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Growing up, I remember chocolate as having a limited set of food friends. Peanuts, caramel, and marshmallows were commonly added to chocolate, but the stray box of movie theater Raisinettes was really the only time I had access to a chocolate-fruit combination. I guess I occasionally saw coffee-chocolate treats, though the idea of Mocha really came onto my scene with Starbucks' world takeover in the 1990s. So many staples of today's chocolate world—chilis and chocolate, wine and chocolate, even bacon and chocolate—were unfathomable, probably because the chocolate I was eating wasn't of the 70 percent variety. And its single origin was...Hershey's.
Now I have access to quality dark chocolate and I eat it with everything from candied ginger to salted toffee. I particularly love alternating handfuls of dark chocolate with tart dried cherries, whose extra intense red berry flavor pops against the silky, slightly bitter chocolate. It was my addiction to this flavor combination that led me to making Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal cookies.
Oatmeal cookies are my favorite autumnal cookie because they feel hearty and comforting. The oats add a nuttiness that contrasts with the pieces of smooth, rich chocolate and fruity cherries. These cookies are fat and chewy and full of flavor. Soaking the dried cherries in boiling water before adding them to the dough ensures that they stay plump and moist.
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