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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