Category: cherry

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.


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.



  • 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


  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.


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.


Makes roughly one cup


  • 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


  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.


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.


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.




  • 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)


  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.


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


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.


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.


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.


‘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.



Makes about 8 double layer scones


  • 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)


  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.


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?


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.

Cherry-bomb cupcakes for Julia’s birthday.

“The best way to execute French cooking is to get good & loaded & whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon Appetit.”
-Julia Child



I think every food blogger in the universe has been inspired by the book and the ensuing movie Julie & Julia; or at the very least thought, “Wow… that could happen to me!” But we love it not just because it’s a fabulous blogger-makes-good story, but because it involves Julia. The unflappable and beloved Julia Child, she herself who is an example of the very same path most of us food bloggers have taken: non-cook morphs into cook (or baker) and writes about it. And then- success! However, with bloggers, if we’re lucky we get one one-thousandth (or one one-millionth) of the readers that over the years have bought, read and attempted to execute recipes from Julia’s books. Julia was a pioneer in many ways, and her life was fascinating. Her relationship with her husband Paul reminds me a lot of my relationship with Jay; he was un-endingly supportive and encouraging of her in all her exploits & possible craziness. Of course he & I are not quite Julia & Paul Child clones- I doubt Julia ever had a mohawk and Paul was certainly never a cop nor was he in a death metal band- but seriously. Jay has humored me in all of my blogging lunacy, and it can also be said that without him there might not even BE a blog. And without Paul, there would have been no Mastering the Art of French Cooking. So yes, at this point it may seem cliche to love her and be a big fan of hers, but I can’t deny that I spent a large portion of my childhood watching the show Julia had on PBS with Jacques Pépin: Cooking at Home (as well as watching The Galloping Gourmet, the Frugal Gourmet & Yan Can Cook… remember those dudes!?). I always loved Julia, even before I knew who she was & how important she was. And whenever we were at my aunt & uncle’s house for dinner, my Uncle Pat used to do a hilarious impression of her while he cooked.

Well, today would’ve been Julia Child’s 100th birthday.

Child was born Julia Carolyn McWilliams in Pasadena, California, the daughter of John McWilliams, Jr., a Princeton University graduate and prominent land manager, and his wife, the former Julia Carolyn (“Caro”) Weston, a paper-company heiress whose father, Byron Curtis Weston, served as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. The eldest[3] of three children, she had a brother, John III (1914–2002), and a sister, Dorothy Dean (1917–2006).[4]

Child attended Westridge School, Polytechnic School from fourth grade to ninth grade, then The Katherine Branson School in Ross, California, which was at the time a boarding school. At six feet, two inches (1.88 m) tall, Child played tennis, golf, and basketball as a child and continued to play sports while attending Smith College, from which she graduated in 1934 with a major in English.[1] A press release issued by Smith in 2004 states that her major was history.[5]

Following her graduation from college, Child moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter for the advertising department of upscale home-furnishing firm W. & J. Sloane. Returning to California in 1937, she spent the next four years writing for local publications, working in advertising, and volunteering with the Junior League of Pasadena[6].

Child repeatedly recalled her first meal in Rouen as a culinary revelation; once, she described the meal of oysters, sole meunière, and fine wine to The New York Times as “an opening up of the soul and spirit for me.” In Paris, she attended the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and later studied privately with Max Bugnard and other master chefs.[15] She joined the women’s cooking club Cercle des Gourmettes, through which she met Simone Beck, who was writing a French cookbook for Americans with her friend Louisette Bertholle. Beck proposed that Child work with them, to make the book appeal to Americans.

In 1951, Child, Beck, and Bertholle began to teach cooking to American women in Child’s Paris kitchen, calling their informal school L’école des trois gourmandes (The School of the Three Food Lovers). For the next decade, as the Childs moved around Europe and finally to Cambridge, Massachusetts, the three researched and repeatedly tested recipes. Child translated the French into English, making the recipes detailed, interesting, and practical.

In 1963, the Childs built a home near the Provence town of Plascassier in the hills above Cannes on property belonging to co-author Simone Beck and her husband, Jean Fischbacher. The Childs named it “La Pitchoune“, a Provençal word meaning “the little one” but over time the property was often affectionately referred to simply as “La Peetch”.[16]

PBS announced an interactive celebration called Cook For Julia about a month ago, and I really wanted to participate. So I popped ‘Julie & Julia’ in the DVD player, flipped through Mastering the Art of French Cooking and got to work! ‘Cause see, I was debating doing a version of Julia’s cherry clafoutis, just with “drunken cherries” instead. That’s when I decided (as I often do) to go against the grain. And not just recreate a Julia recipe as they suggested, because everyone will be doing that… but instead, I made Julia some birthday cupcakes. That is, after all, what I do best. Cupcakes. For people in my family, every year, they get a batch of birthday cupcakes, and Julia should get the family treatment. Not only that but what better ingredient to use in a birthday cupcake than alcohol? Or even better… alcohol-soaked fruit?


Remember my bourbon cherries? Well the one month waiting period is up! And those little bourbon cherries are ready (and in turn, the cherry-infused bourbon is ready, too, but that’s another post).

I was thinking, what can I make with this stuff? I mean… a drink is obvious. Using the bourbon to make a glaze is obvious. And to plop one of these cherries in a cold glass of Coke is obvious, too. But I wanted to do something a little different. And after all, Julia loved to cook with liquor, and she even put it in the food sometimes. *wink*


So I decided to make cupcakes with those drunken little cherries instead of using them in a clafoutis! By the way, if you remember a while back (on my birthday, actually) I mentioned that those vanilla cupcakes were my new favorite- well, this is them. They’re moist with a great vanilla flavor and they aren’t cornbread-y.




  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 12 brandy-infused cherries (stems, pits & all- you can also use regular fresh Bing cherries, but if you do, substitute 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract in the recipe with either Kirsch, brandy or bourbon)


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir with a whisk lightly to incorporate. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter and sugar. Using the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Slowly add the vanilla (and/or Kirsch), milk and sour cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually mix in the flour mixture.
  5. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full. Push a cherry into each, keeping stem end up. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.
  6. Let cool 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Cakes can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature overnight.

Make sure, before serving, to tell everyone they still have the pits in them! No broken teeth for Julia’s birthday, k? It’s easiest to eat these with a spoon, that way you can eat around the pits… which brings me to what I served them with…


I served them with a some whipped cream in a jar, ’cause it just seemed like the right thing to do. It seemed like a delicious, fun, offbeat kinda way of topping these off, and just the kinda thing Julia would’ve approved of. It’s really cool, actually, and if you keep shaking it, you’ll get butter. Which also seemed incredibly appropriate for Julia.


We all know that long before Paula Deen, Julia Child was the Queen of Butter.



All you have to do is take a clean, empty 8-oz. jar. Fill it with 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar and two drops of pure vanilla extract. Close the jar tightly and shake! Seriously. Shake it. For anywhere from 2-3 minutes, vigorously. If you keep going, like I said, you’ll get butter. Then you can refrigerate it, add a little salt and shmear it on some toast. But if you wanna keep it at the whipped cream, be sure to check it after 3 minutes of shaking.

It has an amazing fresh taste. If you like your whipped cream on the sweeter side, add 1 full teaspoon of sugar.



They’re definitely an adult cupcake, not for children. You can definitely taste the bourbon, however it’s not overwhelming or overpowering at all. It just gives the cake and the cherry an extra added oomph. And the whipped cream on the side is just perfection. And as a matter of fact, it’s excellent to make at a dinner or a party. It would be so much fun to have your guests help you make it! Make the cupcakes, set them out, and then fill the jar with the ingredients. Then just pass it around, letting each person shake it. Then… voilà! Fresh whipped cream! And of course serving the entire kit & kaboodle with a cocktail made from the cherry bourbon is a must. Taking a swig or two while baking is probably even more of a must.

So that’s the end of my little tribute. I hope it’s something Julia would’ve been proud of. I can’t help but think that she would be… although seeing how she wasn’t a fan of Julie Powell (and her sometimes irreverent attitude) I don’t know if she’d much like me or my little blog. But it doesn’t matter. Because I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for her and all she did to pave the way for food freaks like me to feel comfortable talking about our dinners with such passion, our desserts with such gusto and our butter with such adoration.


Regardless of how she would feel about me, Happy 100th Birthday, Julia!


I love you, and as evidenced by this celebration, I think we all still love you. Bon Appetit!


Follow more bloggers as they #cookforJulia at the Twitter hashtag!

Very cherry berry cobbler.

I want to thank everyone for all the birthday wishes! I know I posted the other day but that post was set up to go off in case I wasn’t around, and I didn’t get the chance to personalize it. But I was blown away by all the e-mails, messages, Facebook comments, Twitter messages/replies, Instagram comments, etc, etc. that you all left for me. As a matter of fact, I had to turn the sound on my iPhone off! The notifications were going bananas. You all really know how to make a girl feel loved. You’re very sweet.

I’m officially 31 now, which either makes me the coolest 30-something in New York or a 30-something very much in denial of her un-coolness. Either way, I’ve got a new recipe for you. So let’s go with the former & say that this is the coolest cherry-berry cobbler made by the coolest 30-something ever.


And speaking of sweet, cobblers are the easiest dessert to make, ever. I know I say that a lot. And it’s usually true- most people just assume because something is homemade it takes forever to make & is either complicated or difficult… and they’re wrong. Homemade stuff usually takes no more time or effort to make than prepared foods. But really, this time it’s 100% true. Cobblers require very few ingredients, very little mixing, and basically no little ahead-of-time preparation. If you use canned fruit- it requires even LESS than no preparation. Less than no… is that even grammatically correct? I don’t think so.


Cobbler refers to a variety of dishes, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom, consisting of a fruit or savoury filling poured into a large baking dish and covered with a batter, biscuit, or pie crust before being baked. Unlike a pie, cobbler never contains a bottom crust.

Cobblers originated in the early British American colonies. English settlers were unable to make traditional suet puddings due to lack of suitable ingredients and cooking equipment, so instead covered a stewed filling with a layer of uncooked plain biscuits or dumplings, fitted together. When fully cooked, the surface has the appearance of a cobbled street.[1] The name may also derive from the fact that the ingredients are “cobbled” together.

In the United States, varieties of cobbler include the Betty, the Grunt, the Slump, the Buckle, and the Sonker. The Crisp or Crumble differ from the cobbler in that their top layers are generally made with oatmeal.[2] Grunts, Pandowdy, and Slumps are a New England variety of cobbler, typically cooked on the stove-top or cooked in an iron skillet or pan with the dough on top in the shape of dumplings—they reportedly take their name from the grunting sound they make while cooking. A Buckle is made with yellow batter (like cake batter), with the filling mixed in with the batter. Apple pan dowdy is an apple cobbler whose crust has been broken and perhaps stirred back into the filling. The Sonker is unique to North Carolina: it is a deep-dish version of the American cobbler. In the Deep South, cobblers most commonly come in single fruit varieties and are named as such, such as blackberry, blueberry, and peach cobbler. The Deep South tradition also gives the option of topping the fruit cobbler with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.


I am not above using canned fruit for a cobbler. In fact, it’s a really easy shortcut to use and if you do what I did, which is add fresh fruit to it, there’s no reason why anyone has to even know you used a can at all. I happened to have beautiful strawberries that I needed to use, so that’s what I added. You can also add some fresh blueberries or some fresh raspberries too. And by that same token, you can use canned blueberry pie or peach pie filling and add other fruit to those as well. You can use canned strawberry pie filling and add some fresh rhubarb during rhubarb season, too. There are tons of combinations and possibilities for this. Just be sure you use a can that’s 21 ounces, no less. You want a nice, thick cobbler bursting with fruit.

It looks spectacular. Tastes spectacular. And it takes like, 95 minutes total to make, including the baking & cooling time (which is roughly 80 minutes). That means total prep time is maybe 15 minutes. I made this a while back, yes, and people have been harassing me about posting the recipe since they first saw a sneak peek on Facebook. But due to summer activities I’ve been playing catch up with posts and somehow I’m a few weeks behind in posting. I think it’s because I have so many things I want to share with you guys and not enough days in the week! Someone get on that. Maybe give us an extra day somehow.




  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 21-ounce can cherry pie filling
  • 5-6 strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 275° F. Add butter to the 2-quart 8″ x 8″ baking dish (this would probably also work in a 9″ x 13″ dish as well, though it won’t be as thick) and place in the oven just until the butter melts. Meanwhile, mix sugar, flour & baking powder in a medium bowl. Add milk, stir until combined.
  2. When the butter is melted, remove the dish from the oven and add the batter. DO NOT STIR. Add cherry pie filling randomly on top, again not stirring afterwards. Place strawberry slices evenly on top of the entire thing. Return to oven.
  3. Raise oven temperature to 350° F and bake for 50-60 minutes or until cobbler is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack for 20 minutes before serving.

It will seem, upon removing it from the oven, that there’s too much butter on top. There’s not. Let it sit for the full 20 minutes and you’ll see that the butter absorbs into the batter and makes a moist, delicious, cakey border for the cherry-berry filling. And as it cools further, the butter gets absorbed even more. Don’t believe me? Look:


That’s why the 20 minute resting period is necessary. Everything has to settle & absorb & cool off just enough that you can eat it without suffering 3rd degree burns on the roof of your mouth. Don’t try and dig in as soon as it’s out of the oven. It won’t be set & it’ll make a mess. Have patience & give it the full 20 minutes it needs.

This cobbler is actually slightly more a ‘buckle’ than a traditional cobbler; especially in that the fruit lays more on top of the batter than the other way around. It’s also interspersed in the batter itself. It’s a beautiful dessert that comes together extremely quickly and yet yields a gorgeous & impressive result. It holds up really well, and gets better as it sits a while, so it’s great to make the day of a cook-out or barbecue. It’s just as good warm as it is room temperature. And of course, you MUST serve it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It’s mandatory.

I’m not at all a cherry or berry person (I did not make this for me), but even I can see the beauty & deliciousness of it. Come on. Seriously. How can you hate on this?

Just a word of advice: because of the high butter content, it doesn’t really refrigerate well. The butter sort of re-formulates and forms a firm layer of, well, butter. So I suggest you make this the day you’re going to eat it or serve it. Or, perhaps chilling it and then heating it up slightly before serving it would be a better option. But seeing as how I didn’t try it, I can’t say.

Happy cobbling.

Cherry bombs (sweet & boozy bourbon cherries).

I’m not a bourbon drinker. Not at all. I’m not really a whiskey girl either, although I do like my Jameson (& some Irish coffee now & then). I’m more a beer person- I’ll take a good quality beer over almost anything else, any day of the week. I do enjoy a nice bottle of wine now and then, too (I don’t drink the entire bottle myself, I swear) but I’m not an aficionado. I know what I like, and that’s all I need. However I know absolutely nothing about bourbon or whiskey, so when it comes to posts like this I have to usually ask for Jay’s assistance. I don’t know what’s good, what’s bad, or what tastes like gasoline, ’cause to me it basically all tastes the same.

Jay gave me a bottle of Blanton’s bourbon to do with as I wish a few months back. I think he was just tired of me hounding him asking what bourbon I can use (and god forbid I use the REALLY good stuff for baking or something). Blanton’s is apparently very good bourbon, and I’ve used it quite a bit, so I’ll be needing a new bottle soon. It all started with the bourbon pickles, really, but it seems there’s always something awesome to make that includes bourbon. Frosting, pickles, and now these cherries. They’re like the cherries that go on top of a very grown-up sundae.

(Speaking of Jay, today is our anniversary… 9 years! I love you, Hikesints! *wink* And thank you for my beautiful Tiffany & Co. present below…)

Back to the booze. So I went to my local fruit market and they had 2 lb. bags of big, beautiful cherries for the amazing price of $1.99. ONE DOLLAR AND NINETY-NINE CENTS. FOR A 2LB. BAG. Do you realize that in an average market cherries are around $5.99 a pound? I couldn’t pass up getting me some, although I didn’t have any idea what I was going to do with them. I figured, worst comes to worse, I can always make preserves or jam, or even a clafouti. But then I thought of an infused liquor, and I knew that’s the first thing I was gonna do. I’ve been wanting to try it for some time now, after seeing some at Punk Domestics.

If there’s one recipe on this blog that a trained monkey could make, this is it. It’s not even a recipe. It’s more like… just instructions I guess. And it goes a little something like this:

  1. Buy cherries.
  2. Buy bourbon.
  3. Wash cherries.
  4. Clean a jar. Any kind of jar, any size of jar that you want- depends on how many cherries you have/how much bourbon you want to infuse.
  5. Fill jar with cherries (stem on, pit in) anywhere from 1/2 – 3/4 full.
  6. Pour the bourbon over cherries.
  7. Put the lid on the jar, put the jar on a shelf (away from direct light), let it sit for a month.
  8. Drink.

That is it.

In one month, you’ll be drinking cherry bourbon. And also eating bourbon-infused cherries, if you wish. The cherries are excellent served with cheese on a cheese platter. Or you can take them out of the jar, pit them, and use them in clafouti or a tart. You can also plop ‘em on top of an ice cream sundae. The bourbon is great either straight up, on the rocks, or mixed with Coke, etc. If when you open it it isn’t sweet enough for you you can add a little brown sugar to the jar. Just close it and give it a shake.

You don’t have to use fresh cherries like I did. I’ve heard dried cherries work too (and Trader Joe’s has a great bag of pitted Montmorency dried cherries for a great price, although they’re tart so you might want to definitely add that brown sugar if you use these). And another great idea would be to put a vanilla bean in there, too. The type of bourbon you’ll want to use, as a general guideline, is one that isn’t top shelf, but definitely not a cheapo one. Any mid-range, decent tasting bourbon will do. The best thing to do is to taste it first. That way you’ll know if it’s worth using/drinking or if you should just use it to make Molotov cocktails.


I have to wait a month to open my jar & drink it, but I’ll keep you updated for sure.

Until then, please do me a favor and go buy a handmade item from TOPSTITCH: 100% of all the proceeds THIS ENTIRE MONTH are going towards The Remi Project. As you may know, both Yoyo from TOPSTITCH & Ariana from The Remi Project are very good friends of mine, so I’d really appreciate you helping out. If you’re unaware of Remi’s story, please go and read about it. He really is a miracle. Once you read it, you’ll see why it’s so important to help out by buying a key fob or donating. Not only that, but Ariana‘s dream is to open a rescue shelter, so by donating to help with Remi’s initial enormous vet costs & his ongoing care, you’re also helping to encourage her to achieve her dream. So buy a key fob for yourself, a covered composition book for your friend, or your kids. You’ll be helping a great cause! We have to start helping our four legged friends even more- they have no voice but ours. Especially on the heels of Lennox’s horrible & unfair death in Belfast, I think we all need to step back & stop thinking of animals as breeds & start thinking of them as living things with hearts & souls.

Because that’s what they are.

I know there are a bunch of animal lovers that read this blog, so I think you’ll all really want to help. And what’s better than helping out but also getting something awesome in exchange?!

Thanks a bunch in advance, guys!

Cherry-infused bourbon (& bourbon cherries). on Punk Domestics

“Double C” dark chocolate-almond conserves. And stuff.

I realized the other day that I never posted a photo of my new ‘do. Not sure how many of you care, really, but there might be another freak like me out there who’s interested in what a blogger’s hair looks like. It’s blonde now! Well the “long” part is. The “shaved” part is still my natural color, brown. After almost 2 full years of having not only the same hair color but my natural color, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a change.

Stunning, I know.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. And speaking of what I’ve been up to, this is what I did on Superbowl Sunday.

Well, this & go to Trader Joe’s. I love Trader Joe’s. It’s a magical fairy land of fun & exciting things to eat & drink & I love it. Football? Not so much.

But anyway… those are cranberry, cherry dark chocolate-almond conserves. It’s a mouthful, I know (pun intended). But how else can I describe something made with dried cranberry, fresh cranberry, dried tart cherries, honey, sugar, lemon juice, sliced almonds & dark chocolate cocoa powder? It’s just naturally a long-winded item. But honestly, doesn’t it sound good? Yeah, I know it does. And it makes a fantasmagorical ice cream topping, rice pudding topping, a fancy oatmeal topping or even great just out of the jar with a spoon. Ooh, or on those mini-coffee cakes! Here it is on some Chobani vanilla Greek yogurt.

But what exactly is a conserve?

A conserve, or whole fruit jam,[5] is a jam made of fruit stewed in sugar.

Often the making of conserves can be trickier than making a standard jam, because the balance between cooking, or sometimes steeping in the hot sugar mixture for just enough time to allow the flavor to be extracted from the fruit,[6] and sugar to penetrate the fruit, and cooking too long that fruit will break down and liquefy. This process can also be achieved by spreading the dry sugar over raw fruit in layers, and leaving for several hours to steep into the fruit, then just heating the resulting mixture only to bring to the setting point.[5][7] As a result of this minimal cooking, some fruits are not particularly suitable for making into conserves, because they require cooking for longer periods to avoid issues such as tough skins.[6] Currants and gooseberries, and a number of plums are among these fruits.

Because of this shorter cooking period, not as much pectin will be released from the fruit, and as such, conserves (particularly home-made conserves) will sometimes be slightly softer set than some jams.[7]

An alternate definition holds that conserves are preserves made from a mixture of fruits and/or vegetables. Conserves may also include dried fruit or nuts.[8]

I like to think of it as preserves, but with nuts. That may not be scientifically accurate, but it does the job just fine when explaining it.


Makes around 5 4-oz. jars


  • 4 ounces tart dried cherries
  • 5 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 5 ounces dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sliced almonds


  1. Sterilize jars & lids. Keep jars hot.
  2. Put cranberries & cherries in a saucepan & add water, sugar, honey & lemon juice. Heat on low, stirring, until sugar & lemon juice is dissolved. Add almonds & continue to cook, stirring occasionally until combined.
  3. Raise heat to medium-high and keep stirring to prevent scorching, until mixture thickens, fresh cranberries have popped open completely & dried fruits seem to be rehydrated.
  4. Add cocoa powder and continue cooking until mixture is thickened. Ladle into hot jars, leaving ½”-inch headspace. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Let cool, then check for seal.

You might notice when I’m canning I always have my jars on a towel. That’s because you should never put hot jars directly on a countertop or table; the change in temperature could cause the glass to shatter or crack, even slight cracks. And actually the worst can be really bad weakening of the glass which can cause future cracking or cracking during processing. The towel absorbs the shock better, and is of a more even temperature. Most countertops (like granite) & tables are much cooler than the jars, which is no good. So always have a tea towel or dish towel on your counter or surface for the jars to sit on (especially once they’re removed from the water-bath).

There are many other “canning basics” I’ve never gone into because, well, I’m not a master preserver. Nor is this a specifically canning-oriented blog. It’s mostly about baking; but yes I dabble in canning & also post stuff about cooking, etc. But I thought that maybe for some of you, this is the closest you get to reading a canning blog, so maybe I ought to give you a little background on water-bath canning basics. Water-bath canning is the most popular form of canning pickles, jams, jellies & both high-sugar/high-acidity food products at home. There are a lot of things you shouldn’t can this way, and that you need a pressure canner for, i.e. potatoes, beef/chicken/meats, stews, etc.  But since that’s out of my realm of expertise I’m going to stick to high-sugar/high-acid water-bath canning rules. Just bare bones, mind you. I can’t possibly go into temperatures & acidity & all that. I don’t have that kind of time, yo. For that I ask you travel on over here. But before that you can read these just to get an idea of what goes into a simple water-bath process, and maybe see if this is something you’re into.

  1. You must use canning jars if you want to “preserve” the food; meaning, if you’re making a jam & you’re going to put it in the fridge & eat it now, you can use a Tupperware or old spaghetti sauce jar no problem. If you want a shelf-stable product, you MUST use a jar specifically made for canning. Ball® & Kerr® are the most popular & cost-effective, Walmart sells some of their own brand too I believe, and for you fancy-pants out there, there’s Weck. Canning jars are specifically made to create a vacuum seal & can’t be substituted safely with anything else.
  2. You must have a deep pot. A lobster pot is what I use, but if you’re only planning on using tiny 4-oz. jars or the more shallow Collection Elite® 8-oz. jars (seen in the above photo of the conserves- it’s the large mouth jar to the right), then a deep pasta pot might work for you. Just remember: there must be one to two inches of water over the tops of the jars when they’re in the water. This is a must. You can’t just use a tiny little shallow pot that barely covers your jars.
  3. You must either have a canning rack or devise another method of keeping the jars off the bottom of the pot. Some people use dish towels folded up, some use a bunch of lid rings tied together, whatever. Buy it, steal it, DIY it if you want. Whatever works for you. Find a method that you like (or can afford) and go with it. As long as it keeps the jars from touching the bottom of the pot- you’re good. I like my plastic canning rack, but I don’t do large batch canning so it works for me.
  4. You need tongs with rubber or jar lifters. This may seem like it’s obvious, but I didn’t get any at first and then, when making my first batch of pickles I realized, “Holy shit these jars are fucking hot!” This isn’t an essential, meaning your jars won’t be ruined or inedible without it, but it certainly makes life easier. Who likes third degree burns? Not me.
  5. You need a candy thermometer. This isn’t really a must, necessarily, but I find it makes life a hell of a lot easier, specifically if you’re venturing into jellies & you especially need to know when it reaches that oh-so-important 220° F degrees. Because otherwise, you’ll end up with candy. Or syrup. Jams are more forgiving, as are preserves, but marmalades & jellies, at least I find, require a thermometer. The freezer test or frozen plate test isn’t reliable enough for me. You do not need this for making pickles or Giardiniere.
  6. You must have patience. Canning isn’t necessarily an instant-gratification process. You have to wait for things to set (you haven’t lived until you’ve waited a week for jelly to set, thinking the entire time those five jars might have been a waste of time, money & sweat), you have to wait for pickles to pickle, you have to wait for things to “gel” & cook, and you have to take the time to be careful about each process. At the same time, you must enjoy it. If not- don’t do it.
  7. Different things belong in different jars. Pickles (usually) go in pint or larger size jars. Jams & jellies usually go in half-pint or smaller. Yes, you can put bread & butter pickle slices in an 8-oz. jar & you can definitely put marmalade or jelly in a 16-oz. jar, but just remember: once you (or whoever you give it to) opens that jelly or jam, that’s A LOT to eat. You might end up forgetting it’s in the fridge & wasting it. I prefer smaller jars for the sweet stuff and larger jars for pickles or pickled veggies which not only are eaten more often, but last longer in the fridge. So think about that before you start & be prepared. The exception: peaches or fruit slices in syrup. For that, I’d use large jars.

Now keep in mind there is more that goes into it. Those are just the super basic basic basics of what you need to get started. I suggest you read the USDA’s website, get yourself the Ball® Blue Book Guide to Preserving & the Better Homes & Gardens book, You Can Can!; then thoroughly read through them. Between all of those things you’ll get an idea of the safety basics, must-haves & preparation, then I encourage you to peruse some sites like Hungry Tigress, Food in Jars & Punk Domestics to get an idea of what the possibilities are & what you can do. Then decide if it’s for you. It is not difficult, it’s not brain surgery, but there are definitely things you need to know before you start so you can do it safely.

Before you know it, you’ll be canning your brains out. Which sounds way dirtier than it really is.

Life’s a bowl of cherries.

Or not. Yeah, more like not.

Life is actually far from a being a bowl of cherries. Cherries are pretty, bright & usually perfect. Life is not. For one measly little example, I had an awesome photo of the cherries in the bag, looking all perky & red. And my camera deleted it. Or actually, I deleted it. By accident. *sigh* So that photo is from a website, I can’t take credit for it. I could’ve had a lovely picture of the actual cherries I used for the preserves, if I wasn’t such a knucklehead. Boo. An even better example is Hurricane Irene with her bitch-ass self. She placed 2 million plus people without power on the east coast of the U.S. alone. She caused many deaths in the continental United States, not counting the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, and the other places she blasted with her relentlessly slow-moving winds, rain & tornadoes. She battered us here in NY but we were lucky she was a tropical storm by the time she got here, or else things would’ve been way worse. As it is, so many people have died or are missing, let alone the fact almost half a million people on Long Island are still without power, and tons in New Jersey, Rhode Island, North Carolina, etc. If she was a person, I’d like to punch her right in the face. So no, life is not always a bowl of cherries.

But it’s okay, because while life may not always be as perfect as a bowl of beautiful cherries, you can eat a bowl of cherries. Or make cherry preserves. Better yet, make cherry preserves with an added kick- vanilla vodka.

(I came up with that part after realizing I deleted all the pictures on my memory card. Ha. Although this jam & the resulting cobbler was on my mind too… and I also figured we all needed a drink after Irene)

Cherries were on sale for $1.99 a pound. A DOLLAR NINETY-NINE A POUND. Normally, these particular cherries, Northwest cherries, are $4.99 a pound. How the hell could I pass that up? I could not. So I didn’t. I bought them & I made a small batch of preserves with some vanilla vodka. The vodka really only adds a subtle flavor, don’t be afraid of it. It’s not overwhelming or insanely vodka-y at all, it’s not even overwhelmingly vanilla-y. But add a little & go from there if you’re skurred. Or use vanilla extract or some vanilla bean seeds. Or omit that altogether, the preserves would stand just fine alone.

Be sure to wear gloves, dark colored clothing or a dark colored apron while doing this. Dark cherry juice splatters all over the place, and it stains.

I’m really bad with the foam-skimming thing, clearly


Makes 1½ pints or 3 8 oz. jars


  • 3 pounds dark red cherries, pitted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 4-6 tablespoons vanilla/French vanilla flavored vodka (any decent tasting, good quality vodka is fine; Skyy, GEOЯGI, Absolut, Grey Goose, etc)


  1. Put the cherries in a large, non-reactive pot on the stove. Using your (gloved) fingers, mash & crush them, but not totally, to release the juice.
  2. Add the sugar and lemon juice, and stir well. Turn heat on low and cook until sugar dissolves.
  3. Turn up the heat (I like to play with fire & go pretty high, but I don’t turn my back on it & stir when needed) and boil for around 25-30 minutes.
  4. Check to see if it’s set. If so, skim the foam and stir in the vodka very gently. Ladle into hot jars, wipe rims, place lids/bands and process for 10 minutes in a water bath. Let cool. Refrigerate after opening.

This can also be made & eaten right away, without the processing. One of my jars was eaten almost in totality as soon as it was cooled; spread on a few pieces of 9-grain bread. Generously. The rest? Well…

The cherries are so perfect they look fake!

Not one to leave well enough alone, I thought of Black Forest cake. I was going to just make some chocolate cake & spread this in between the layers, then frost it with chocolate frosting, whipped cream & some big, fat cherries. But I’m not a cake person. I like cake; don’t get me wrong. Who doesn’t like cake? But as the title of my website clearly states, I’m more a cupcake gal. So Black Forest cupcakes it is! Unlike German Chocolate cake, which is just named for Sam German’s Baker’s chocolate, Black Forest cake is an actual German dessert. So for my great-grandma Frances Sonnanburg (nee Hebrank), a.k.a. “Midge” (seen below with my grandfather as a two-year old baby in 1920), the infamous German baker of the family, here are my individually-sized versions of Black Forest cake. Deutschland über alles!

Black Forest gateau (British English) and Black Forest cake (American English and Australian English) are the English names for the German dessert Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (pronounced [ˈʃvaʁt͡svɛldɐ ˈkɪʁʃˌtɔʁtə]), literally “Black Forest cherry torte“.

Typically, Black Forest cake consists of several layers of chocolate cake, with whipped cream and cherries between each layer. Then the cake is decorated with additional whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings. In some European traditions sour cherries are used both between the layers and for decorating the top.[1] Traditionally, Kirschwasser (a clear liquor distilled from tart cherries) is added to the cake,[2] although other liquors are also used (such as rum, which is common in Austrian recipes). In the United States, Black Forest cake is most often prepared without alcohol. German statutory interpretation states Kirschwasser as a mandatory ingredient, otherwise the cake is legally not allowed to be marketed as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.[3]

The cake is named not directly after the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) mountain range in southwestern Germany but rather from the specialty liquor of that region, known as Schwarzwälder Kirsch(wasser) and distilled from tart cherries. This is the ingredient, with its distinctive cherry pit flavor and alcoholic content, that gives the cake its flavour. Cherries, cream, and Kirschwasser were first combined in the form of a dessert in which cooked cherries were served with cream and Kirschwasser, while a cake combining cherries, biscuit and cream (but without Kirschwasser) probably originated in Germany.

Today, the Swiss canton of Zug is world-renowned for its Zuger Kirschtorte, a biscuit-based cake which formerly contained no Kirschwasser. A version from the canton of Basel also exists. The confectioner Josef Keller (1887–1981) claimed to have invented Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in its present form in 1915 at the then prominent Café Agner in Bad Godesberg, now a suburb of Bonn about 500 km north of the Black Forest. This claim, however, has never been substantiated.[4]

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte was first mentioned in writing in 1934.[5] At the time it was particularly associated with Berlin but was also available from high-class confectioners in other German, Austrian, and Swiss cities. In 1949 it took 13th place in a list of best-known German cakes, and since that time Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte has become world-renowned.

Filling the cupcakes with cherry preserves…


What a great name that is, Black Forest. Anyway, these cupcakes are really crazy-simple. Dark Chocolate cupcakes, filled with this jam, topped with thick heavy cream-based confectioner’s buttercream and drenched in a chocolate sauce, then crowned with a cherry. Okay, they don’t sound simple. But they are. I promise. Just as simple as the preserves are to make, the cupcakes are. Use any chocolate cupcake recipe you like, use any vanilla frosting you like, fill ‘em up with jam in any way you like & frost ‘em however you like. Another option: cut the cupcakes in half & sandwich them back together using the preserves, then frost them. You could also use whipped cream instead of frosting.

These are not only some of the prettiest cupcakes I ever made, but definitely some of the simplest. And also the most gratifying, since they were made from scratch literally start to finish. I think great-grandma Midge & her German ancestors would certainly approve.