Life is not a bowl of cherries. It’s not like a box of chocolates, either, unless some of those chocolates happen to have bad timing, sinus infections and heartbreak at their centers. Do I sound bitter?
I thought I might feel better if I did a little baking (speaking of clichés). It usually works.
I’ve had David Lebovitz’s latest tome, Ready for Dessert in my possession for a few weeks now, but hadn’t yet given any of the recipes a go, aside from some of those that were previously published. It’s a gorgeous book, filled with the kinds of desserts I love to make and eat, desserts that are as delicious and satisfying and based on good ingredients (is this a cliché, too?)
Hello, Cherry-Almond Cobbler. When I saw it I knew I’d found my project. I also kicked myself for never having had this idea myself. It seems so obvious, and yet it has escaped me all these years. David, what would I do without you?
I broke out of my illness-imposed house arrest to get some cherries, which I knew were in abundance at the moment. Everything else I had, no small miracle. I bought a mix of cherries, deep red and yellow-rose Napoléons, returned home and took a brief nap, then dug out my pitter, changed out of my white T-shirt and put on an apron. I don’t take chances when it comes to cherry blood.
Many cobblers have a biscuit topping but this one comes together like a cake batter. It bakes into a fluffy lid, with some of the batter falling and surrounding the juicy fruit. If that doesn’t sound good to you than there’s really nothing else I can say. Best of luck to you.
You can bake it in one dish, but I wanted to use a set of orange ceramic bowls that recently came into my possession, from a friend who was purging in preparation for a move. I also now own a wok, a toaster, a years’ supply of trash bags, and a deck of Obama playing cards. I gave him my heart, he gave me a pen paper shredder? Cherry cobbler, Lloyd Dobler.
Other than changing the baking vessel (and aside from a little lemon zest added to the topping – couldn’t resist), I followed the recipe to the letter. This dessert will be part of my repertoire now, particular during summer when there is a perpetual supply of the stone fruits that marry so well with almonds. I think it goes without saying that this is best served warm, with ice cream, but I’ve gone ahead and said it anyway.
And did I feel better after a baking? A little. But it turns out that making something good for myself only makes me feel better when I wouldn’t rather be making it for someone else.
adapted from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz (10 Speed Press)
for the fruit:
6 cups (2¼# / 1 kg) sweet cherries, pitted
2-3 T sugar (30-45 g), depending on the sweetness of the cherries
juice of 1/2 a lemon
for the topping:
1 c (140 g) all-purpose flour
1½ t baking powder
1/2 t salt
7 oz (200 g) almond paste, crumbled (it should be soft, not old and dry and hard — trust me.)
1/3 c (65 g) sugar
1/2 c (4 oz / 115 g) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 t finely grated lemon zest, optional but good
1 large egg, at room temp
1/2 t vanilla or almond extract
1/2 c whole milk, at room temp (are you shocked I didn’t use crème fraîche?)
1. Preheat the oven to 350° (175° C). Toss the cherries with the sugar and lemon juice and put in a shallow, 2-quart capacity baking dish, or distribute among 6 individual ramekins (6-8 oz capacity) or other oven-proof dishes.
2. Whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the almond paste and sugar on low speed until the almond paste is broken up into very fine pieces. Add the butter bit by bit and continue mixing on medium speed until the mixture is smooth. Add the lemon zest, egg and extract and mix until incorporated.
4. Add half of the flour mix to the bowl and mix on low speed until just combined. Add the milk and mix another moment, then add the rest of the flour. Mix only until combined.
5. Distribute the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake until the topping is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, just like baking a cake. It took almost exactly 45 minutes both times I made it, but that doesn’t mean it will when you do.
Serve the cobbler warm, with ice cream. Vanilla is classic, but I think a contrasting fruit ice cream (i.e. peach) would be delicious. It’s best the day it’s made, though fine reheated the next day — the topping loses some of it’s fluffiness but that’s not a tragedy.
You can vary the fruit, substituting apricots for some of the cherries. I added lemon zest to the batter, because I love almond and lemon together, but I think some freshly grated ginger or the scrapings of a vanilla bean would be good, too.