Showing posts with label cherry dessert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cherry dessert. Show all posts

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cherry Almond Bars

Friday afternoon, I got around to making my recipe for the week (yummy cherry almond bars that are perfect for Saturday afternoon tailgating ...).  After I got the oven preheating and finished my prep, I started looking for the camera.

Oy.

It took me a good 20 minutes to find the camera ... which was sitting smack in the middle of my dresser, in plain sight..

And then, when I finally found the camera, I clicked it on, and the little orange "help me" light started blinking:  the battery was on the brink of death.   Awesome.

We have two batteries for the camera, so we used to keep one in the camera and one in the charger, plugged in and ready to go.  But then we ripped apart the den (where the charger lived) ... and, well, you can see where this is going.

I looked.  Honest, I did.  I pulled the baskets out from the TV stand and searched through the wires and cables stashed there.  I sifted through the stacks of stuff on the dining room table.  I went back to my dresser and checked behind my jewelry box ... thinking, foolishly, that the charger might have been close to the camera.  Finally, I gave up.

When Mr. Wendy got home, I asked if he knew where the charger had landed.  Big sigh.  No.  No, he did not.  But he would find it.

He searched through the cables and wires, sifted through the stacks, checked behind every box and bag and book in sight.  Finally, after about half an hour, he came into the den, the charger raised above his head in triumph.

"Where was it?" I asked.

He shook his head.  "You don't want to know."

Oh.

"It was in the battery drawer, wasn't it?"

Yes, that's what our life has come to.  Combined, we spent nearly an hour looking for a battery.  Without checking the drawer specifically dedicated to batteries.

The story provides a good context for this week's recipe.  Today, I'm tailgating with a group of friends.  I was tasked with bringing dessert.  I wanted to do something other than the usual chocolate chip cookie/brownie thing, but I wasn't sure what.  I turned to a stack of recipes I recently brought from my mom's house.  They're all culled from my mom's recipe box, some of them handed down from my grandmothers or passed along from neighbors long gone.

I settled on a recipe for cherry almond bars from my Grandma Mary Ellen's collection.  It's dated 1980, and the note in the corner says she got it from the Columbus Dispatch.  I figured it would be like a bar cookie, perfect for tailgating.  Alas, the finished product is more like a crumble.  Definitely something you eat with a fork.  But I really didn't have time to make anything else (either for the blog or for the tailgating).

The bars required a fork, but that didn't really slow us down ...

Thankfully, the bars are tasty as all heck, a perfect blend of buttery, sweet, and tart.  I'm hoping that my tailgating buddies won't mind crumbs and cherry juice dribbling down their shirts.  As for you, my friends, grab your forks and dig in ...

Cherry Almond Bars

Crumb Topping
2 - 14.5 oz cans tart red cherries (in water or juice)
2 Tbs. cornstarch
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
a few drops red food coloring

2 c. flour (I used half all-purpose, half white whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. sugar
1 c. margarine, softened
1 c. flaked coconut
3/4 c. slivered or sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400.

Drain cherries, reserving juice.  Combine cornstarch, 3/4 c. sugar, and reserved juice in a saucepan.  Whisk to remove lumps.  Bring to a boil.  Add cherries, almond extract, and red food coloring.  Bring to a boil again, remove from heat, and cool.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in margarine until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in coconut and almonds.  Pack 3 cups of the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and reduce temp to 350.  Spread cherry mixture on top of the baked base.  Sprinkle remaining crumbs over the top.  Return to oven and bake 25 - 30 minutes.

Allow bars to cool before you cut them.  Yum!


~~~~~~

Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mini Cherry Sponge Cakes

At my house, special days like Mother's Day call for cake. When I asked my mom what she would like for her Mother's Day dinner, I thought she would want a cake. Wrong! She asked for her favorite potatoes -- hash browns!


I was happy to oblige. But I still needed a dessert. The problem is that sometimes there just aren't enough people around to eat a whole cake.

So this time, I made a little twist on a Strawberry Shortcake -- Cherry Sponge Cake! Instead of baking an entire sponge cake, I piped little rounds of sponge cake batter and baked them. Then I topped them off with a cherry reduction and whipped cream. Mom was thrilled.

If you're in a terrible rush (who isn't?), you could probably get away with slices of a ready made frozen pound cake topped with thawed cherries and whipped cream. However, I have to say that the cherry reduction packed a punch of flavor. If you have never tried a reduction, don't be afraid. It's just a matter of cooking down the liquid so that the flavor intensifies. It's really easy!

You'll notice that there is no sugar in the whipped cream and very little sugar in the sponge cakes. The cherries were wonderfully sweet and more sugar wasn't necessary. However, if you try this without making the cherry reduction, you might want to sweeten the whipped cream.

Mini Sponge Cakes

2 eggs
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons sugar
5 tablespoons flour
3 heaped tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 400. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sugar.


Beat the egg whites until they hold a soft peak, adding 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of sugar when they begin to take shape.


Pour the egg whites on top of the egg yolks.


Mix the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder in a small bowl. Using a sieve or a flour sifter, sprinkle the mixture on top of the egg whites. Fold everything together gently. (Do not use a machine for this! Do not beat or stir.)


Pipe the batter onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper in 2 to 3 inch rounds. (You can skip this step and spoon the batter onto the parchment paper, smoothing it with the back of the spoon. It's not as pretty or uniform -- see below -- but once everything is assembled, no one will know the difference.)

Bake at 350 (note that you're lowering the temperature!) for 6-8 minutes or until they have baked through and are golden. If they're sticky to the touch, they need to bake a minute or two longer.



Cherry Reduction

1 bag frozen cherries
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water

Pour all ingredients into a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat immediately and let simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. (Note, brandy or a liquor could be substituted for part of the water.)

Assembly

Place one sponge cake round on a plate upside down. Spoon cherries and liquid on top of it. Spoon whipped cream over top of the cherries. Top each with one cherry.



Enjoy!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summertime Cherry Strudel


Do you remember Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence? I was so impressed by Tom's cleverness. He pretended that painting the fence was a special treat and managed to talk other boys into doing it for him. Not only did they take on his horrible chore, but they paid him with boyish trinkets for the opportunity!


I may recall the scene a little bit too well, because whitewashing the fence was a regular summer chore when I was growing up. I always wished someone would come by so I could lure them into painting the fence for me. But along with that unpleasant job, there was one thing that usually only happened once every summer -- my mother made cherry strudel. Apple strudel was a regular event at our house, but cherry strudel was a special treat.

Unfortunately, making cherry strudel involves a chore that ranks up there with painting the fence -- pitting cherries. It's a messy job at best, it stains your fingers and the juice spurts everywhere. I used a handy dandy cherry pitter that cut way down on the time involved, but if you happen to have someone hanging around whom you could lure into pitting the cherries for you, I say go for it!

Now, I have to admit, this is a lazy version of cherry strudel because I used boxed filo dough. It makes a delicate strudel and cuts prep time considerably. Be sure to thaw the filo dough overnight in the refrigerator first, though. Have all the other ingredients ready so the dough won't dry out while you work. You can cover it with a damp cloth to keep it fresh, but if you work at a normal speed (don't take a call from your long-winded friend) this doesn't take too long to do.

Cherries and apples create juices when they cook, so there has to be something to bind the juices. Instead of cornstarch or tapioca, most strudel recipes call for bread crumbs. It sounds odd, but it works. This time, on my mother's suggestion, I tried something new and used graham cracker crumbs. They worked very well.


Summertime Cherry Strudel


10 sheets 12x17 filo dough
2 cups pitted and halved fresh cherries
1/4 cup sugar (I used sweet black cherries, you may need more if you use sour cherries)
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla or brandy (optional)
6 tablespoons butter
powdered sugar

Mix the cherries, sugar, lemon and vanilla or brandy in a bowl. (If you're very lazy, you can skip this step. Watch for the ** later.)

Melt the butter and brush a little bit on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 350.
On an ungreased baking sheet, spread the first sheet of filo dough. Brush with butter. Lay another sheet of the filo dough on top of it and brush with butter. Repeat until you have ten sheets of filo dough.

Spoon the cherries onto the filo about an inch from the edge in a line along the long side of the filo. Sprinkle with the graham cracker crumbs. (** If you're not using vanilla or brandy, you can just lay the cherries in a line, sprinkle with sugar, sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and squeeze the lemon over top of it all.)

Roll the cherry end slowly, brushing the top of the filo as you go. Lay it seam side down on the buttered baking sheet and add one more buttery swipe to the top. Cut small diagonal vents along the top. Bake 25 minutes, brush with butter and return to oven for another 20 minutes. Sift powdered sugar over the top to dress it up -- and serve. It's good warm and cold!





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Here is the link to Avery’s website to help get you started.