Cherry Squares

My boyfriend’s been having trouble sleeping lately. He’s had too much roaming around in his head over the past few months that the idea of resting still with his thoughts seems lost on him.

I shouldn’t blame him, but sometimes I do – like at 2 am, when he’s keeping me awake with all his tossing and turning. It’s hard not to become a raging lunatic when you’ve been lying next to an eggbeater, your eyes burning into the back of your head from that distinct combination of frustration and fatigue. It’s even more difficult not to consider slipping a sedative in his supper when I’ve just spent all day exhausted because of his incessant bed-spinning.

The last three months have been his most difficult. He left his job back home to move to Ontario with me. We were naive enough to think that finding a new job here, in one of the biggest cities in the country, wouldn’t be that hard for him. Yet he waits, every day, to hear back from one of the couple dozen applications he’s sent out, hoping for good news. I come home from work, and he’s so lonely it’s sad. You can tell I’m the only human face he’s seen all day, because he’s so anxious to show me everything he’s done that day.

Then the night comes: he tries to numb his mind with video games and podcasts, but nothing seems to be able to calm him down enough to sleep. Eventually he nods off, but rarely before 3 am.

We tried over-the-counter drugs, with weird names like Sleep ‘N Relax, and even weirder ingredients, like catnip. They worked for the first few nights, although I’m tempted to think it had more of the placebo affect than anything else. Within a week or two, he was back to his irregular routine of 5 am bedtimes and 2 pm mornings.

Last week I was doing some research for work when I came across an interesting find. Cherries, apparently, are a natural sedative. Deeming this a far better solution than slipping some concoction into his pasta sauce, I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work and bought a bag of cherries. I knew that if I were to get him to eat them, I’d have to slip them into something he would find appealing. If anyone would have a good cherry dessert recipe, I knew it had to be my grandmother. After a little sifting through her old recipe tins, I found it. Scribbled on a blue recipe card was the answer to my problem: cherry squares.


2 medium mixing bowls
pastry blender
rubber spatula
9-inch baking pan
hand mixer


1 cup flour
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cold
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole fresh or bottled cherries
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 – 3/4 cup shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine flour and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Using a pastry blender, mix in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add salt and spread onto the bottom of a greased 9-inch baking pan to form a bottom crust.

With a hand mixer, beat eggs. Add remaining 1 cup brown sugar and beat until well combined. Stir in cherries, vanilla and coconut. Using a rubber spatula, spread cherry mixture on top of bottom crust in pan. Bake for 35 minutes, until squares are solid and lightly browned.