Archive for: cherry
There are many bland cakes, cookies and muffins out there that look picture perfect. And it is always disappointing when that flawless look doesn’t have the flavor to back up that first impression. Then there are other dishes that don’t look too appealing, but deliver a lot of flavor and you go back for more regardless of what it looks like. These Very Cherry Almond Muffins are on the less attractive side of the muffins that I’ve made recently, but their flavor more than makes up for their looks because they are simply delicious – especially if you are a cherry fan.
The muffins taste like a cherry and almond cobbler, and they are absolutely packed with cherries. They are moist, tender and have significantly more cherry flavor than most of the cherry muffins I’ve had. This is because I reduced some cherry juice and incorporated it into the muffin batter. This syrupy juice is a dose of concentrated cherry flavor – unfortunately, although it is very flavorful, it gave the muffins a slightly purple tint because that juice was an intense red color. Eating a purple muffin – especially when I knew that the color came from natural juices and had a ton of flavor – didn’t bother me one bit. It did, however, produce a few quizzical looks from people I served the muffins to, even though any reservations they had disappeared after that first bite.
I used almond meal and almond extract to get the almond flavor into the muffins. If you have some chopped almonds, you could easily sprinkle them on top for a little extra texture, although I sprinkled mine with some sugar for a sweet, slightly crunchy topping.
I used jarred cherries packed in juice for this recipe and reduced some of that juice for the cherry syrup. Frozen cherries will work just as well as mix-ins, although you might not get any cherry juice if you opt for frozen berries. You can either buy your juice separately, or opt for a non-purple muffin and use only buttermilk instead of the cherry reduction in the recipe. Alternatively, you could add a little red food coloring to make the cherries even more purple/pink and really make them look like they’ve been infused with cherries!
There are cakes that are good for special occasions, like holidays and birthdays, and there are everyday cakes. Everyday cakes should be easy to make when you’re in the mood to treat yourself, but they can come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. This Buttermilk Cherry Cake is just one example of a great everyday cake. It comes together easily and the cake is topped with a little sugar instead of frosting – and, most importantly, it is delicious.
The cake has a light, soft crumb and a nice buttery flavor, thanks to both butter and buttermilk in the cake batter. It is actually quite tasty on its own, but it is also a great backdrop for fruits and that is where the cherries come in to play. The cherries add bright pops of color and flavor to the cake. A little vanilla and almond extract in the cake batter also serve to highlight the cherries.
I like to keep jarred cherries packed in juice on hand for baking. They’re easy to work with in recipes like this one, as well as in pies and cobblers. Fresh cherries will work just as well here, just make sure to pit them before using them. If you have frozen cherries, you don’t need to defrost them before stirring them into your batter, but you might need to add an extra couple of minutes to the baking time, since your cake will start off on the cool side before it goes into the oven. And if you’re not a big fan of cherries, you can always use this cake batter with blueberries, raspberries or any other berry you prefer.
Rainier cherries are a unique type of cherry from Washington state that have a distinctive yellow skin with a pink or red blush to it. They’re a hybrid between two other types of cherries – Bing and Van cherries – and have been around since the 1960s. These cherries are a favorite with many cherry lovers because they are super-sweet, much sweeter than other cherry varieties, with an almost peachy note to them. They tend to be more expensive than other types of cherries because they only make up a small percentage of the cherry crop, and the cherries tend to bruise easily, which means that it can be difficult to ship them. The bulk of the Rainier cherry crop is produced in the Northwestern US, mostly in Washington and Oregon. They’re in season from mid-June through July, however, and that is the best time of year to look for them at markets.
Rainier cherries can be used in baking, and they will occasionally appear in cherry tarts and other baked goods, but they are really best when eaten raw where you can best appreciate their creamy texture and sweet flavor. If you do decide to bake with your cherries, you’ll find that they keep their texture very well after baking, and that they can add a beautiful pop of color to a cherry cobbler or other dessert.
When it comes to indulgence, it’s hard to beat a molten-center chocolate cake. Also known as a chocolate lava cake, these individually sized desserts typically have a liquid chocolate center that oozes out of the warm cake like hot fudge when you dig into one with a fork.
These Chocolate Cherry Lava Cakes were inspired by those cherry cordial chocolates that used to be so common in chocolate assortments. I used to love those for the burst of cherry that you would get when you bit into one and the experience is similar here – although I have to say that these are much more delicious than most of those cherry candies were!
Some molten-center chocolate cakes call for underbaking your cake batter to create a soft center. In my version of Molten Center Chocolate Cakes, I make a small ball of chocolate ganache and place it in the center of the unbaked cake. As the cake bakes, that ganache center liquifies and you end up with a completely baked cake with a soft, fudgy center. For this cherry variation, I added a splash of Kirsch (cherry brandy) to the cake batter and added some cherry preserves to the centers of the cake on top of those balls of ganache. The result is a warm cake with a slight cherry aroma and a burst of chocolate and cherry inside. Choose good quality preserves (I used Bonne Maman) that have chunks of fruit in them for the best results.
The finished cakes have a light cherry scent and a burst of chocolate and cherry inside. The Kirsch contributes to the cherry aroma, but you can easily omit it from the recipe without making any other changes if you prefer not to use it (or don’t have it). You can also make variations on this using different types of preserves, so long as you choose a fruit that goes well with chocolate!
A slice of fresh cherry pie that is freshly baked is just about irresistible – especially when you were the one baking it and your kitchen still smells like home-baked pie. Cherry cobbler and cherry crisp are right up there, too, when it comes to tempting cherry desserts. They’re easier to make and they’re always available when they’re hot from the oven (while cherry pies typically need to cool for the filling to thicken).
These Cinnamon Streusel-Topped Cherry Crisps are individual desserts that pack a whole lot of cherry flavor into a very small package. Juicy cherries make up the main part of the dessert, of course, but a crisp and buttery streusel topping is what makes it a winner for me. The topping is made with oatmeal, ground cinnamon and brown sugar, with some chopped pecans tossed in for extra crunch and flavor. A pinch of salt adds just the right amount of contrast to the topping, so you can really taste every element alongside those cherries. Almonds would also work very well in the streusel, as they tend to be a great match with cherries.
Cherries are a fruit that are typically in season late in the spring and summer, but they keep very well and I have them in my kitchen all year round. I keep frozen cherries in the freezer and jars of good-quality cherries (packed in cherry juice) in the pantry for any occasion that I might need them for. They both work just as well as fresh cherries will – and since they seem to release a little more juice than fresh cherries, you can even end up with a slightly saucier cherry crisp. Any kind of cherries will work, from sour cherries to black cherries. I personally tend to go with the sweeter black cherries, but a mix of different types will produce an outstanding dessert.
I like these best when they’re fresh from the oven, but they keep very well and leftovers are terrific for breakfast. I heat up my leftovers for a few seconds in the microwave to warm them up again before re-serving.