Cherries are such a scrumptious treat that it’s practically mandatory to buy a weekly supply while they are in season. The deep reds and burgundys of Bing cherries, or the pink-flushed yellow of Queen Anne cherries are sweet, neat and have the great nutrition of all deeply-colored foods. And their stems even serve as their own handy little handles.
Try a handful of sweet cherries instead of high-sugar treats when you are looking for an afternoon snack, or set them out from the refrigerator for a cool summer evening dessert. And for more elaborate desserts, cherries and chocolate are an irresistible combination. Cherry pitters can remove the pits while leaving the cherries whole.
The California Cherry Board suggests storing ripe cherries in the refrigerator until ready to use and, as with all produce, wash them under cool running tap water before eating or using in recipes.
Bing Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 1 dozen cupcakes.
8 ounces butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup milk
1 1/3 cups pitted cherries, halved
— Preheat an oven to 400 degrees.
Cream together the butter and the sugar using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer 4 to 5 minutes, until fluffy and light. Slowly beat in the eggs. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa. Add this to the egg mixture along with the milk and mix just long enough to blend the ingredients, no more than 20 seconds. Fold in the halved cherries, no more than another 10 seconds.
Let rest 10 minutes, then fill greased muffin cups to the brim with the batter.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove and let cool 10 minutes before unmolding.
Bing Cherry Salad with Melon and Mint
1/2 small cantaloupe, seeds and skin removed, and cut into 1/2 cubes
1/4 honeydew melon, seed and skin removed, and cut into 1/2 cubes
1/4 cup minced fresh mint plus mint sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons light honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries
Juice of 2 limes
— Put the cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and minced fresh mint in a bowl and turn several times. Put the honey in a bowl with the lemon juice and stir until the honey dissolves, a minute or two. Pour this over the melons and turn several times.
Add the cherries, turning them in as well.
Pour the lime juice over all, garnish with mint sprigs and serve.
Fresh Cherry Upside Down Cake
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
1/2 pound (about 2 cups) Bing cherries, rinsed, pitted and halved
1/4 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (you will need 8-10)
1/2 cup (1 cube) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk
Whipped cream topping (optional)
— Preheat oven to 350.
Lightly butter or spray with non-stick spray, a 9-inch standard round cake pan.
For the fruit layer, melt the butter in a wide skillet, add the sugar, and stir until it is melted and begins to bubble. Whisk in the pineapple juice, stirring until smooth. Pour this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
In the bottom of the prepared cake pan, arrange the cherries cut side down in a circle, pressing down lightly to adhere. Add a second circle of cherries inside of the first ring. Place pineapple chunks in a circle inside of the cherry rings and another circle of pineapple chunks, if there is room. Place a cherry half (or halves) to fill in the center of the cake.
For the cake, beat the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla until smooth. Mix the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing until just combined. Pour batter over fruit and spread evenly.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes and invert onto a sheet pan. Drizzle any lingering caramel over top. Cut into slices and serve topped with whipped cream, if desired.
— Per serving without whipped cream: 452 calories, 5 g protein, 65 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat, 102 mg cholesterol, 167 mg sodium, 1.5 g fiber.
(California Cherry Board)