Dark sweet cherries make the most amazing jam. It doesn’t even compare to store bought jam. I just buy fresh fruit a lot of times before I even know what I’m going to make with it. My mind starts swirling with all the possibilities. Last week I made a coffee cake thing with cherry jam filling that I had whipped up. The jam had oozed out a bit and so I didn’t exactly lend itself to a pretty photo, but the cake was still delicious and the Hubs ate it all up for me; which I was glad because I was trying to avoid indulging in more of it. Usually if I park something wrapped in plastic wrap next to the coffee pot it’s fair game. Now the filling or jam I guess you could call it; ended up being amazing. I was dreaming of crepes this morning so decided to whip up this little breakfast treat and boy they are amazing.
The filling consists of taking cream cheese and sweetening it JUST a bit so it’s not too sweet but sweet enough that it pairs beautifully with the dark cherry jam. I love love love crepes. I don’t make them enough. They are so easy to whip up and I find making them one by one in the pan is strangely for me-methodically relaxing in an odd way.
Black Cherry Jam
2 lbs. fresh dark sweet cherries, washed, pitted and halved
1/2 Cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 Cup water
1/3 Cup dried tart cherries (optional)
In a saucepan combine the cherries, sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Heat the cherries over medium heat until they start to soften and break down a bit and the mixture comes to a boil. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch with the water and add to the pan and stir constantly until it becomes thickened. Remove from the heat using an immersion blender until mostly smooth but a little chunky still. Add in the optional dried sour cherries and allow the jam to cool.
Cinnamon sugar (for sprinkling over crepes)
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
stir together in a small bowl until combined.
Sweet Crepe Batter (makes about 10-12, 8 inch crepes)
3/4 Cup milk (2 % is fine) (room temperature)
1/2 Cup water (lukewarm)
2 eggs (room temperature)
3 Tbsp. melted butter (+ more for prepping pan)
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
1 Cup all-purpose flour
1. In a blender pulse to combine all the ingredients except the flour. Add the flour then combine for about 20-30 seconds. Cover the batter and let rest in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.
2. Heat a small (6-8 inch) non-stick pan over medium low heat and add a little smear of butter. Tip: I like to use the cut end of a stick of butter and quickly swipe over the surface of the pan. You’ll want to do this for each crepe.
3. Pour about 3 Tbsp. of batter over surface of your pan, pick up the pan off the heat and immediately swirl the batter (using a circular motion and tilting your wrist) in the pan 3-4 times until pan is coated with your batter. Set the pan back on the heat and heat until lightly browned; about 2 minutes. Use a bamboo skewer or toothpick to pick up the edge of the crepe and flip it over to the other side and heat until browned as well. Move your crepe to a large plate and stack your crepes between pieces of wax paper while you continue making the rest of the crepes.
Sweetened Cream Cheese
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbps. + 1/2 tsp. confectioners sugar
In a small bowl smear together with a small spatula or spoon until combined.
Assembling the crepes:
Smear a thin layer of the sweetened cream cheese onto a crepe and then spread about a Tablespoon of cherry jam over the cream cheese. Roll or fold over the crepes as desired. I folder mine in quarters. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the crepes right before serving.
*Store any leftover prepared/assembled crepes on a plate wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge.
Rhubarb. What do you do with it besides pairing it with the obvious; Strawberry. Pick anything sweet basically since it is tart. This quick and easy rhubarb syrup was a cinch to whip together. I just love the color as soon as it starts to leech out into the sugar water. I was going to use a cherry flavored seltzer when I came across the Hibiscus flavor instead. Both are subtle so you could go either way. I love pairing gin with summer flavors, but you could easily use vodka as well. Cheers to Summer!
(yield ~ 12 oz. )
1 Cup filtered water
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 Cups washed and chopped fresh rhubarb
In a small saucepan place the water, sugar and rhubarb. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and let stand until slightly warm. Once cool strain into a jar and keep stored in the fridge.
For Rhubarb curls:
Take a vegetable peeler and quickly run down the length of a rhubarb stalk. Dip the strip into the warm rhubarb syrup and then twirl around a plastic straw. Let the ribbons dry on a parchment lined sheet pan. Remove/gently slide off the twirls from the straws when dry. Use inside the drink or drape over the side of the drink.
Rhubarb Cherry Hibiscus Cocktail
2 oz. Rhubarb syrup (cold)
1- 1.5 oz. gin (depending on how strong you like it)
3-4 fresh dark sweet cherries, pitted and sliced in half
Hibiscus flavored seltzer (such as La Croix brand)
Fill a Collins glass with the syrup, followed by the gin, 1/2 glass of crushed ice, cherries, and top with seltzer.
Garnish with rhubarb curls as desired.
I remember parfait desserts being very popular when I was a child. We had this section in our cupboard for dessert glasses. My Mom always had cute little dessert glasses or parfait glasses for such things. It is true when they say you eat with your eyes first. For some reason there is something very inticing about a dessert with visual layers of differing textures and color. I love when you dip and drag your spoon down into the glass as you lift it up to take that first bite of all the different layers. These little desserts are perfect for a party when you don’t want to be fussing with cutting and serving. All you have to do is assemble them ahead of time and keep them chilled. If you use disposable plastic cups they are even better because you can throw them in the recycle bin when you are done and no washing!
I used my new Russian ball piping tip (#271) to pipe the stabilized whipped cream on top.
Black Forest Cheesecake Parfaits
Double Cherry Compote
3 Cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted
1/2 Cup tart dried cherries (such as Montmorency)
1 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
cornstarch slurry: 1 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp. cold water
1 tsp. vanilla
12 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1/2 C confectioners sugar
1 1/2 C heavy whipping cream, cold
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder
*Miscellaneous: you will need Famous brand chocolate wafer cookies for assembly
Fresh sweetened whipped cream (for garnish)
1 Cup cold heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder
In the bowl of a stand mixer whip the cream cheese with the paddle attachment until cheese is soft. Remove cheese with a rubber spatula into a separate bowl and set aside at room temp.
In the same bowl (no need to wash) place the heavy cream and chill the bowl with the cream for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes place the bowl on the mixer and add in the vanilla and the nonfat dry milk powder and whip with the whisk attachment until thickened. Add in the softened cream cheese and stir gently with the whisk attachment until incorporated. Spoon filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip. (I used an Ateco 809).
• Take about 1/2 package of Famous chocolate wafers and place in a large ziplock bag. Using your hands crush the cookies from the outside of the bag until they are coarsely broken (you don’t want fine crumbs).
• Place about 2 Tbsp. of the chocolate wafer crumbs into the bottom of each parfait glasses. I used 14 oz. “crystal cut” chinet brand plastic cups for my parfaits.
• On top of each chocolate crumbs layer, pipe a layer of cream cheese filling, then top with a spoonful of cherry compote. Repeat another layer of chocolate cookie crumbs, followed by cheese cake filling and then end with a spoonful of cherry compote. Top with a small amount of chocolate crumbs and then fresh sweetened whipped cream, followed by a fresh cherry with stem.
Note: For a nice decorative touch you can use a Russian ball tip # 271 to pipe your whipped cream.
Vanilla and cherries are BFF’s when it comes to flavor parings. I cannot resist cherry season, although you can make these cupcakes year round with quality cherry preserves-both used in the filling and the buttercream. Trader Joes has a great preserves they sell that is chock full of whole cherries. Make sure to pick a preserves that is mostly on the tart side- you don’t want one that is too sweet. I have been in the kitchen lately experimenting with cherry recipes. I’m working on a no bake cheesecake parfait recipe that is coming soon that uses both dark sweet and tart dried cherries.
Also, I’ve included a picture of some of the same cuppies with a vanilla buttercream decorated for the Fourth of July, if you want to use an American style buttercream- see the “Bonus” recipe below. Happy Independence Day!
I used an Ateco 829 tip for the piping on both cupcakes you see here
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Cherry Filling
yield: 24 cupcakes
2 1/2 Cups cake flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 Cups sugar
2 lg. eggs, room temp
1 1/4 Cups whole milk, room temp
2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
Filling: Sour Cherry Preserves (I like Trader Joes brand) it is chock full of whole cherries
Preheat oven to 350° F. Drop cupcake liners into two trays of a standard size cupcake/muffin tin.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated, stopping in between to scrape bottom of mixer bowl. In a pyrex glass measuring cup mix the vanilla bean paste and milk well. Mix the dry ingredients well with a whisk.
Add in one third of the dry mixture and mix until incorporated, then add in half of the milk mixture and mix until incorporated. Repeat with another third of the dry and alternate with the wet, ending with the last third of the dry mixture until batter is homogenous.
Scoop batter into lined tins filling 2/3 way full. Bake for 16 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool on wire racks.
Remove a small portion of the cake from the middle of each cupcake to allow for the cherry filling. An apple corer works well for this or (do as I do and use the tip end of an 808 Ateco piping tip). Fill each cupcake with cherry preserves making sure to try and include a whole cherry or two. Hint: a baby spoon works well for this! I’ve kept a couple over the years for this very job.
Decorate with the cherry buttercream and top with a fresh cherry. * Note: If you aren’t serving right away-wait to top with the cherry as the stems will turn brown while being chilled. You’ll notice in my pictures the stems are brown-it’s because I topped them and took pictures the next day.
Swiss Meringue Cherry Buttercream
4 egg whites
1 Cup sugar
3 sticks of unsalted butter, room temp
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 Cup cherry preserves
optional: 1-2 drops of deep pink gel food coloring
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla, then beat until smooth. Mix in the cherry preserves until incorporated. Note: If you like a deeper pink color you can stir in a drop or two of deep pink gel color.
Vanilla American Style Buttercream
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted
2 tsp. vanilla or vanilla bean paste
Beat the butter and add in a little at a time until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. For decorating- stripe the inside of a decorating bag with red and blue gel paste food coloring and use a open star tip for a swirled effect.
Cheesecake. Decadent, chocolaty with a burst of sweet cherries in every bite. Even the person who normally would shy away from eating dessert will usually go for a mini cheesecake as they are not much of a diet breaker being so small. They are literally like 4 bites of sweet nirvana. My child-who is not really much of a dessert person, devoured them. To be precise-imagine him taking one bite and then shoving the rest into his mouth. They are that good. You could dress these up even more by serving them with some roasted cherry sauce or ganache topping, but I kept them simple and topped with whipped cream and a fresh cherry.
Chocolate & Dark Sweet Cherry Cheesecake
yield: 12 mini cheesecakes
Cooked Sweet Cherries
Pitted fresh dark sweet cherries (cut into quarters to equal 1 1/2 Cups)
1 T water
1 T sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. water
In a small saucepan place the cut cherries, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of water. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until become softened. In a small bowl make a slurry by mixing the cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of water. Add to the cherries and continue to cook while constantly stirring for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat, place in a small bowl and set aside while you make the crust and cheesecake batter.
3/4 Cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
3 T melted butter
In a bowl mix together the crumbs with the melted butter.
Chocolate Cheesecake Batter
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 T Kirsch liqueur (optional)
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s)
1/2 Cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1. Prepare a mini cheesecake pan by rubbing the bottom and sides of each well with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Note: I’ve tried both spraying with non stick spray, and this preparation, and this works better. Firmly press a heaping tablespoon of the chocolate crumb mixture (recipe above) into the bottom of each well. If you don’t have a mini cheesecake pan, you can use a muffin pan and line each well with a foil type of cupcake liner.
2. Preheat oven to 325° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the softened cream cheese and sugar and cream on low speed until combined (I mix the entire batter on low speed to ensure no extra bubbles form). Add the vanilla, optional Kirsch, and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the cocoa powder and mix to combine. Add the melted chocolate and mix to combine. Fold in the cherries- you will see some red marbling at first but it will come together okay.
3. Fill each well to the top with batter-(takes about 1/4 cup) note you might have about 1/4 Cup batter left over depending on the size of your cheesecake wells. Place the cheesecake pan on a sheet pan and bake in preheated 325° oven for about 30 minutes, stopping after 15 minutes to turn the pan from front to back to ensure even heating. Note: the cheesecakes will rise quite a bit and appear to separate into a “cap” like appearance but don’t worry-they will shrink back down level once cooled. Allow cheesecakes to cool over a wire rack, then move to the refrigerator to chill completely. Top with sweetened whipped cream and garnish with a cherry.