A: Pull its tail.
Sorry. I never met a corny joke I didn’t like. Cherries are a different story. With apologies to lovers of Cherry Pie I must reveal that I can’t abide cooked cherries. Uncooked? Yes. Love ‘em. Cooked? I’ll pass. I think it’s a texture thing, although I think it may also be a taste thing too. Straight from the refrigerator they are so cool and refreshing. Why jump through the proverbial hoop of cooking them?
With all the fresh cherries now showing up in markets everywhere I know the expectation may be for one of those lattice-topped pies to appear in this venue, but I’m afraid the lattice work will, for now, be relegated to the trellis in the garden of my imaginary Hamptons beach house.
(One can dream, yes?)
In the meantime there are fresh cherries to eat. Here’s the thing though: If I’m sitting at home alone after a long day, I have no problem eating the cherries and spitting the pits into a small dish. But if there are other folks present I become self-conscious of such behavior. Perhaps I am overly sensitive. My friends and family are a non-judgmental group and wouldn’t take offense at a bit of cherry pit removal (a/k/a spitting), yet I still think there’s a better way.
Now, I know I said I don’t like cooked cherries, but that doesn’t mean that I hang up my apron during cherry season. The desserts that follow are baked, yes, but my dirty little secret is that I add the cherries uncooked at the end.
One obvious solution here is shortcake. We’ve been enjoying uncooked strawberries in shortcake desserts for eons, so why not extend that courtesy to cherries? But instead of making a sandwich of the fruit, whipped cream, and biscuit why not turn the whole thing on end and fill a jelly roll with slightly sweetened, kirsch-spiked whipped cream and serve sliced, pitted cherries on top? Folks who don’t like “boozy” desserts can leave out the kirsch, or substitute vanilla. You can also bake the jelly roll recipe as directed then instead of rolling it, slice it into squares and make your sandwich using that instead of the biscuit.
Don’t think that I am ignoring the cherry’s magical, symbiotic relationship with chocolate. Li-Lac Chocolates here in New York has long been famous for their Cherry Cordial chocolates. As much as I admire the fine work that goes into making an artisanal product like that, every time I bite into a Cherry Cordial I can’t help but wish that there was just chocolate and cherry but no goo in the filling.
Here’s my chance to make things – or at least cherries – the way I want them. I have married the best features of Cherry Pie to the best features Chocolate Bark (How do you make…oh sorry. I did that already.) Call it Cherry Cordial Tart.
I prebaked a bit of Pâte Sucré dough in a classic rectangular tart tin. Once the pastry cooled, I poured in a layer of gently melted good milk chocolate, then patiently lined up rows of sliced, pitted fresh cherry halves.
The gimmick is that you’re really making two desserts here. Eaten now, the lukewarm melted milk chocolate becomes like a sauce for the cherries. Eaten later, after a rest in the fridge, it becomes Cherry Chocolate Bark. (What’s amazing is how much more of it you can eat while the chocolate is still warm. It’s very smooth.) My illustration above shows a dab of whipped cream. It is totally unneeded, except to dress up the plate.
Another slightly more portable variation is to use a very simple shortbread cookie dough cut into two or three-inch rounds. Dip them in or paint them with the chocolate, and place the cherry halves on top.
As I write this, I feel compelled to run out and buy an ice cream maker (the late hour makes it unlikely that I will find a local store open. Hmmmm. The internet is still open…) What could be better than my fresh cherries swirled into home-made vanilla ice cream? I could swirl in a bit of the melted milk chocolate – the freezer doing a bit of passive labor to transform the slippery melted chocolate into chunks that would play a counter melody to the chewiness of the deeply chilled cherries.
(I’ll experiment and report back to you.)
Now that’s a dream that doesn’t have to wait until I get that Hamptons beach house.
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