Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm smitten!

No one likes a copy cat. And I'm not...really. But I have fallen in love with a blog I've been reading lately. Smitten Kitchen. I finally sat down and went through her recipe index adding all kinds of things to my "must make" folder. I have just made two of her recipes and I thought I'd share them with you. Both involve cherries. I have a fondness for cherries that started in high school. I went to Germany with my grandparents. We were in a small, picturesque town visiting a friend of my grandmother. One of the daughters had a boyfriend who worked on a cherry farm. He brought over a gigantic bowl of the sweet fruit for all of us. It was the first time I remember ever really enjoying cherries. We just sat, enjoyed the beautiful scenery and ate cherries! When I saw that Smitten Kitchen had several cherry recipes, I jumped in my car, went to the market and bought a big bag of them. Here's the goodness that followed...

Saturday, I made Coconut Pinkcherry Yogurt. Sooooooooooo yummy. Soooooooooooooo easy. What I liked about this recipe is that there is no cooking/tempering. Nothing but adding the ingredients in a bowl and letting them chill in the fridge until it's time to churn! We decided that this frozen yogurt is similar in Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia - minus the chocolate and just a tad bit more tart. I think I'll play around with this recipe adding a little more sugar and a little more almond extract and some chocolate! The only thing on the down side was that my freezer froze the yogurt so hard that we had to chip off our servings. Other than that, delish!

Coconut Pinkcherry Yogurt
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop and Smitten Kitchen

Makes about 1 quart

3 cups Greek-style yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup cherries, pits removed and roughly chopped
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Mix together the yogurt, sugar, almond extract, cherries and coconut milk. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Today I made these fantastic Cherry Brown Butter Bars with the rest of the cherries I had. These bars baked up pretty fast. I haven't made many dishes with brown butter. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I have until today. The thought is that browning butter brings out a nutty flavor to any dish you're making. You have to be careful, though. The butter goes from brown to burned in a flash so watch carefully! These bars are tender and the brown butter really adds a depth of flavor to these little babies. All I can say is, "Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!"

Cherry Brown Butter Bars
Adapted from Bon Appetit and Smitten Kitchen

The recipe I drew inspiration from is a 9-inch fluted tart with raspberries that if early commenters are any indication, is nothing short of delightful. What I’ve hacked it into is something a little more casual and finger-food friendly, or in our case, easier to pack up and share with friends, you know, if we’re feeling generous. As for the fruit you use, no need to limit yourself to either cherries or raspberries — use whatever looks best by you right now, or whatever you have on hand. I bet you could even carry this into fall with apple or pear slivers.

Special equipment: Although not a prerequisite to make these, if you’re the type of person who has cherry pitter or even a removable-bottom brownie pan, this recipe will be even more of a cinch.

Makes 16 2-inch square bars (pictured), or 32 2×1-inch bars, if you, like me, prefer baked goods bite-sized

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 pound sweet cherries, which will yield 12 ounces of pitted cherries, which yielded some leftovers, perfect for snacking (alternately, you can use 12 ounces of the berry of your choice)

Make crust: Preheat over to 375°F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet.

Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl, or if you’re Deb, in the bottom of the small saucepan you used to melt the butter. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to your prepared pan, and use your fingertips to press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, about 18 minutes (it will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.

Make the filling: Cook butter in heavy small saucepan (a lighter-colored one will make it easier to see the color changing, which happens quickly) over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often and watching carefully, about six minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup to cool slightly.

Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.

Arrange pitted cherries, or the berries of your choice, in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake bars until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (though, of course, this took less time in my hyperactive oven so please watch your baking times carefully). Cool bars completely in pan on rack.

Use the parchment paper overhang to carefully remove cooled bars from pan and place them on a cutting board and cut them into squares with a very sharp knife. The cherries, if they fall over your slicing lines, will want to give you trouble but if you saw a sharp knife into them slowly before pressing down, they’ll cut neatly and with minimum carnage.

Do ahead: Can be made at least a day ahead, and stored at room temperature. Any longer, keep them cool in the fridge.


Anonymous said...

Hi! Great Blog!!! Love it!

Elizabeth said...

You would've LOVED Washington with me this summer ... Bing cherries galore. People pop 'em up there like candy. So fun.