Category: cherry

Sweet cherry cream pie for the 4th of July.

Sweet cherry cream pie for the fourth of July.

There really isn’t anything prettier in the summer (in the U.S.) than seeing Old Glory flying proudly. Even better when accompanied by the sound of fireworks popping in the sky & the smell of burgers cooking on a charcoal grill. ‘Murica. F*$k yeah. Yet another thing that’s awesome about America: pie. Specifically, cherry pie on the 4th of July. Eff you, Arthur, you won’t spoil my fun!

This pie is a kind of cherry custard pie, being that custard is made from egg yolk & cream & that’s what you combine with cherries in this filling. A refreshing change from the ordinary cherry pies you see this time of year!

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Cherry “surprise” coffee cake (the surprise is cream cheese!).

Cherry cream cheese surprise coffee cake.

Indy and I are best buds. When Jay leaves for work at night, it’s just us. We watch TV, cook (okay, I cook), read, or cuddle in bed, sometimes blogging. He usually naps during those activities. However when I get up he follows me around relentlessly. Even waiting outside the bathroom for me. I call him my shadow. My 100-lb. shadow… & bodyguard.

Consequently, Indy is also my baking buddy.

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Cherry cardamom hot cross buns with a buttermilk icing.

SPRING!! YOU’RE FINALLY HERE! Oh, how we’ve missed you. You & your bright colors & beautiful flowers. All winter I’ve longed for a big bouquet of fresh buds on my table, and I can finally indulge. And indulge I have!

Besides after having such a rough few weeks I think we all deserve some brightness.

Ranunculus.

I think since early March, I’ve had a trillion vases & jars all over the house, filled with beautiful flowers. As soon as I started seeing blooms for sale, I bought ‘em. Those gorgeous ones pictured are ranunculus; some of my absolute favorites. But daffodils were a big one recently, and of course tulips. It’s so nice to have the snow be gone & the greenery back!

And now, a spring-y, Easter-y recipe to usher in the season of eggs, bunnies & flowers: hot cross buns!

Cherry cardamom hot cross buns.

I had to change ‘em around a bit, though. I made mine with cardamom and dried cherries, and the icing is a buttermilk icing. You, however, can use cinnamon instead of cardamom, and raisins instead of cherries, and milk or heavy cream instead of buttermilk for a  more traditional recipe.

Cherry cardamom hot cross buns!

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Cherry ice cream.

1950's beach bunnies- my grandma, mom & great aunt.My grandma, mom & great-aunt at Point Lookout beach in the mid-1950’s

It’s summer! It’s hot, sticky & everyone is heading to the beach. Because ice cream is as much a fixture in the summer as sun & sand, I find myself making more & more ice creams once the mercury goes up. It’s really easy, it’s fun to come up with recipes & ideas, & because I keep the freezer bowl for my KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment in the freezer at all times, I can make it pretty much any time the mood strikes.

As you (probably) know, it’s also cherry season. Cherries are everywhere. Or rather, they were in June, when I couldn’t walk past a farmer’s market or fruit stand without seeing bags & bags of gorgeous cherries. But I figure it being only July 1st, it’s still early enough to say that cherries are still “in season.” And what do you do when you pass those bags of cherries? Do you buy them or walk on by? Because I buy them.

Tons of them.

They’re too pretty not to.

Fresh cherries (ice cream recipe).

But then I’m faced with the rapid decline of such beautiful little red orbs, and I have to then pit every single one (or most of them) and in turn freeze them, bake with them, preserve them, booze-ify them or booze-ify them and then bake with them. Which isn’t a bad problem to have, really, considering. I mean… there are far worse complaints.

I didn’t know this, but cherries are actually a pretty old fruit. Prehistoric in fact:

The native range of the sweet cherry extends through most of Europe, western Asia and parts of northern Africa, and the fruit has been consumed throughout its range since prehistoric times. A cultivated cherry is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, modern day Turkey, also known as the Pontus region, in 72 BC.[2]

A form of cherry was introduced into England at Teynham, near Sittingbourne in Kent by order of Henry VIII, who had tasted them in Flanders.[3][4][5]

The English word cherry, French cerise and Spanish cereza all come from the classical Greek (κέρασος) through the Latin cerasum, thus the ancient Roman place name Cerasus, today a city in northern Turkey Giresun from which the cherry was first exported to Europe.[6]

- Wikipedia

Which means that people have been having this cherry problem for centuries! And by problem I clearly mean having far too many cherries & not knowing what to do with them all. But they probably didn’t end up making an ice cream as good as this one.

Vanilla cherry swirl ice cream made with fresh cherries.

Ice cream is a great vehicle for cherries, because they go perfectly with both vanilla & chocolate. This particular ice cream is actually a French vanilla with a cherry swirl, including some chunks of fresh cherry. It reminds me of an old fashioned ice cream parlor or a 1950’s soda shop. Or a day at the shore. It’s the kind of ice cream that you serve with a fancy spoon, in a parfait glass, or a sundae glass, instead of just a regular ol’ bowl.

Very summery.

Very yummy.

And also, very perfect for the 4th of July!

Delicious vanilla cherry swirl ice cream.

Super creamy & summery cherry swirl ice cream.

VANILLA CHERRY SWIRL ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1/2 cup (divided)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lb. fresh cherries, pitted & halved

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the cherries & 1/2 cup of sugar. Cook, stirring, until the cherries have started to break down & release juice, & the mixture thickens. You want a thick, jam-like consistency. Once it reaches that point, place the mixture in a bowl. Once it comes to room temperature, refrigerate.
  2. In another medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half until very hot but not boiling, stirring often. Remove from heat, set aside.
  3. Place egg yolks and sugar in a mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds, or until well blended and slightly thickened. Continuing on speed 2, very gradually add half-and-half and mix until blended. Return half-and-half mixture to the medium saucepan; cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge and mixture is steamy, stirring constantly. Do not boil.
  4. Transfer half-and-half mixture into large bowl; stir in whipping cream, vanilla and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 8 hours.
  5. Assemble and engage freeze bowl, dasher and drive assembly as directed*. Turn to STIR (speed 1). Using a container with a spout, pour mixture into freeze bowl. Continue on STIR for 15-20 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved. Slowly spoon in the cherry mixture until the vanilla is swirled with it. Turn off mixer & freeze in an airtight container until firm (8-10 hours).

*Directions given are for a KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment, follow directions on your ice cream maker.

Decadent & delicious vanilla cherry swirl ice cream.

Talk about delicious! And creamy.

It went pretty fast.

By that I don’t mean that it melted fast… but that it was eaten fast.

This vanilla cherry swirl ice cream is beyond delicious.

And it may seem as though there’s a lot of sugar, or that this ice cream would be too sweet. But you have to remember that the cold dulls the sweetness. Something that would be way too sweet when baked, wouldn’t be when frozen. If you’re using sour cherries, add 1/4 cup more sugar to the cherry mixture as you cook it.

You can also make the French vanilla ice cream alone, and omit the cherries. Or serve them on the side.

Or make some cherry bourbon chocolate sauce to serve with it.

Alternately, you can also make a vanilla frozen yogurt & use the same cherry technique to make it vanilla cherry frozen yogurt. Oh, the possibilities!

A recipe for an amazing vanilla cherry swirl ice cream. Perfect for summer.

Cherry bourbon chocolate sauce, please.

Want to know something sad? I can’t eat ice cream.

I know. It’s very sad. I shouldn’t say all ice cream, because some of them are okay- especially homemade or high quality ones. But most ice cream makes me very ill. It seems as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed a sort of lactose-intolerance, but only with ice cream. And with cereal I have to have Lactaid® instead of regular milk. Odd, I know, since I can have cheese, sour cream, whipped cream, cream cheese, milk in my coffee, heavy cream, etc and have absolutely no problem at all. But it’s come to my attention in a rather unpleasant way over the past few years that my carefree ice cream eating days are over.

Cherry bourbon chocolate sauce. Crazy easy, crazy delicious.

So to make up for this lack of sweet, creamy, cold deliciousness in my life, I buy frozen yogurt. If Jay & I go to an amusement park or something, and he gets an ice cream… I have to see if they sell frozen yogurt or else I’m totally left out. Like the diabetic kid who’s not allowed to have cupcakes at the school birthday, or the peanut allergy kid on Halloween. It’s sad & pathetic. And then I pout- because who doesn’t love a good ice cream cone? Crazy people.

Anyway.

Frozen yogurt is actually a pretty decent substitute for ice cream, and I do enjoy it. But sometimes you need to give it a little extra oomph, since it doesn’t really come in flavors like double chocolate fudge brownie sundae or peanut butter potato chip caramel swirl or whatever. And that my friends is what made me come up with this: cherry bourbon chocolate sauce.

Cherry bourbon chocolate sauce.Unf. I bet just looking at these photos, you wanna lick the spoon. Well, no, you can’t. Get your own.

I should state here that I made this sauce using bourbon that I infused with cherries myself. It’s very easy to make, it keeps forever and it’s delicious, so I recommend doing it. By the way: a tablespoon of it added to a cold glass of Coke is just perfection. Although you could also use regular bourbon or Red Stag.

CHERRY BOURBON CHOCOLATE SAUCE (adapted from Bon Appétit)

Makes roughly one cup

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cherry-infused bourbon

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine cream and brown sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves and cream just starts to boil. Remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in bourbon.
  2. Serve immediately, or transfer to a heat safe, airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week (IF IT LASTS THAT LONG!). To reheat all or part of the sauce, heat in a microwave safe container on defrost for 10-20 seconds or warm slowly on the stove top.

Cherry on top: a recipe for cherry bourbon chocolate sauce!

Some of this on vanilla frozen yogurt makes up for the fact I’m not eating real ice cream. As a matter of fact, it sort of makes it irrelevant altogether.

Here are some ice cream/frozen yogurt recipes for you if you’d like to make your own; French vanilla ice cream, peanut butter ice cream, lemon ice cream, almond ice cream & frozen yogurt.

Cheery lil’ cherry Christmas muffins.

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It never fails; every holiday season, I try to come up with different pretty little muffins and things that can go from breakfast to lunch to “snack time.” Whether it’s breads or loaf cakes or muffins or rolls, I like to have things on hand that can be grabbed at any time of day, whenever anyone pops in or decides they want one with a cup of coffee or tea… or a glass of milk. Because this is the time of year when people are always coming by, stopping in, etc. and you’ve gotta have something on hand to give these wandering wassailers, whether they’re coming morning, noon or night.

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Cupcakes don’t always go with breakfast. And they’ve also got a shorter table-life than muffins. Muffins last forever, it seems. And in the new issue of the Food Network magazine, there’s a buttload of inspiration in the form of a booklet with 50 muffin recipes! So I guess I’m not alone in my idea that muffins make great snacks for last-minute guests, eh?

A lot of the recipes sounded amazing, but the ones I really liked I had bigger plans for. So I gathered up some things I had in my cupboards- dried Bing cherries & white chocolate chips, namely- and threw ‘em into my favorite muffin recipe base. If I had had some pistachios, I’d have thrown them in there too. Pistachio goes well with both cherry & white chocolate. Oh- and cranberries would work just fine instead of cherries- both fresh and dried. The tartness of both cherries & cranberries work because of the sweetness of the white chocolate.

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WHITE CHOCOLATE CHERRY MUFFINS

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons set aside
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter — melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs – beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios (optional, I didn’t have any)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. and grease up 12 muffin cups or put liners in them (I prefer liners because it’s less messy that way).
  2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, stir together milk, eggs, cooled butter, and vanilla until blended. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add milk mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in cherries, then white chocolate chips. DON’T OVERMIX THE BATTER.
  3. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling them almost to the top; top each muffin with a sprinkling of sugar from reserved 2 tablespoons. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean.
  4. Remove muffin tin to wire rack; cool 5 minutes and remove from tins to finish cooling. Serve with whatever you like, whenever you like.

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The cool thing about the white chocolate chips in this case is that they don’t melt like semisweet or milk chocolate chips would. They stay whole, as do the cherries, so you taste each of them separately & get the texture too. That’s why the addition of unsalted shelled pistachios would be great! Not only would it make the muffins Christmas colors, but the texture of the three separate things would be awesome. Chewy cherries, thick white chocolate and crunchy-ish pistachios.

And they go great with milk & pretty paper straws, too.

Table runner custom-made for me by Yoyo of topstitch.org/topstitch.artfire.com

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Drunken cherry scones to clean out the pantry.

As of this past week, there’s a different feeling in the air. It’s crisp in the morning, and even when the sun comes out, there’s a little bite to the day that’s distinctly fall-like. And fall-like weather means more baking. The idea to make these came to me when I was faced with a shit-ton of open jars of jam in my refrigerator. I knew I had to use them up, and soon, and using them as accompaniment to toast, yogurt or English muffins just wasn’t cutting it. Not to mention the bags of Trader Joe’s dried fruit I had. So I knew I had to do something. I had to do something that would use up some of this- quickly.

Before you start, don’t even lie to me. Don’t even lie to me & tell me you don’t do this. Don’t even try to sit there, looking my blog straight in the face, saying “Nope. I never, ever have an exorbitant amount of ______ in my pantry at any given time that needs to be used up.” Because if you do I’ll know you’re nothing more than a bald-faced liar.

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EVERYONE has that problem. Everyone. Everyone in modern society has this conundrum. Unless you’re one of those people that live in those tiny houses and have one pair of shoes per family member and a bed that comes out of the wall. In that case, you most likely do not have the problem of too many boxes/containers/bags/bottles/jars of anything. If you’re one of those people, you most likely use all your open jars before opening another, and you don’t make/buy anything new unless the old stuff is used up. So if you are indeed one of those people, you probably don’t need to read this post, but please feel free to continue to do so because you might like the scones. Also, please write and tell me how all that is working out for you because I can’t fathom it. Seriously.

I can’t even imagine living without my extensive tea collection. My tea collection alone wouldn’t fit in those little houses. Forget about my shoes… or worse yet, my bags! Who am I kidding? My jadeite and appetizer plate collection wouldn’t fit in one of those houses.

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For the rest of us, those who live in regular-sized (or over-sized) houses & apartments (particularly those batshit crazy “extreme couponers” who buy 600 jars of jam for $.50 each with coupons when it’s on sale or those among us who like to pickle & preserve), we need things like this. We need to come up with unique ways of using up those preserves we buy or make too much of before they’re bound for the garbage. Despite my “if it smells good, and it looks good, it’ll still taste good” theory… some things just do have an expiration date. And I hate to waste my time and money by throwing anything homemade out. I even toss leftover baked goods outside for the birds & squirrels to nosh on, that way at least something is eating it, and it doesn’t turn out to be a total loss. So when my pantry starts to get overloaded with open bags of dried Bing cherries or or my fridge starts to be overrun with open jars of jams & preserves, I start to brainstorm ways to use them up so that they don’t end up going in the trash. And that is also why you’ve been seeing a lot of jam-filled or jam-topped desserts lately. I have to use all this stuff up! I’ve got new jars from this season and I can’t be letting my designated “preserves & pickles” cupboard overflow into the other cabinets. Then I’d really never find anything. Other than baked goods that incorporate my delicious jams, I don’t know how else to solve the problem. I already make small-batches. And trust me, I give more than enough of this stuff away. Oh… the trials & tribulations of the modern day cook. I guess I’ll just have to keep baking!

And that, my friends, is how you end up with drunken cherry scones. Well that and a post from Joy the Baker about cherry jam cookies. That in turn, made me think of jam scones.

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‘Cause see, people usually put jam ON their scones. So why not bake them with the preserves already on them?

This is my favorite scone recipe. It can be modified and redone in a million different ways- you can also halve it if you’re making single-layer scones. Last time I made it, I used chocolate chunks and despite being so simple, they’re everyone’s favorite scone. But you can do just about anything you want. It would be fantastic if you used a little lemon zest in the dough, omitted the cherries & sugar topping, then filled them with lemon curd. Bake ‘em, take ‘em out, let ‘em cool and top them with a light icing. Yum. The same thing could be done with an orange marmalade filling: just use a little orange zest in the dough, or use raspberry jam as filling and use chocolate chunks in the scones themselves. Or, you can just make plain scones & use a regular ol’ strawberry jam filling. You can also substitute raisins, dried cranberries or nuts for the dried cherries, and use any kind of jam, preserve or marmalade you want to fill them. They’re really that versatile. PERFECT for using up all those random edible thingies you have laying around. You can toss just about anything in them; chocolate chips, coconut flakes, dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit chunks, etc, etc, etc. Just like the muffins I made a few weeks ago, you can add or do just about anything with them! Go nuts. Use your imagination.

Or just stick with me & make drunken scones.

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DRUNKEN CHERRY SCONES (DRIED BING CHERRY SCONES WITH VANILLA VODKA CHERRY PRESERVE FILLING)

Makes about 8 double layer scones

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 cup dried Bing cherries (or Montmorency, or whatever kind you want)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs + 1 egg white
  • 1 jar vanilla vodka cherry preserves
  • Turbinado sugar (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400° degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate frozen butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in cherries.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.) Divide into four equal dough balls.
  4. Place two of the balls on a lightly floured surface and pat each into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Cover one circle with a few tablespoons of the cherry preserves. Gently lift the other circle and place it on top. Brush the tops with the egg white and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 4 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Repeat with the other two dough balls. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

For whatever reason, mine came out incredibly rustic & rough around the edges. Not that I’m complaining.

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And there you have it. Drunken cherry scones that pair perfectly with Bing Cherry with Almond tea from Davidson’s. It’s great to serve pastries drenched in alcohol at a tea party, dontcha think? Nobody ever expects it. It’s a pleasant surprise. I happen to think the very fact that the jam is already baked into the scones is a pleasant surprise too! And it also uses up some of that open jam in your fridge & those open bags of dried fruit in your cabinets that are rapidly expiring. And… if you’ve got an open container of heavy cream just sitting there in the fridge, why not make some whipped cream in a jar to serve with these? If not, then regular clotted cream works too. I myself would stick with some homemade whipped cream. I don’t like clotted cream (the name makes me think of blood clots; its clear I’m the daughter of a former FDNY-EMS Lieutenant and that I’ve watched way too many medical shows).

I find these are best served on/with vintage items, especially vintage jadeite, like this Jane Ray set that was my grandmother’s. I love vintage jadeite. Does anyone else have a jadeite (or Depression glass) obsession like I do?

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Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. I have so many other preserves in my fridge, it’ll take me at least another month to use them all up, even if I make two baked items a week with them. But it’s a step in the right direction. And for you: if you’ve got more dried fruit and/or nuts (heh, I said nuts) in your cupboards than you can handle, try your hand at making some of these dried fruit conserves. I’ve got a few different recipes and they’re all excellent with oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream and on pound cakes. And these muffins are amazing for incorporating not only jams or preserves, but also anything else you want to use up. So go get on it!

This recipe was featured on Redbook Magazine‘s online slideshow: “Boozy Breakfasts: How to Sneak Booze into your Brunch”, August 2013. See it here.