The other day in the check out line while perusing the scandal sheet headlines, I realized the person in front of me and the one behind me were both buying big bags of fresh ripe sweet cherries. Voila. Cherry season has arrived. Spring is officially here and with it, the first little stone fruit.
Cherries are now in the superfood category since they have the dark-colored antioxidants which gives the invisible approval from culinary heaven to eat as many as you want. Naturally occurring pigments called carotenoids, natural antioxidants and anti-inflamatory, are the compounds that give foods their vibrant colors. Although I never needed doctor approval to eat cherries. I knew they were good for you, otherwise they wouldn’t have tasted so good.
So buy enough to eat fresh out of hand, then some for cooking a crisp or cobbler (easier than pie), muffins, and some savory dish like duck with cherries.
Here is the second most popular cobbler that I make after peach. The recipe came from my friend and home chef Rosmarie and she scribbled “The best!” all over it. It is perfect for early spring and fresh cherry season, which is very short.
While the peach cobbler has the biscuit batter dropped on top, this cobbler has little rolled out biscuits laid over the top for an entirely different look. You can substitute whole wheat pastry flour or white spelt flour if you want a whole grain top; you might need a bit more liquid if you use these flours.
It is served with a knock-out delicious rum whipped cream combined with sour cream to give it more substance. It can be made with fresh cherries in the summer and, most conveniently, frozen pitted cherries in the winter or if you cannot find a tart fresh cherry. This also works with half sweet cherries and half tart. If you want to make this with sweet cherries, such as Bing or Queen Anne, cut back the sugar by half.
If you love fresh cherries, be sure to get a cherry pitter and wear an apron to protect your clothes from splatters. Serve while still warm.
- Cherry Filling
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or apple pie spice mix)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Grated zest of 1 unsprayed lemon
- 4 cups pitted fresh tart cherries (about 2 pounds), or 2 -ounce bags frozen pitted cherries, thawed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- Biscuit Dough
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 2/3 cup cold heavy cream or half-and-half, plus additional drops, if necessary
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
- 2 tablespoons sugar, for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 400º. Arrange the fruit in a greased shallow 9-inch square baking dish, or 9-inch round ceramic baking dish. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, spices, and zest and stir. Place the fruit in the prepared pan. Toss the fruit with the lemon juice, then the sugar mixture. Dot the top with the cold butter.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl or food processor. Cut in the cold butter with a fork or by pulsing the processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make a well in the center and add the cold cream, mixing until just evenly moistened; do not overmix. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 6-inch square, dusting the top as needed to keep the pin from sticking. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into twelve 2-x-1 1/2-inch rectangles.
3. Arrange the little biscuits side-by-side on top of the cherries in the baking dish. It is okay if it is a bit uneven and there are small spaces (this lets the steam escape). Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the biscuit top is golden brown, puffy, and firm to the touch. Serve warm or room temperature with the rum whipped cream.
Rum Whipped Cream
Yield: 2 1/4 cups
- 1 cup cold whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons golden rum
- 1/2 cup cold sour cream
Place the bowl and beater in the freezer for at least 1 hour to thoroughly chill. Place the cream, brown sugar, and rum in the bowl. Whip on high speed with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold in the sour cream. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Excerpted from The Best Quick Breads, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2000, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.
Text copyright Beth Hensperger 2016
Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.