just desserts: cherries (give away winner announced)
Cherry. Innocent. Warm, sunny, summer afternoons. Plaid table clothes, baskets brimming with sandwiches. Pitchers of lemonade. Children running. Adults relaxing. Cherry pie. Wholesome.
Cherry. Hedonism. Sensuality. Naughty. Innocence lost. Sultry evening. Music pulsing. Bodies moving to the primordial beat. Hot. Inhibition eroded. Sexy.
Could any other fruit evoke such imagery? Sure there are peaches and melons, but there is not a single fruit or vegetable that could make us walk the tight rope between innocence and hedonism quite like the cherry.
Excited to still find cherries in my local market I took the opportunity to indulge myself. I began my epicurean journey innocently by making mini cherry pies. These are a delightful, light ending to any meal.
Feeling a little naughty I decided to snub my nose at September, the close of summer vacation. I wanted more summer. I made candied cherries. With large bins of apples in the market I had a desire for candied apples, but I would not make candied apples (not yet at least). Oh, delicious, mouth watering candied cherries. So easy to pop into your mouth one after another, almost guilt free.
The remainder of the cherries lay on table. Of course, I could just nibble at them as they were, but I had more sinister plans. I would open the bottle of “Pucker” I’d been saving for this moment.
“Pucker.” When I see that word I have visions of lips at the ready for an innocent kiss. But, the images change to blatant hedonism when the word is the name of vodka and one of the flavors of this vodka is “Cherry Tease”. I wasted no time in submerging any remaining cherries into a glass of “Cherry Tease” so that the next day I would have a delicious drunken cherry!
There has always been and, I suspect, will always be a fascination with those things that both express innocence and sensuality. It is, I think best expressed with this adult version of the “Shirley Temple” that the makers of “Pucker” call the “Flirty Shirley”.
Mini Cherry Pies
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
Put the flour, sugar and salt into a food processor or mixing bowl. Mix to incorporate. Add the butter. Mix until the dough is coarse. Add the egg and egg yolk. Mix to combine. Form the dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more.
12-24 cherries (pits removed) ¼ – ½ cups sugar Cold butter, cut into 12 or 24 small pieces (small enough to fit into the middle of the cherry)
Pre- heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough ¼ inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter (or a glass) to cut out 12 or 24 circles large enough to line each compartment of a mini muffin pan. Place the circle of pastry dough into the compartment and press down with your thumb.
Place 1 ½ teaspoon of sugar in the bottom of the pastry dough cup. Insert the butter into the cherry. Place the cherry into the cup (one cherry per cup). Sprinkle a little sugar on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Crust will be golden brown.
½ cup light corn syrup ¾ cup water 2 cup sugar ½ teaspoon food coloring (optional)
Place all ingredients into a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Place the mixture on the stove. Use a candy thermometer to test the temperature.
While waiting for the mixture to boil, line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. When the mixture is at 310 degrees it is ready. You will need to work fast to coat the cherries. Place the coated cherries on the lined cookie sheet to cool.
In a high ball glass mix:
2 parts Pucker™ Cherry Tease Vodka
1 part Lemon-Lime Soda
Dash of Grenadine