Everyday Food (June 2010)
We often buy ingredients having no idea what we'll end up doing with them (hopefully we're not alone!).
Such was the case last weekend when we picked up a bunch of fresh cherries while browsing the market. They were so beautiful and wonderfully red, we just had to have them.
So we brought them home, plunked them into fridge and there they sat. We had a handful of them, but we wanted to do something special with them. The problem, it seemed, with having such beautiful fruit is that you want to do something equally beautiful with it.
We think we did pretty well by the fruit with these cherry cobblers.
This is actually the first time we've ever cooked with fresh cherries.
How do we know? Well, we'd never pitted a cherry before.
We've eaten our fair share of fresh cherries, and we've used dried or canned cherries in plenty of dishes.
Having never pitted a cherry before, we were uncertain about how to best go about it. Going out and buying a cherry-pitter was not an option, as we have a kitchen gadget moratorium in effect.
Luckily, Fine Cooking has a great cherry feature in the June/July issue, focused mostly on savory dishes. In the back of the magazine they have an item on cherry pitting tools, with four suggestions for improvising one, using either a wooden skewer, a straw, a paper clip or a pastry tip.
We didn't have skewers or straws on hand, and if we had a pastry bag and tip, it was buried so far in the closet it would have taken us all summer to find it.
Instead, we used a wine stopper with a flat top and a sharp tip. We placed that stopper, point side up, in a bowl, and used it to pierce each cherry. Then, using an "S"-shaped paper clip, we fished out the pits. It was an easy process and went very fast.
Once you've pitted the cherries, these cobblers come together quickly and easily. The dough requires no resting or cooling time. You can easily make the dough and assemble the cobblers in under 15 minutes.
One note on the cooking time: The recipe calls for 45 minutes of baking, but we found that our cobblers were ready after 35 minutes. We'd just keep an eye on them if we were you.
The finished product is delicious. Sweet, summery cherries are complimented well by the flaky, biscuit-like topping. If we had a quibble, it would be that there's a lot pastry in this, especially for a summer dessert. So we might tweak the fruit-to-dough ratio a bit.
The only other thing that would have made them better is if we had plunked a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Sadly, we had no ice cream on hand. But we will the next time we make these.
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
- 2 cups cold heavy cream, plus more for brushing
- 3 pounds fresh cherries, pitted, or 2 1/4 pounds frozen cherries
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar. Using large holes on a box crater, grate butter into flour mixture. With a fork, stir in cream until dough just comes together. On a floured work surface, roll out dough to a 3/4 cinch thickness with a floured rolling pin. With a knife or biscuit cutter, cut out 8 to 12 rounds or squares of dough.
In a bowl, combine cherries, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla. Divide mixture among four 1- to 1 1/2 cup ramekins; top each with 2 to 3 dough pieces. Brush tops with cream. Bake cobblers on a rimmed baking sheet until biscuits are golden and juices are bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.