Last year, right around this time, I received a aawonderful surprise on my doorstep.
No stork delivering a baby or some long-awaited package from across the sea. Rather, it was my neighbor. He was wearing shorts, a T-shirt, a large smile … and holding up a grocery bag positively packed with cherries.
“From our backyard,” he said, hefting the bag into my eagerly awaiting arms. I smothered him with verbal appreciation, then promptly began Googling cherry recipes on my phone. After hours of pitting the cherries and two more deliveries of cherry-laden bags, the weeks that followed yielded many cherry-centered pies, crisps, cookie bars, and jams.
Full transparency: I love, love baking. But I’m a rule
follower, an ingredient exacter. When it comes to some of my favorite cherry recipes, they’ll never be creations of my own mind. Luckily, I know the right people with the perfect minds for cherubic deliciousness. Here are two of them:
Cherry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Yields approximately 30 cupcakes. Adapted from Martha Stewart by Leslie Katich
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose bleached flour (spooned and leveled)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup low-fat buttermilk, room temperature
3/4 to 1 1/4 cups cherries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare cupcake pans, measure out all ingredients.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk well. In a small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, and almond extract.
Cream butter in a third bowl. Scrape sides of bowl. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. This will take approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl. Bottom of the bowl should feel cold.
On medium-low speed, slowly add eggs, vanilla, and almond mixture. Mix until well combined, but do not over-beat.
On low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix until all flour is coated. Slowly add 1/3 of the room temperature buttermilk. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Alternate remaining flour mixture and buttermilk, ending with the flour. Mix just until it is combined. Do not over-beat.
Finely chop cherries and coat them lightly in flour. Add the cherries to the rest of the mixture.
Fill cups 2/3 of the way — do not overfill. Place in oven. Turn down heat to 350 degrees. Bake for approximately 18 to 22 minutes. Remove from oven when the cupcakes bounce back when pressed lightly with a finger.
Cream cheese frosting ingredients
8 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Cream cheese frosting directions
Beat butter with paddle attachment
Scrape the bowl and add cream cheese. Beat until combined.
Add the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat until smooth.
Bonus: Add 1/3 cup chopped cherries to the frosting, but make sure all liquid is drained.
Gay Stodtmeister’s cherry jam Ingredients
4 cups pitted, diced cherries
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1. Combine all ingredients in one pot.
2. Bring to a boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally.
3. Cook until thickened.
4. Pour into sterile jars, refrigerate, and use within six months.