Wednesday, May 23

Life is a Bowl of Cherries, but You Have to Pay for Them

I think most people who shop at farmers’ markets are willing to pay a little more for produce because it’s fresher. There are certain items, however, that are notorious for causing people to balk, such as passionfruit, figs, and, currently, cherries.

These fruits all share common traits: they are unique in flavor and appearance, their season is maddeningly short, and they elicit awe in their viewers. Seriously. This past Sunday, I was expecting harp music to start emanating from the cherry table. It’s no surprise; who can resist gushing over fresh cherries? Both kids and adults are smitten by their cheerful color and juicy sweetness. In fact, one farmer was generously offering samples of bing cherries (pictured above) and was practically sainted by grateful market-goers. It doesn’t take much to make us happy.

Despite our love affair with this precious fruit, some people can’t help but haggle over the price, which is about $6-8 per pound. Let me tell you something: No amount of pleading or applauding will get farmers to budge on the price. Why? Because cherries are difficult to grow. They are highly susceptible to insect damage and disease and need to be carefully monitored. They are also highly dependent upon good weather. In fact, several cherry farmers in California have noted markedly smaller harvests this year because of inclement weather. Even if the cherries make it to fruition, they are prey to birds that are attracted to their bright red color and sweet juice, and typically need to be protected with netting or cheesecloth. Finally, they must picked carefully and are highly perishable, since they do not ripen once harvested. This all adds up to a labor intensive and expensive fruit to produce, which is why the price is high.

But, once you’ve tasted a fresh cherry, there will be no doubt that they are worth every penny. Since cherry season lasts only 3-4 weeks, we buy them each week and savor every last one. We usually prefer to eat them plain, as they are perfect in their unadulterated state.

Yet, this past Sunday, Jeff suggested how much better they might be with some chocolate cake. Yes! Chocolate cake and cherries! I had to have it! But then I remembered -- I hate baking. Ugh. While unpacking the produce from the market, I suddenly remembered a dessert I had seen in a recent issue of Bon Appetit. Practically running Jeff over to get to the coffee table, I flipped the pages frantically until I found it: Quick Chocolate-Cinnamon Mousse with Cherries. Brilliant.

The recipe called for heavy whipping cream, and I considered using lite Cool Whip to reduce the calories; that is, until Jeff brought me to my senses. I’m still thanking him, and it’s been 4 days. You will too after you taste this dessert. Though the recipe gives suggestions for different ingredients, I used cherry preserves from Trader Joe’s, port wine instead of cherry juice, and Ghiradelli 60% dark chocolate.

This is a decadent dessert, one that you should savor, slowly and patiently. The mousse is both pillowy light in texture and densely chocolately in taste. And the cherries, which are infused with port and cinnamon, are not-to-sweet, slightly tangy, and lusciously rich. Even better, it’s simple to make.

I am submitting this post to the entertaining Ellie of Kitchen Wench, host of this week's Weekend Herb Blogging.

Quick Chocolate-Cinnamon Mousse with Cherries
This is Dave Lieberman’s recipe from the June 2007 issue of Bon Appetit.
Print recipe only here.


8 ounces fresh Bing cherries, pitted
1/3 cup black cherry preserves or other cherry preserves
1/3 cup ruby Port or cherry juice


1 1/4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
1/8 teaspoon (generous) ground cinnamon
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

For cherries: Combine cherries, cherry preserves, and Port in heavy small saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil until juices thicken to syrup consistency, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to small bowl and chill until cold, about 3 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

For mousse: Combine 1/4 cup cream and cinnamon in small saucepan; bring to boil. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer chocolate mixture to large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat remaining 1 cup cream in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold 1/4 of whipped cream into lukewarm chocolate mixture. Fold remaining whipped cream into chocolate mixture in 3 additions just until incorporated. Divide mousse among 4 glasses or bowls. Chill until set, about 4 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; keep chilled.

Spoon cherries with syrup atop mousse and serve.

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Stella said...

OhMyGoodness! These cherries look uber delicious & fresh, I so miss them now. One of them things I regret of not being able to have in Mauritius are cherries. Even if we've got tropical fruits in abundance, cherries stay my fav..:)

Pille said...

This is sooo unfair! No cherries on sight anywhere on this part of the world here, and yet other bloggers tease me (and torture me:) by posting tempting cherry recipes on their blogs!?
Will have to add it to my list to wait for the cherry season..

Alanna Kellogg said...

Cool Whip? OH MY gracious, thank goodness that husband brought you to your senses! :-)

Warda said...

CHERRIES CHERRIES! My all time favorite. Not yet availabale here in Michigan. We'll have to wait until June before we have them in the farmers market. Cheries make gorgeous earrings too...

Brilynn said...

Thanks for defending the price of cherries! My grandparents have a cherry orchard and I've worked there every summer of my life, picking, sorting and selling cherries. And I assure you, a LOT of work goes into it. My reward is eating all the cherries I want and I make sure to enjoy them because the season is so short.

Mishmash ! said...

Susan, U cant imagine how much that choco.mousse with cherries tempt me to try my hands on that but after writing all that blah-blah about eating healthy in my recent post, will I have some self-respect if I try this immediately after that ? :)))SHould I wait for some more time..? :D Loved the second pic!


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I hate the notion of bargaining for lower prices on food (or art). If a farmer sets the price, the customer has to decide whether to pay it -- or to not buy the item. Cherries are worth every penny, because they are hard to grow, and because they are unlike any other fruit!

Asha said...

LOL @ the title.True,all good things come with a price tag!:))
Fresh Cherries can't be beat.Mousse looks so delicious!

wheresmymind said...

light cool whip? :P I would've gone with light whipped cream (spray bottle...just so I could torment my wife who hates the spray sound) hehe

Anonymous said...

What gorgeous pictures, I can TASTE those cherries. Lucky you! Dessert looks spectacular.

Susan Voisin said...

You're so lucky to have them grown locally. I'd pay almost any price for fresh cherries, but all we get here are supermarket ones that have been shipped to death.

Also, I love the photo at the top!

Lis said...

Sounds wonderful, Susan =)


Anonymous said...

Holy cow! $6/lb! I love cherries and I'm still waiting for cherry season in WA. WA produces almost 50% of the country's cherries I believe, so cherry season here lasts 2 to 3 months.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I always looked forward to the cherry season when we were in Michigan every summer. Cherries are really a glorious fruit.
Lush looking cherries and chocolate!

Nabeela said...

Oh, thats looks decadent!!! By the way, cherries are now available at Costco too...$14 for 3 lbs.

Chris said...

Yum! Cherries are such a sign that summer is here! I never really knew why these lovelies were so pricey - thanks! It makes a little more sense now. I will still by them...I can't help it that they call my name and their stems reach out and tap my shoulder as I walk by!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Valentina-They've always been a favorite of mine too.

Pille-That's sweet of you; thanks!

Alanna-He's more than just a pretty face. ;)

Rose-Don't know if I can pull off the earrings with my short hair. ;)

Brilynn-No problem! Now, can I have the address of your grandparent's farm? ;)

Shn-Aw, I think you've waited long enough. ;)

Lydia-I agree.

Asha-Glad you liked it. :)

Jeff-Aw, nice. Real nice. ;)

Christine-I am lucky.:)

SusanV-The taste of locally grown cherries really is incomparable.


Amy-They grow a lot here too, but our season is still short. Unfortunately.

Tanna-They are worth the wait!

Nabeela-It was decadent and worth it!

Chris-Hey, mine never tapped me on the shoulder! ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh, Susan. Gorgeous pictures. Haven't seen them here in RI yet, but I certainly hope so soon.

Kalyn Denny said...

Oh my, this does sound wonderful. I love fresh cherries the most of all the stone fruits.

debra said...

Lovely post. I will always pay for fresh cherries! And cherries with chocolate is a delightful combination. (glad you decided not to use Cool" better living through chemistry" Whip)
Keeping the faith that art is alive and and essential part of all our lives.

Anonymous said...

I just bought a big basket of fresh cherries. I love cherry pie and cherry cobbler, but these fresh ones I will eat one by one. Yummy!
Thanks for reminding me that I need to get some pictures before they are gone.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

It must have been an excellent season - those cherries are picture perfect! It reminds me that my parents planted a cherry tree just after I was born. Wish it was still around ...

Anh said...

I saw some cherries today at the supermarket - imported from the U.S! (We are having colder months here). It's so so expensive. I think I'll wait for the local cherries in summer then make your beautiful dessert!

Scribbit said...

I've never cooked with fresh cherries merely because I can't bear not to eat them fresh.

Right out of the bowl.

Lovely picture too-

Anonymous said...


That mousse looks great! It's been so long since I've bought cherries in the states that I forgot how expensive they are! We just bought some at the market yesterday and paid 2,50 euro for a kilo which works out to be about $1.50 per pound. They are everywhere right now and really tasty!

Mikaela said...

"But then I remembered -- I hate baking. Ugh." Ha ha! Made me laugh out load :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Cherries are expensive, you're right, Susan, but I think they're so worth their price. Simply divine!

Your mousse looks decadent, indeed! And you combined cinnamon and chocolate and cherries... I wish I had a sort of virtual spoon to steal some of this. :)

thepassionatecook said...

cherries have always been some of my favourite fruits! as a child, i think picking my own in my grandparents orchard, sitting in the tree and spitting the stones on unexpecting passers-by might have been the main attraction... and then, when i lived in mexico, i had to find out that they are one of the few fruits that don't really grow there - a summer of sorrow!!! this year, i am going to pick my own at a local farm, i might have to do without the spitting, though, seeing that i am supposed to be a role-model for my children now...

Anonymous said...

oh i'm so glad you posted this recipe! it looks even better than it did in the mag, which had me drooling! yum, beautiful job! i agree, theres nothing like fresh cherries :)

Anonymous said...

I didn't know anything about how cherries are grown and harvested until reading this post - very interesting! I love to eat cherries but rarely do so because it's so difficult to find good ones that don't cost an arm and a leg. Your find looks amazing!

Ari (Baking and Books)

Anonymous said...

Cherries are indeed fabulous at any cost, and this dessert sounds like a wonderful use for them, although I might forgo the cinnamon. How do you pit your cherries, Susan? One method I've heard of and tried is pushing a chopstick through them at the stem end, but this really does bust them up. Is it better to just halve them?

Susan said...

What an easy, sumptuous twist on the classic Black Forest combo of cherry/chocolate. I'll bet the farmer gave out samples to prevent customers from being a "little" too generous sampling them on their own. They are hard to resist, even before you pay for them.

You have a very charming and entertaining blog, full of good eating and good cheer. I'm sure I'll visit again.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Anthony-Thanks! They're usually out in June-July,right?

Kalyn-What's not to love?

Debra-It's a killer combination.;)

Sandi-You're welcome. It was fun!

T.W.-You must have lovely memories of it.

Anh-Yeah, probably from California.:)

Michelle-I usually don't either, but this one was worth it!

Nicole-Why so inexpensive, I wonder?


Patricia-It was too good!

Johanna-Life without cherries is sad.

Aria-Now, that's a compliment! Thanks! :)

Ari-These were really worth every penny. Each one was perfect.

Terry-I usually use the flat side of a large knife and lightly press down until the flesh tears. Then I wiggle the pit out with my fingertips or the tip of a knife. The cherry halves remain pretty round. I hear they sell cherry pitters,but I've never used one as I have a minimalist kitchen. ;)

Susan-You're probably right about the farmer. Thanks for the lovely words; I'll look forward to our future visits.

Deb said...

That looks divine! You constantly inspire me to I've just got to find the time. ;)

Kajal said...

WOW....these cherries looks very fresh. Dessert looks fabulous.
Nice picture with you work. Good day.:)

cindy said...

in the summertime here in the pacific northwest, we get these little stands pop up on the side of the road everywhere...i can't resist buying them, then! i know one type are rainier cherries, but not remembering what the other kind is they always sell. i sometimes eat half the container on the way home from work! :o

bazu said...

Cherries are absolutely my favorite fruit. And I hear you about the expense. Once, when I was in California, Albertson's put their cherries on an unbelievable (harp music-inducing) sale- only $.99 a pound! So, like the insane foodie that I was, and not having a car, I got on my bike and rode over to Albertson's, and bought about 10 pounds of cherries and biked them back home. I'm sure my neighbors got a kick out of witnessing that!

You are also right about how hard they are to grow- my mom tells me that back in Iran, while cherries taste absolutely delicious, you pretty much have a 50/50 chance of biting into a worm when you eat one. :/

sher said...

I think those are some of the most beautiful pictures of cherries that I've ever seen. And the wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I don't care about the price of them, I will buy them madly when they are fresh and eat them until I am truly sorry about my hedonistic indulgence. I can't help it. If I could pronounce myself in love with one fruit, it would be fresh bing cherries. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Oh my god !!! I think is so good !!! I love cherries.
Very wonderful

Anonymous said...

Absolutely wonderful, Susan! I love chocolate and cinnamon... and I love chocolate and cherries... so I think it's fair to say that I'd flip for this mousse! I cannot wait to see ripe plump cherries like that around these parts!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Deb-I am touched that you find me inspirational! I promise, this is really a "quick" mousse. :)

Kajal-Thanks so much!

Cinderelly-I love those "pop-up" stands; we have them right now for strawberries.

Bazu-You're a bargain hunter too? There's one more thing to like about you!

Sher-That is sweet of you to say.

Kate-Well said! :)

Pom d'api-Grazie!

Gilly-I think this one is flip-worthy. ;)

Lisa Johnson said...

Oh these pictures are so beautiful! I'm seeing cherries popping up everywhere. This mousse looks so good. My mouth is watering! I'm going to have to buy some cherries soon.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100$ - I also balk at the price of cherries at the market and supermarket, so I've found that the best way to do it is to organize a day with family to go and pick our own cherries at a cherry farm :) And I get the feeling that next summer, I'll have to reserve some of our handpicked cherries for this delish dish!

Madame K said...

My husband would spend his last pennies on a bowl of cherries. I think they're his favorite thing to eat besides lobster (which would require a lot more pennies!)

I love them, too, and can only imagine how good they are fresh off the tree!

Melting Wok said...

I bought 2 bags from the Mexican guy sweating away at the traffic light stop couple days back them, so sweet oo..and that chocolate mousse, so tempting, thx !:)

Anonymous said...

Cherries are imported here so double the pricey factor...but so worth it! :) Your dessert sounds marvellous!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Beautiful! The cherries are gorgeous in their own right but combining them with chocolate and cinnamon is ingenious!

Linda said...

very daring with bikini season on our tails! looks delectable!

foodette said...

It looks luscious. I am also a huge fan of cherries, and I am not about to let their high price get me down. Most people who refuse to buy expensive cherries are willing to go buy an unhealthy fast food meal without the blink of an eye. I'd rather have the cherries.

Scribbit said...

Okay, after reading this post I was shopping and Costco had cherries in and remembering this post I bought a box. I planned to share but they were so good I ate the whole thing myself over the next two days.

By Sunday I began to regret my enthusiasm and was rather sick :)

Oops. Next time I'll have to pace myself!

christine said...

You know the slightly painful feeling you get under the jawline when you start to drool over something? I'm feeling that now as I look at your photos! Fresh cherries are horribly expensive here so I can only have them as a treat once in while.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Anali-Go buy some now! ;)

Ellie-Excellent idea! I love it!

Karen-That's why it's always a good idea to keep a spare change jar.;)

Shirley-I've noticed that Thacker Berry Farms has just started selling them.

Joey-Double? Ouch! You must really cherish them when you have some.

Meeta-The flavors were lovely together.

Linda-Well, not so daring. I did a little extra at the gym. ;)

Foodette-So true; I guess it comes down to how much we value something.

Michelle-I think that has probably happened to all of us who love cherries. ;)

Christine-Aw, shucks, now I'm blushing. ;)

Chubbypanda said...

Buying fresh cherries is dangerous. I always end up washing the whole batch and eating them all in one sitting.

Dinner will be a starter of fresh cherries followed by a delicious serving of fresh cherries and a bowl of our delightful fresh cherries for dessert.

Anonymous said...

Oh my...Oh MY! This looks incredible. I can just imagine how decadent it must be.