Monday, April 2, 2012

Sour Cherries

This post is wholly inspired by a large bag of frozen pitted sour cherries I bought at  Adonis.  Sour cherries are not an ingredient I get my hands on very often. When I spot fresh sour cherries at the market I like to pick up a pint or 2, but am often too busy with work to make a cherry pie (my all time favorite dessert). Sour Cherries are not in season here in Canada, but frozen cherries work perfectly in the following two recipes.

I needed to re-stock my son's muffin supply for school next week, and so I came up with Sour Cherry, Flax & Buttermilk Muffins.  Spelt flour makes yet another appearance along with flax seeds.  Sour cherries are not particularly sweet, and so I would not reduce the sugar.  If you must, play around with alternate sugars in the same quantity. Here is a little excerpt from Canadian Living magazine about the health benefits of sour cherries:
Modern research is discovering that sour cherries possess a compound that relives pain, and there is mounting research that sour cherries are one of the most powerful superfoods. They're rich in health-promoting, cancer-fighting, anti-inflammatory antioxidants, as well as high in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. And that's not all! Sour cherries are one of the few known natural food sources to contain the hormone melatonin, a mood enhancer and sleep aid.
Source: Canadian Living

The second recipe is probably the best crumble I have ever tasted! It is adapted from a Dr. Weil recipe.  Predictably the fat and sugar quantity have been reduced in this recipe, but I am excited to say so what!  This is a delectable crumble. I am not one to seek out low fat dessert recipes, but I am on a bit of a health kick right now and am trying to up the nutritional value in the food I am making. I like this recipe because some of the crunch comes from walnuts.  I also love adding almond extract to desserts, and I knew the extracts' strong flavor would pair well with the cherries. These 2 recipes are quick to assemble, and the results are more than worth the effort.

Sour Cherry, Flax & Buttermilk Muffins
makes 12 large muffins or 16 small muffins
  • 500 ml (2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) spelt flour
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) flax seed, ground
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 1 ml (1/4 t) salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) lemon zest
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 500 ml (2 cups) sour cherries*, pitted, quartered (fresh or frozen)
  • Sufficient quantity turbinado sugar
  • Pre-heat the oven to 190C (375F). To a medium bowl add the first 7 ingredients and whisk to blend. In another bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients, minus the cherries, for 1 minute until well blended. Add the wet ingredients and sour cherries to the dry ingredients and fold until just blended.  Scoop out batter into buttered or lined muffin tins, sprinkle each muffin with a pinch of turbinado sugar, and bake in the center of oven for 20 -25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin come out clean.
*I found my sour cherries in the frozen section of a Lebanese market.
Cranberry variation:  Add quartered cranberries instead of cherries and replace the lemon zest with orange zest.

Tart Cherry-Apple Crunch
adapted from a Dr. Weil recipe
  • 454 g (1 lb) frozen pitted tart cherries
  • 1 apple, cored and diced
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) light brown sugar
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) almond extract 
  • 15 ml  + 7 ml (1 1/2 tablespoons) corn starch
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) unsweetened cherry or apple juice
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) brown sugar
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) walnuts, chopped
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) grape seed oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) salt (optional)
  • Pre-heat oven to 200C (400 F).  In a bowl toss together the cherries, apple, brown sugar and almond extract. In a cup mix together the corn starch and the juice.  Add to the fruit mixture, stirring well. Pour the mixture into an 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) square baking dish. Mix together the remaining ingredients.  Distribute the crumble evenly over the fruit.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Serve warm or cold. 
Below is a link to a recipe from Epicurious, probably originally from Gourmet Magazine. I have made this cake many times as it was recommended to me by one of my Chef/Teachers at cooking school. Semolina can be found easily (cream of wheat).  This cake is easy to make, and is a great cake to serve with mint tea or coffee.  The sour cherry compote is meant to accompany the cake and is sooooo good!
Sour Cherry compote 
Semolina Walnut Cake

Here is another link to a recipe for a  No knead walnut tart cherry bread.   I think I will try it!

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