it plays out.
Press the dough evenly against the bottom of the pan. Is it strange that I find this part most enjoyable? Is it the feel of the soft dough against my fingertips, or the that it’s so easy to do?
Bake the crust until a lovely golden brown hue begins to appear. Smitten recommended 18 minutes, and that’s just what it took. Pull out and cool. Keep the oven on. There’s more fun to come!
FILLING: Use a handy cherry pitter to snap the pits right out of those babies. Wonder if this $13 gadget is good for anything else.
Cook the butter in a heavy saucepan until brown (about 5 minutes), Stir often to prevent burning. Pout it into a glass measuring cup and allow to cool.
Whisk together the sugar, both eggs, and salt in a bowl. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in the melted butter and continue to whisk until well-blended.
Arrange cherries on top of the cooled crust and pour the butter mixture evenly over them.
Bake for about forty minutes, but keep an eye on them. To test, just insert a toothpick into the center. When it comes out clean, remove them from the oven. Let bars cool completely and cut. Gently saw through any cherries that are on the cutting line.
As for the Mill Vanilli connection to cherries… here we go.
Milli Vanilli scored all three of their #1 U.S. singles in 1989, but it wasn’t long after their first hit Baby Don’t Forget My Number hit number one that the rumors about their lip-synching began. Nevertheless, Rob and Fab went on to win the 1989 Grammy Award for Best New Artist. When it was later confirmed that neither had sung a single word, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announced they would revoke the award. Contrite Rob and Fab suggested the trophy be given to the actual singers of the songs, but The Los Angeles Times urged the Academy to conduct a re-vote, allowing one of the other nominees in the category to be awarded the Grammy. And who were those other nominees, you may ask? None other than The Indigo Girls, Tone Loc, Soul II Soul and… wait for it…. Neneh Cherry!
Ultimately, no Grammy for Best new Artist was awarded that year.
Neneh Cherry had two smash albums.
Rob and Fab devolved into punch lines, then trivia answers, and finally, obscurity.
And I grew up to be a bourbon-drinking, What’s My Line watching, Rock and Roll Ralphs cruising freak who makes bad-ass cherry butter bars and can sing every tv theme song from the 1980s, and that’s without the need to lip-sync.