Dessert cherries should be served simply and not cooked, several of the following recipes are accompaniments for raw cherries. Cooking cherries are however too sour to serve raw and they can be bottled in alcohol or a light sugar syrup, turned into jam or baked in classic desserts such as Clafoutis. For more ideas see “Fancy being a Cherry Grower” article.
Leche Merengada is a Spanish type of frozen milk shake, a light ice cream made with whites of egg only. When a chilled espresso coffee is poured over it is known as Blanco y Negro.
The flavour is quite subtle – cinnamon and lemon peel and it is this subtle flavouring that I particularly like and now often substitute for vanilla ice cream. In my version of the recipe you will see that I have reverted to an ice cream made that includes the egg yolks, with the beaten whites folded in during the freezing process – but it is up to you how rich you want to make your ice cream. It is wonderful with Pedro Ximenez poured over and also a great partner for cherries.
A Spanish dessert of leche merengada ice cream with iced coffee poured over it.
250ml/10 fl oz full-fat milk
250ml/10 fl oz whipping cream
Rind of 1 lemon, pared into broad strips with a potato peeler
1 cinnamon stick
150g/5½ oz caster sugar
1 tbsp brandy
3 eggs, separated
Chilled espresso coffee*
Ground cinnamon for serving
Put the milk, cream, lemon, cinnamon stick into a saucepan and bring steadily up to simmering point. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least 45 minutes.
Separate the eggs and whisk the yolks with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Pour the milk and cream through a strainer (to remove the flavourings) onto the egg yolk mixture. Whisk to combine and then return to the cleaned saucepan. Heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens slightly. Add the brandy and refrigerate until completely cold.
Whisk the egg whites until they hold their shape. Fold this into the cold flavoured cream mixture. Don’t worry if the beaten egg whites aren’t fully incorporated – just combine roughly and it will mix together as it churns. Churn in an ice-cream machine until frozen. If you do not have an ice-cream maker, pour the milk mixture (without the egg whites) into a shallow container and freeze until the edges are icy. Turn out into a food process and combine with the egg whites. Return to the freezer until the edges are again icy, then whisk in the food processor again. Repeating this process a couple more times as the mixture freezes will give the best texture, but do it at least sufficient for the egg whites to be smoothly incorporated.
CHOCOLATE DIPPING SAUCE
75ml whipping cream
150g good dark chocolate, grated or broken into small pieces
Knob of butter
This is very simple to make – just heat the cream and then stir in the chocolate until it has melted. Add a knob of butter and stir that in too. Serve warm with chilled cherries – or poured over a Knickerbocker Glory.
This is a French favourite. The cherries can be stoned first, but this takes time, especially if you don’t have a cherry stoner. If you are happy to leave the diner to remove the stones as they eat it is much simpler and they do add flavour to the dish. Dukes would be my ideal choice of cherry for this dish, which can easily taste bland if the fruit is too sweet.
Finally, although often served in individual terracotta dishes, if you use metal the batter will rise much better. Little frying pans are ideal. For a 20cm/7” pan you will need:
500g of cherries, stems removed
Approx 1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsps caster sugar
Cinnamon & nutmeg
60g plain flour
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/Gas Mark 4.
Grease the frying pan or metal dish with butter then lay the washed and de-stemmed cherries on top. Dot with the remaining butter and a tablespoon of the sugar. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile make a batter with the remaining ingredients (including the remaining tablespoonful of sugar). Pour over the cherries and bake for a further 20 minutes until the batter is puffed up and golden. Serve sifted with a little icing sugar and serve with thick cream.
1 lb/500g cherries
10 oz/250g granulated sugar
6 fl oz/175ml raspberry or cider vinegar
6 fl oz/175ml water
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsps pink peppercorns
½ tsp allspice berries
Wash the cherries.
Put all the remaining ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil. Put the cherries in and bring back to simmering point. Turn off the heat and leave to cool in the liquid before putting into sterilised jars.
Serve as an accompaniment to cold meats or terrines.
ALMOND TART WITH RASPBERRIES
This recipe came from the River Café. It is essential to buy good fresh almonds – Marcona preferably, rather than ready chopped. I usually serve it with raspberries, but it would also be a perfect accompaniment for cherries.
For an 11″ tart
8 oz/225g plain flour
5 oz/140g butter
2½ oz/70g caster sugar
1 large egg yolk
12 oz/350g unsalted butter
12 oz/350g caster sugar
12 oz/350g blanched whole almonds
- Make the pastry by combining the ingredients in a food processor. Wrap and chill for at least half an hour then roll thinly and press into the tart tin. Chill again whilst you heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Bake blind for 15 minutes until the pastry is just lightly browned.
- Meanwhile prepare the filling. Chop the almonds in a food processor until they are quite fine, but not powdered. Add the butter and sugar and blend then beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/Gas Mark 3. Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake for 40 minutes.
- When the tart is cool sift with icing sugar and serve with raspberries or other seasonal fruit and crème fraîche.