Sweet cherries are in season. Here are some of my cherry dessert attempts and winner.
The first summer my husband and I were married, we knew someone who knew someone who had sweet cherry trees. That someone had more cherries than they wanted, and since we loved cherries, we were invited to come and pick cherries from their tree. We were having fun, and ended up picking gallons of cherries.
Even after all those cherries, I still get excited for fresh cherries each summer. Eating cherries reminds me of boating. As a kid, we would sit in the boat and eat cherries while waiting for someone to take their turn water skiing or knee-boarding. So, the other day, when I picked up a few pounds of cherries from a cherry farm, I wanted to try making something that would not diminish the taste of fresh cherries.
My first dessert attempt was crepes with dark chocolate and fresh cherries. I was out of chocolate chips, but I did have a bar of Ghiradelli’s baking chocolate. I think it tastes good–in a strong, bitter sort of way. Also, a sugar-free dessert gets bonus points in my book. I made crepe batter. When I flipped the crepe over, I dropped a few little chunks of chocolate on the crepe to melt while the second side cooked. Then, I put the crepe on a plate, spread the chocolate down the middle, added some pitted cherries, and rolled it up.
It sounded like it would be delicious–dark chocolate and cherries, but somehow it didn’t taste right. Maybe I should have just succumbed to the idea that since dessert is usually sweet it needs a little sugar, but by then I was feeling stubborn. The cherries were sweet and I thought that would be enough, but they somehow just didn’t blend well with the chocolate. My kids devoured the rest of the crepes with fresh strawberries that Grandma sent from her garden. (Thanks Mom!)
My second attempt was a small cherry tart. I still was looking for a way to make the fresh cherry taste shine. I used my favorite store-bought ginger snap cookie, Murray Ginger Snaps, for the crust. (The temperature outside is 100 degrees here, and I really don’t want to turn on the oven to make my own cookies.) I used a store-brand whipped topping product for a filler, and put the cherries on top. (The store-brand whipped topping isn’t dairy-free, but the small amount of casein in it doesn’t bother my kids. There is another coconut-based whipped topping that is completely dairy-free, but I have not seen it in my local grocery store.) As for the tart, the ginger flavor overpowered the cherry, and the whipped topping tasted too sweet and fluffy. It was definitely not a winner.
In the end, the best sweet cherry dessert was created by my 14-year-old. It is very simple–pretzels and cherries. The family and I had traveled to a bluegrass show to listen to the band Cold Creek. It was an outdoor event and snacks were welcome. I had packed a bag of pretzels to munch on, and my sister came with fresh cherries from her own tree. As we sat there listening to the music and watching the little kids dance, my 14-year-old suggested we try eating a pretzel while eating a cherry, because it tasted like cherry pie. (Warning: you do need to have a little talent for manipulating the pit to avoid breaking your teeth). My kid was brilliant. The salty, crunchy pretzel blended perfectly with the sweet, juicy cherry. It doesn’t require any preparation time or baking. So, grab yourself some pretzels and cherries, turn on some nice bluegrass music, and sit back and enjoy a faux cherry pie. But hurry, the cherries don’t last forever.