Chocolate Cherry Skillet Blondie + Vanilla Bourbon Frozen Yogurt {Gluten-Free}

When people tell me things like “I want to get an ice cream maker, but I don’t know if I’ll really use it” or “what’s a pizza stone?” or “I don’t have an oven” they seem a bit foreign to me. It’s not that I’m wealthy (very far from it) or a snob. It’s just that I grew up with a foodie dad.

With my dad, it wasn’t unusual to spend a Sunday afternoon baking cookies, churning ice cream, or making lasagna from hand-rolled pasta. We didn’t live anywhere too remote that necessitated making good food from scratch; my dad just loves to cook. The culinary gene must have been passed down from his mother, who we called Bubba and who made the best blintzes ever.

If cooking wasn’t on the agenda, my dad would get out his trusty Zagat guide and take us out to an off-the-beaten-path Thai/Japanese/Italian/French restaurant where I would often get to drink a glass of wine and feel very grown-up.

In the summer, we would often stop to pick up a flat of cherries from a truck by the side of the road and eat them, spitting the pits or stems out the window, on the way home.

It’s my dad’s birthday today, so I thought it appropriate to bake something celebratory and cake-like. I’m not much of a layer cake lady, so I made a warm, gooey skillet blondie doused with whiskey and studded with fresh cherries.

Despite his love of food, my dad is very health-conscious, so I sweetened this puppy with an unrefined cane sugar – fair-trade, organic muscobado sugar from Alter Eco, which has notes of maple, molasses, and butterscotch. The blondie is relatively low in butter, though the moisture and sweetness from the cherries keep is rich and gooey-tasting. A generous shower of dark chocolate shards melt into the batter, and a shot of bourbon adds a touch of boozy tartness. I sprinkle the top with crunchy sea salt flakes; they make this thing extra addictive.

The recipe is adapted from one I’ve been making regularly for the past couple of years: these Salty Bourbon Squares from The Vanilla Bean Blog. Sarah adapted the recipe for this goodness from The Settlement Cookbook, a book that details how to snag a man through tasty recipes. The way to my dad’s heart is definitely through tasty food and drink, a trait which clearly runs in the family. (Also: kittens.)

I make this blondie gluten-free by trading the AP flour for a blend of sweet rice, oat, and tapioca flours. And I add a touch of ground chia seed to make them chewy like a classic blondie. I changed the proportions of the original recipe to accommodate a mess of juicy fresh cherries, and stuck the batter in a skillet. It can be scooped out warm into mugs or bowls alongside ice cream, or cooled and cut into wedges to travel on picnics and such.

And I whipped up a super-easy frozen yogurt kissed with vanilla bean and bourbon because I learned from my dad and always have an ice cream maker in the freezer and ready to go. Greek yogurt and heavy cream make this the most voluptuous frozen yogurt ever.

Happy birthday, Dad!

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Cherry Bombs:

Roasted Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream with Bourbon and Chocolate
Chocolate, Cherry and Chèvre Cream Tarts (Gluten-Free)
Cherry Marzipan Scones

One year ago:

Roasted Tiny Eggplant with Muhammara and Feta

Two years ago:

Plum and Barley Biercake

Three years ago:

Zucchini Pesto Lasagna

Four years ago:

Tonic Water
Apricot Cherry Clafoutis

Vanilla Bourbon Frozen Yogurt

Start the frozen yogurt several hours before you wish to serve the blondies. Some bourbons can contain trace amounts of gluten, so seek out one that is certified gluten-free if you or your guests are highly sensitive. Ditto for the blondie.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups

1 cup (8 ounces / 240 mL) heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic blonde cane sugar (4.5 ounces / 130 grams)
pinch salt
2 cups (17.5 ounces / 500 grams) plain, whole milk Greek yogurt (I like Strauss the best)
3-4 tablespoons bourbon whiskey

In a small saucepan, heat together the heavy cream, vanilla pod and scrapings, sugar, and salt over a medium flame until hot and steamy, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cover and steep at least 20 minutes to infuse with the vanilla. Place the yogurt in a medium-sized bowl and whisk smooth.

Strain the cream into the yogurt and whisk to combine. Whisk in the smaller amount of bourbon, tasting and adding the remaining tablespoon if you want a more pronounced flavor. Optionally, chill this mixture for up to a day or two until you’re ready to churn, or put it right into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scrape into a container and store airtight in the freezer until firm, at least 2 hours and up to a month or two. For longer storage, press a piece of parchment paper directly to the top of the frozen yogurt to discourage ice crystallization and wrap or cover airtight.

Chocolate Cherry+ Bourbon Skillet Blondie {Gluten-Free}

Adapted from these Salty Bourbon Squares from The Settlement Cookbook via The Vanilla Bean Blog

You can use 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum in place of the chia seed, or leave it out altogether for a slightly less cohesive blondie (not an issue if you plan to scoop the blondie out of the pan). If gluten isn’t an issue for you or your guests, you can probably trade all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour (or rye flour!) for the total amount of flours here and omit the chia seed. Serve this warm from the oven scooped into bowls, or let it cool a bit more and cut into wedges. For square bars, bake in an 8″ pan, cool completely, and cut into 12-16 squares.

Makes one 8″ skillet; 6-8 servings

3/4 cup (4.25 ounces / 120 grams) unrefined cane sugar (preferably Alter Eco’s Muscobado)
1/4 cup (2 ounces / 55 grams) unsalted butter, plus 2 teaspoons for greasing the pan
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces / 75 grams) sweet white rice flour (Mochiko)
1/2 cup (2 ounces / 55 grams) gluten-free oat flour
2 tablespoons (.5 ounce / 15 grams) tapioca flour/starch
1 tablespoon (.25 ounce / 5 grams) ground chia seed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg (2 ounces / 55 grams)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon (or gluten-free whiskey if you are very sensitive)
1 cup (5 ounces / 140 grams) coarsely chopped dark chocolate (preferably 70% cacao mass)
1 1/4 cups (6 ounces / 170 grams) fresh sweet dark cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved
1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Grease an 8″ oven-proof skillet with the softened butter and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt together the butter and unrefined sugar over a medium flame until the mixture bubbles and the sugar is somewhat liquid, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl and set aside to cool for 10-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the rice, oat and tapioca flours with the ground chia seed, baking powder, and salt to get out the lumps.

When the butter is cool, whisk in the egg vigorously to break up the sugar which will have hardened back together a bit. Whisk in the vanilla extract and the bourbon. Add the flour mixture and stir until well-combined, then stir for 20 more seconds; this will make the blondie nice and chewy. Stir in 3/4 of the chocolate and half of the cherries. Scrape the batter into the greased skillet, and scatter the remaining cherries and chocolate chunks over the top.

Bake the blondie until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs but not wet batter, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly, then scoop into bowls and serve with the frozen yogurt. Alternately, let cool to warm and cut into wedges.

Leftovers will keep for up to three days at room temperature (though due to the moisture in the cherries I would recommend refrigerating the extras if your kitchen is very warm and/or humid).

44 thoughts on “Chocolate Cherry Skillet Blondie + Vanilla Bourbon Frozen Yogurt {Gluten-Free}”

  1. Don't tell me that you are a Russian descendant, too!!!!!! My hubby's family was from Russia, and when I got to the part where you mentioned Bubba & blintzes, I went "AH-HUH."

    Your dad is SO COOL, and his awesomeness shows through you & your blog, Alanna :)
    I love your arty photos; they are beautiful and they make me feel like I am with you in the kitchen.
    My husband will be so happy when I make this, not only because this looks delicious, but also because he can "finish" that bourbon whiskey afterwards. :)

    1. Haha – yeah! Blintzes are definitely the best Russian contribution to the food world, IMO – I could eat those for every meal of the day. Thank you so much for the super sweet words, Pang! Let me know if you give this a go. And for god's sake don't let your husband drink all that bourbon himself – save some for me!

  2. Sigh, your photos are absolutely wonderful – I know I always focus on your recipes so figured I'd throw that long overdue compliment out there. In the meantime just got a load of apricots so making your recipe for this instead: Apricot Crème Fraîche Tart with Honey and Pistachios.

    Sorry dad! But you don't have to share your Bourbon. And happy birthday.

    1. Oh my goodness, thanks so much for the kind words. I'm quite honored that you make my recipes, Katherine. Thanks for the nice note and I hope you loved the tart. :)

  3. Another gorgeous post. I'm always so inspired by your brilliant food photography. This is such a sweet tribute to your dad. And I'm waiting for my ice cream maker to arrive actually -I love kitchen gadgets! I can't live without them.

    1. Thank you, Allison! I'm honored that my images inspire you because yours are absolutely gorgeous. Now I'm majorly craving earl grey after reading your last post. I hope you love your new ice cream maker – can't wait to see what wonders you make with it.

  4. This post is so beautiful, Alanna — the action shots (they get me every time!), the lovely words about your dad, the idea of this incredible froyo, and blondies in a skillet (!!) All of it is wonderful.

  5. I was pretty much going to write exactly the same thing as Cynthia. I love this post so much and I can't think of anything that I want more right now than a skillet full of this goodness.

  6. This looks divine! Those chocolate chunks are literally jumping out of the screen at me! I'm sure my dad would love something like this as well! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Wait, you know people who don't have an OVEN? Is the SF bay real estate market really getting that bad? :) Anyway, this blondie sounds wonderful! Cherry and chocolate — such a perfect combination.

  8. You had me at "chocolate", seriously. But this dessert idea? Out of this world. Saying the title out loud already makes my mouth water (even after the massive lunch I just finished) and don't get me started on those pictures.

    Great to discover your site, definitely bookmarking this recipe and subscribing to your RSS. So much delicious inspiration!

  9. This is all so lovely–your dad sounds completely awesome. Happy birthday to him!

    Amazing recipe and photos as always. I never thought to make fro-yo more delicious with cream–for some reason I've had an either/or mentality about ice cream/frozen yogurt. But this halfway point sounds in.cre.di.ble.

  10. Your blogging and images are great! I was wondering if you could share your tip for shooting to get your hands in the shots…do you use self timers? Looking for a way to do this for some of my bookbinding shots. thanks so much and keep up the great work!

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