Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sour Cherry Heaven

I'm usually pretty good with directions. It's not necessarily that I have an inner compass and always know where I am, but that I like maps and when one is not available, I usually have my trusty Tom Tom GPS, which only lies to me when I set it to the Irish brogue. Once in a while though I get cocky and I decide that I don't need these aides and that I totally know where I'm going. These are the times I get lost. Not completely and irreparably lost, mind you, because I usually still know which way is east and the general direction of where I need to be, but the take-the-back-streets-the-whole-100-miles lost. I like to call that the "Scenic Route". Sometimes, it's even pretty.

Sour Cherries

That's just what happened last Saturday morning as I was heading out to meet some friends at my favorite (or the only one I know) cherry orchard, Curran's Orchard. I went up there last year by myself and then shared the pickings with some friends, whose daughter remembered me when they were making plans to head up there this year and insisted that I join them. Since picking with friends is way more fun then going alone, I agreed and we made plans to meet there at 9am. I woke up early, packed up the car with cookies and cupcakes for a housewarming I'd be going to after picking (aren't they cute? the party was an Alice in Wonderland theme) and set out, being absolutely sure I knew exactly where this place was. An hour and a half later, I found myself at my favorite strawberry farm....about 40 miles away from the cherry farm. Dang. So much for my memory.

The day was beautiful and the 45 min drive from one farm to the next was lovely, but I still ended up getting there an hour after my friends, who were almost done with their picking. Not to worry, they said, "we'll help you pick!" And that, by the way, is why I love my friends.

Sour Cherries

Unfortunately, the late frost had killed a lot of the blossoms this year, and the recent series of storms have brought down a few of the trees, so the crop was very light and everyone was limited to 20 pounds of fruit to give more people the chance to try it. That means there will be no cherry liquor this year, but there will be pie! And ice cream! And since I split my crop with my mom, there will also be lots of yummy pastry thingies that have no name which she makes and we devour. Mmmmm. I love sour cherries.

I will have some extra super exciting stuff to share with you later this week because while it's been quiet here, I've been incredibly busy bouncing off the walls in excitement over what I'm up to this week. I'll give you a hint: there will be lots of butter, sugar, flour and absolutely NO DISHES to wash! While you're busy guessing, if you find yourself with some of this year's highly sought after sour cherries you can try out this wonderful recipe:

Sour Cherry Clafoutti Tart 2

Sour Cherry Clafoutis
via Martha Stewart, June 2010 issue

Tart Crusts:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Coarse salt

2 large eggs
2/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Table salt
6 ounces sour cherries (about 1 1/4 cups), halved and pitted

1. Beat butter and confectioners' sugar with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add yolk, and mix until combined. Add flour and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt; mix until just combined.
2. Press dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
3. Set six 4-inch tart rings on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.
4. Cut out six 5 1/2-inch circles, rerolling scraps as needed. Press dough into bottoms and up sides of tart rings, patching any holes or tears. Trim excess dough flush with edges of rings using a knife. Prick bottoms of tart shells all over with a fork, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
5. Bake until pale gold, pressing down dough if puffing, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

1. Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees.
2. Gently whisk together eggs, creme fraiche, granulated sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of table salt.
3. Divide mixture evenly among tart shells, and carefully drop cherry halves, cut sides down, into each. Transfer to oven, and bake until just set, 17 to 19 minutes. Let cool.


Cal said...

Sour cherries remind me of my childhood! We didn't cook with them, but adults would make a liquor by steeping them in strong alcohol.

scrambledhenfruit said...

Cute cookies and cupcakes! I love the sweet cherries to eat out of hand, but nothing beats sour cherries for baking! I loved the story about finding the farm- my brain often does that to me too. So glad you have nice friends that will help! Thanks for sharing the story and the recipe. (Now if you only could share some of those cherries......)

Jessica said...

It's great to have friends, especially good ones, isn't it? Love these berries...yum! The clafoutis looks so good it seems like I could eat it right off my screen!


Anna said...

Cal, I made the cherry liquor last year, yum! This year the crop was too light for booze. Maybe next year. And if you remind me, I might even send you some :D

Scrambledhen, thank you, it's so nice to know I'm not alone :D

Jessica, I will not be held responsible for any damage caused to your monitor from licking the screen :D