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Brandied Cherries

My state of the art cherry pitter.

For years we had a big – I mean BIG – cherry tree, but eventually it fell to disease and we had to chop it down and plant another. That one didn’t reach maturity before we had to move, but by then I was hooked on having a freezer full of cherries. Now every year I wait like a cougar in a tree for the prices to drop: $6.99, $4.99, $3.99, then, finally last week, $2.99 a pound and I pounced!

Judy sneaking cherries

The California cherries are the first, then Washington state, then finally, fresh BC cherries from the Okanagan Valley, the inland, fruit and wine producing region of the province.  Sweet, dark and Juicy, this year they are very BIG – almost too big for my doubled barrel cherry pitter. Yes, I’m serious about my cherries.

I usually freeze them with a dusting of sugar (don’t judge me!) but this year I seemed to hear about brandied cherries at every turn. “Too much trouble,” I thought, but they did sound good – Christmas gifts, I rationalized – and I soon found myself in the liquor store, looking at Brandy.

“Use a brandy you would want to drink,” the recipe cautioned. But I knew I wouldn’t want to drink any of it. Then I saw the Sliivovica (pronounced Slivovi-ch-a) and was flooded with fond memories of travelling in Eastern Europe where every generous host brings out the Sliivovica. Not good tasting! But as a woman I could gracefully decline, and our Czech friend Peter could say he was driving, but my poor husband always had to drink a glass with the host – even at breakfast!

Those were the days.

So I bypassed the fancy French brandy and bought the bottle of the crystal clear Croatian Plum Brandy, the only brand of Sliivovica they sold. Peter had told us how as children, in plum season, they would collect prune plums on the way home from school and drop them in a barrel fermenting in the shed on the way into the house so their dad could make his own Sliivovica. We visited his house, family compound really, in a small Czech town where his Aunt and cousin’s family still live, and I could just picture it.

So I bought the bottle, and then was plagued with doubt as to whether it would work in my recipe. And, like most of my cooking attempts it had quickly become my recipe.

But oh my goodness! I tasted a bit of the liquor after boiling the cherries in it with the sugar, cinnamon stick and cloves and wow! It’s going to be amazing! Now if I can just wait the prescribed 4 – 6 weeks.

I might have to buy another bottle and make another batch. The cherries will be around for at least another week.

Let me know how yours turn out!

 

Print Recipe
Brandied Cherries
These preserved sweet cherries pack a wallop! Perfect on ice cream for desert.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 4 -6 weeks
Servings
1/2 pint jars
Ingredients
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 4 -6 weeks
Servings
1/2 pint jars
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pit and stem cherries and place in a large glass bowl.
  2. Mix brandy and both sugars in a sauce pan and stir. Add cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes until sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
  3. Pour over cherries in bowl and stir with a non-reactive wooden or plastic spoon or spatula.
  4. While the cherries are cooling, sterilize 7 - 1/2 pint canning jars and lids. (I put jars in a baking pan, pour boiling water into and around the jars to the half way point, and place in a 250° F. oven for half an hour. I boil the lids in water in a pot for 10 minutes.)
  5. Fill jars with cherries and brandy, Put on the lids and place in the refrigerator for 4 - 6 weeks. These jars are not sealed and cannot be stored out of the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

Those were the instructions. If you can wait! My tip - DON'T TASTE THE LIQUOR OR YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO WAIT.

I've never made them before, so I don't know what happens if you keep them in the fridge until Christmas - which is 5 months from cherry season. With all that sugar and alcohol I don't think they could go bad. Maybe soft? I'll try it and let you know.

Quick Fruit Surprise Muffins

Perfect for breakfast or tucked in a back-to-school lunch.

For me, September is all about keeping up with the ripening fruit from our garden. This year everything is ripening at once, so I’ve made peach jam, frozen figs to make leather later, pitted and frozen Italian prune plums and made Mostly Plum Jam from a mixture of other plums and the end of the blueberries.

It has even trickled into Starting Over, the story I’m almost finished writing, when Lily, trying to win over Marshall’s children, bakes them Fruit Surprise Muffins.

We’ve enjoyed these moist fruity muffins for years. I usually poke a frozen cherry in the center of each muffin, (that’s the surprise!) but since I’ve been working on plums this week, I made this batch with chopped plums. The original recipe calls for plums, but that has never stopped me from improvising!

Try them. I bet your family will love them.

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Print Recipe
Fruit Surprise Muffins
A delicious healthy muffin that keeps well.
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
large muffins
Ingredients
Wet Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
Fruit
  • 1 cup stone fruit drained, chopped, fresh or frozen. cherrie or plums are good.
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
large muffins
Ingredients
Wet Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
Fruit
  • 1 cup stone fruit drained, chopped, fresh or frozen. cherrie or plums are good.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Soak oats in yogurt
  3. Add oil, sugar and egg. Beat well
  4. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to moist ingredients all at once. Before stirring, pour fruit over dry ingredients. (Or add whole cherries at the end.) Stir to blend.
  5. Spoon into muffin cups. (I use paper liners.) (This is when I poke in the cherries.) Bake for 20 minutes.

Cherry Cake

I had a house full this week, my niece, her partner and their 5 children visiting and, it being cherry season here in BC, I took the opportunity to make my favorite Cherry Cake. It’s sort of like the French Clafoutis but the beaten egg whites make it more of a cake, less pie. And the almond extract makes it smell amazing!

We’ve been lucky to have a prolific cherry tree for many years and I make this cake form either fresh or frozen cherries.  Best eaten the first day – as if you could resist!

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Print Recipe
Cherry Cake
A light un-iced cherry cake bursting with juicy cherries.
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Wash and pit cherries.
  2. Separate eggs and set yolks aside. Beat egg whites until stiff. Set aside in another bowl.
  3. Cream butter. Add the sugar. Add egg yolks and almond extract and beat vigorously.
  4. Mix in flour and salt.
  5. Butter mixture will be quite stiff. Add a bit of the egg whites to soften, then fold egg whites into butter mixture. Do not over blend.
  6. Butter 9" X 9" baking pan (or slightly larger) and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Pour in batter and stud with drained cherries.
  7. Bake at 375° F. for 30 minutes. Cool and sprinkle with icing sugar to decorate if you wish.
  8. Enjoy.

Long Weekend Rhubarb Cake

It doesn’t feel like a summer long weekend to me without the rhubarb coffee cake my mother-in-law Betty always served at the cottage.

The Canadian and American July long weekends fall just a few days apart; July 1, Canada Day, the big 150 this year, and the Fourth of July. If your house is like ours, people are coming and going all weekend. We spent Canada Day at my sister-in-law’s lake house this year, and I brought the rhubarb cake as a tribute to Betty.

Sweet, not too rhubarb-y, it’s perfect anytime when you have a houseful.

Have a wonderful holiday!


Print Recipe
Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Everyone loves this sweet coffee cake.
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
13 x 9 pan
Ingredients
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
13 x 9 pan
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. - cream butter and sugar
  2. - beat in eggs and vanilla
  3. - sift together flour, salt and soda and add to creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk
  4. - toss rhubarb with 1 tsp flour and mix in by hand.
  5. - pour into buttered 13 x 9 pan
  6. - Mix butter, cinnamon & brown sugar and sprinkle on top of cake
  7. - bake for 45 minutes.

Macarons with White Chocolate & Raspberry

Print Recipe
Macarons with White Chocolate & Raspberry
Sweet treat anytime, but perfect for Easter. Much easier than I had thought, although there are a few steps.
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Chocolate Butter Cream
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Chocolate Butter Cream
Instructions
  1. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit a piping bag with 1/4” wide round tip. Place almonds and 1 3/4 cups icing sugar in a food processor and pulse until mixture is a fine powder.
  2. Place egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whip attachment. Beat egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and slowly beat in extra fine sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Now add the extract and food colour to this meringue and beat 1 minute more.
  3. Add almond mixture to meringue all at once. With a thin rubber spatula, cut down through the centre of the two mixtures and bring the heavy mixture back up to the top. Keep folding this way until this batter is completely smooth and falls off the spatula in a thin, flat ribbon, about 40 strokes.
  4. Transfer batter to the pastry bag. Vertically hold bag close to the baking sheet, and then pipe 24, 1 1/2” circles of batter on each one, spacing them about 1” apart. Firmly tap each baking sheet against the counter to release air bubbles in the batter. Let cookies sit at room temperature 30 to 60 minutes, until the tops are no longer sticky when gently touched with your finger.
  5. Preheat oven to 325˚F using regular heat, not convection. Bake cookies, one sheet at time, 15 minutes, or until risen and crisp. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.
  6. To make butter cream filling, place chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and set over a pot of simmering water. Mix until melted and blended together. Remove bowl from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  7. In another bowl, beat butter and 1 1/4 cups icing sugar until well blended. Slowly mix in melted chocolate mixture and beat until well combined.
  8. Turn 24 macaroon doomed side down. Fit a clean piping bag with 1/4” wide round tip. Pipe a 1/2” tall ring of filling on each macaron. Spoon 1/2 tsp. of raspberry jam in the centre of each ring and top each macaron with another macaron, setting it doomed side up. Serve macaron with fresh raspberries, if desired.
Recipe Notes

Note: Extra fine sugar is sold in small bags in the aisle other types of sugar are sold. Any leftover butter cream filling could be frozen. Thaw and use when you need something sweet to spread on a cupcake, brownie or other baked good. Recipe options: Instead of filling each cookie with a small spoon of raspberry jam, try another preserve, such strawberry jam, or red currant jelly.

Copied from Thrifty Foods Recipes.

https://www.thriftyfoods.com/recipes/recipes/macaron-with-white-chocolate-and-raspberry

I'm going to try them with dark semi- or unsweetend chocolate next. and maybe leave out the red food colouring.

Let me know how they turn out.

Judy

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