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From the Journal: Mon Chéri

by Magnolia
Published on May 9, 2024

Mon Chéri: Cherry Treats for Summer

STORY BY ELIAS GROUHI

RECIPES BY ELLEN BOEKE

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARSON DOWNING

PRODUCED BY SCOTT J. JOHNSON

FOOD STYLING BY CHARLIE WORTHINGTON

An orange graphic reads "a story from Magnolia Journal summer 2024."
Cherry Treats

Cheery treats put cherries front and center, reminding us why they’re the darlings of the dog days of summer.

It might come as a surprise that the French word chéri has no connection to “cherry.” After all, cherries are nothing if not summer’s little treasures. Peak season promises the return of sweet delights we know and love, like cherry sauce, pit-spitting competitions, and maraschinos as bright red buoys in melty sundaes. But alongside feel-like-a-kid-again favorites are refreshing possibilities to go all in on this much-loved fruit, inviting lively color, vibrant flavor, and a sprinkle of chéri into our every day.


Cherry Simple Syrup

Cherry Simple Syrup

START TO FINISH: 5 minutes

MAKES: 1 1/2 cups

1 cup tart cherry juice

1 cup sugar

Stir together cherry juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into a clean heatproof jar and let cool. Cover jar with lid and store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

CHERRY SPRITZ

Place 1 to 2 Tbsp. cherry simple syrup in a wine flute or glass. Top with 4 oz. (1/2 cup) prosecco or sparkling water. Add a Maraschino Cherry (below). If you like, squeeze a wedge of lime into glass.

OTHER DRINK IDEAS

Add syrup to taste to cocktails, such as an old-fashioned or a gin and tonic. To make cherry soda, add 1 to 2 Tbsp. syrup to an ice-filled glass and top with cola, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda.

Maraschino Cherries

Maraschino Cherries

PREP: 20 minutes

COOK: 10 minutes

CHILL: 24 hours

MAKES: 3 pints

2 lb. fresh dark sweet cherries (6 cups)

3 cups sugar

2 cups water

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch kosher salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1. Pit the cherries from the side to keep the stems intact. Loosely pack cherries into three wide-mouth pint canning jars.

2. Combine sugar, the water, lemon juice, nutmeg, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to boiling, stirring occasionally. Boil about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and liquid is reduced to 3 cups. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and almond extract. Pour syrup over cherries in jars. Let stand until room temperature.

3. Cover jars with lids. Chill at least 24 hours before serving. Store in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

Cherry-Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cherry-Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

PREP: 15 minutes

BAKE: 14 minutes

COOL: 2 minutes

MAKES: 18 cookies

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) salted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

2 eggs

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups dried tart or sweet cherries

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

Almond Buttercream

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl beat butter with a mixer on medium to high 30 seconds. Add sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat on medium 2 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and almond extract. Beat in flour. Stir in cherries, chocolate chips, and almonds.

2. Roll 1/3-cup portions of dough into balls. Flatten to about 3/4-inch thickness and 2 1/2-inch diameter. Place 3 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.

3. Bake about 14 minutes or until edges are set and lightly browned. Let cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets. Remove; cool completely on wire racks. Frost cooled cookies with Almond Buttercream. Store frosted cookies in an airtight container in the fridge up to 5 days.

ALMOND BUTTERCREAM

Place 1 cup (2 sticks) softened salted butter in an extra-large bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium 1 to 2 minutes or until creamy. Beat in 1 cup powdered sugar. Add 2 Tbsp. heavy cream, 1 tsp. almond extract, and a dash kosher salt; beat on low until combined. Gradually beat in 3 cups powdered sugar just until combined. Beat on medium about 5 minutes or until fluffy. Add 1 Tbsp. Cherry Simple Syrup (above) and, if you like, 1 or 2 drops red food coloring; beat on high 1 minute more. Makes 3 cups.

Frozen Double-Dipped Cherries

Frozen Double-Dipped Cherries

PREP: 30 minutes

FREEZE: 2 1/4 hours

MAKES: 4 to 5 dozen

1 lb. fresh sweet cherries with stems, room temperature

1 10-oz. pkg. white vanilla melting wafers, such as Ghirardelli brand

1 10-oz. pkg. dark or milk chocolate melting wafers, such as Ghirardelli brand

1. Pit cherries from the sides to keep stems intact. Arrange pitted cherries on paper towels. Melt vanilla wafers according to package directions. Holding the stems, dip cherries in melted vanilla coating. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze cherries 15 minutes or until set.

2. Melt chocolate wafers according to package directions. Dip the vanilla-dipped cherries in melted chocolate. Return to baking sheet. Freeze at least 2 hours. Serve immediately after removing from freezer, or store in a freezer container up to 3 months.

Cherry Granita

Cherry Granita

PREP: 25 minutes

FREEZE: 5 1/2 hours + overnight

MAKES: 8 servings

4 cups pitted dark sweet cherries (1 1/2 lb. before pitting), stems removed

1 12-oz. can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed

1/4 cup tart cherry juice

1. Combine cherries, limeade concentrate, and cherry juice in a large blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove cherry skins.

2. Pour cherry mixture into a 13×9-inch baking pan. Cover and freeze 2 1/2 hours or until edges are slushy. Stir and scrape mixture off bottom and sides of pan. Freeze 3 hours more or until all of the mixture is slushy, stirring and scraping every 30 minutes. Cover and freeze, without stirring, overnight or until firm.

3. Remove from freezer. Scrape surface of granita and spoon into dishes. Serve immediately.

Cherries Jubilee Cheesecake Bars

Cherries Jubilee Cheesecake Bars

PREP: 15 minutes

BAKE: 40 minutes

CHILL: 5 hours

COOK: 10 minutes

MAKES: 9 servings

1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (9 crackers or 5 oz.)

1/4 cup salted butter, melted 1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup + 1/3 cup sugar

5 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

1 tsp. orange zest

2 eggs

1 lb. fresh dark sweet cherries, pitted

1/3 cup cherry brandy or cognac

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. In a medium bowl stir together crushed graham crackers and melted butter. Press mixture evenly over bottom of prepared pan to form crust.

2. Combine cream cheese, 3/4 cup of the sugar, 3 Tbsp. of the orange juice, and the orange zest in a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl. Add eggs; process until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture over crust in pan.

3. Bake about 40 minutes or until sides are slightly puffed and center is dry. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Chill at least 5 hours or overnight.

4. Use foil to lift bars from pan. Cut into squares and place in shallow serving dishes.

5. Place cherries in a large flameproof skillet. (Cherries should fit in a single layer.) Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp. orange juice. Cover and cook over medium-low about 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Uncover; increase heat to medium-high. Cook about 5 minutes more or until syrupy.

6. Remove pan from heat; pour brandy over cherries. Using a long lighter, carefully ignite brandy. Return to heat and gently shake pan to swirl cherries until flames subside. Immediately spoon cherry mixture over bars. Store leftover cheesecake bars and cherry sauce separately in the refrigerator, covered, up to 5 days.


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