Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hi Ho Cherry O!

I remember when I was a child eating juicy red cherries during the summer, and how the juice would stain my little fingers. Eating them was a little like eating sunflower seeds, trying to get the pit out, and then spitting them in to a cup. Biting in to a firm ripe cherry when the skin snaps in your mouth with its sweet and sour taste in the best. Cherries are in season now. Try one of these recipes and enjoy this juicy sweet fruit in a new way. The first recipe is very easy.  I made this for my daughter and her girlfriends and they ate the whole tart. The second recipe is a little more complicated, but don't let the steps scare you.  If you have a friend or child that likes to bake, then this would be a fun project to do together.  The results are simple and stunning. It's a perfect little dessert to bring to a party and it has star power.
Roll puff pastry out, keeping square shape.
Roll the edges in to form a crust.
Arrange cherries on top of almond mixture

Rustic Cherry Tart
(from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook)

Ingredients

Photo by Michelle Sherman
1 frozen puff pastry, from standard package (17 1/4 ounces), thawed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup almond flour
1 large whole egg
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream, or milk
1 pound red cherries, picked over, stemmed and pitted

    Directions

    1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a clean work surface with parchment, and sprinkle lightly with flour. Roll out puff pastry to an 1/8-inch thickness, keeping square shape. Roll up the edges, making a border of crust. Transfer the parchment and crust to a baking sheet, and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
    2. Place butter, 1/3 cup sugar, almond flour, whole egg, and almond extract in a medium bowl; mix until well combined.
    3. Prick entire surface of chilled crust with a fork. In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and heavy cream; brush mixture on the surface and edges of the crust. Using an offset spatula, spread the almond mixture evenly in an 1/8-inch-thick layer over bottom of the crust, and chill 15 minutes more.
    4. Spread cherries in a single layer over the almond mixture. Bake tart 15 minutes.
    5. Sprinkle remaining 4 teaspoons sugar over tart; continue baking until edges turn deep-golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature.

    Cherry-Meringue Bites
    (from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook)

    Photo by Martha Stewart/Omnimedia
    For the Swiss meringue:
    4 large egg whites, room temperature
    1 cup sugar
    Pinch of cream of tartar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    For the filling:
    1/4 cup creme fraiche or whipped cream (or vanilla pudding)
    50 (about 1 pound) cherries, pitted
    Confectioner's sugar for dusting

    Fill a medium saucepan one-quarter full with water.  Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring the water to a simmer.

    Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer; place over saucepan. Whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.  Test by rubbing mixture between fingers to ensure that no sugar remains.

    Attach the bowl to the electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes.  Add vanilla, and mix to combine.

    Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a 1 inch cookie cutter, draw 25 circles on each piece of parchment paper.  Turn paper over, and place on baking sheets.
    Preheat oven to 200 degrees, with two racks centered.  Fit pastry bag with a Wilton #16 star tip or other smaller tip, and fill the bag with the meringue.  Cover the bottom of circle with meringue, then pipe around the circumference of the circle, making a 1 inch high cup.  Repeat. Bake meringue cups for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 175 degrees, and bake until meringue is dry, but still white, 35 to 40 minutes more. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
    Either pipe creme fraiche or use a small spoon to fill cups. Or fill with whipped cream or pudding.  Top with cherry and dust with confection's sugar.

    Seasonal Foods