Beyond Pie Filling

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Dana also made sweet pickled cherries, a simple preparation that, with its hibiscus-and-balsamic syrup, straddles the border of sweet, savory, and floral. She served them with panna cotta, but they’d be equally at home with cheesecake, ice cream—or foie gras.

Speaking of which, if any readers have a foie gras farm, my schedule is flexible.

Sweet Pickled Cherries

Dana Cree, Veil (Seattle)

Makes about 4 cups

These cherries are wonderful with panna cotta, vanilla ice cream, cheesecake, or foie gras. Dried hibiscus can be found in the bulk section at natural foods stores, at Latin markets, and by mail order.

2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 star anise
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
1 cinnamon stick
2 pounds fresh sour cherries, stemmed and pitted, or two 24-ounce jars sour cherries, drained

In a medium saucepan, bring water, sugar, balsamic vinegar, star anise, lemon zest, lemon juice, hibiscus, and cinnamon stick to a boil. Boil 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is fragrant and sugar is fully dissolved. Place cherries in a large bowl. Strain the pickling liquid onto the cherries. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to a week.

Sour-Cherry Clafoutis

Dana Cree, Veil (Seattle)

Serves 4

There’s a lot of whipping in the recipe, but it’s worth it: The resulting clafoutis is lighter than air.

5 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Amaretto
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream

2 pounds fresh sour cherries, stemmed and pitted, or two 24-ounce jars sour cherries, drained

Preheat oven to 375°F. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the egg yolks and sugar to a thick, pale ribbon, about 3 minutes. Whisk in Amaretto until combined. Fold in the flour and salt. Set aside.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Refrigerate.

Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Add the sugar and continue whipping to make meringue (stiff, glossy peaks).

Fold the cream into the yolk mixture in 2 batches. Fold the meringue into the batter in 2 batches.

Layer a large skillet or baking pan with a single layer of cherries. Cover with clafoutis batter, pressing slightly as you spread and encouraging the batter to fill the crevices between the fruit. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and set. Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Cooks’ note: Leftovers can be refrigerated and are surprisingly good cold.

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