It is finally cherry season here in the Palouse and it’s an extra short one this year. We got hit with early warm weather which meant a horrible killing frost when we weren’t looking (because we thought the cold weather was over -that will teach us). Cherry trees got hit the worst (so far) so the local cherries are far fewer than last year. Our favorite cherry picking place was open for one day only. We picked 20 pounds of cherries to bring home. I love fresh cherries but I really love squirreling them away for later. We still have cherries from last year so I’m not overly worried about having them for recipes.
This weekend, I made two cherry desserts. The first came before our 6 am trip to the cherry orchard (yes I said 6 am – with one day only we wanted to make sure we got there early and we were so not alone).
Because it’s cherry season, cherry recipes are popping up all over the internet. The first was this one from Treats and Trinkets. While she made a Black Forest Icebox Cake, I was just intrigued by the icebox cake part. I usually love chocolate but I’ve never had an icebox cake (in fact I keep wanting to call it a pie). I made mine incorrectly because I didn’t actually understand the concept of an icebox cake. I think the thing is, we are cold up here in the Palouse. We get maybe 3 months a year of hot weather and it’s not 3 solid months – just three months we know there will be sun and heat. It’s a short growing season and barely puts a damper on our baking. It’s also the time we get to enjoy ice cream cones outside and popsicles. Icebox cakes developed in areas where there is so much heat, baking was difficult. That never happens here so no one has even considered these fun little cakes.
The directions on Treats and Trinkets weren’t great for a newbie like me since I didn’t have an understanding of what it should be like. We had some difficulty with just the basics – first no chocolate graham crackers in the store and I wasn’t about to go on a quest for them. I knew I had graham crackers at home. We also had cherry pie filling from my son’s dumpster diving day where he found a ton of perfectly good canned goods. Had we not had that, I would have opened up a jar of our canned cherries. I did buy some organic whipping cream to balance out all the processed foods (and it was only 30 cents more).
So I started with whipping the carton of cream (about 2 cups) with about 2 tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon of vanilla. I will share that I walked away and the cream whipped faster than I expected so it was really hard whipped cream and didn’t spread very well.
I don’t know about you but I have a roll of plastic wrap that we bought years ago. The plastic wrap is useless and we bought a big roll. It only sticks to itself. So trying to line a loaf pan with plastic wrap was a bit of a nightmare especially when I went to try to spread my overly thick whipped cream. So my first layer was not smooth or consistent. I pressed those graham crackers in anyway. And here’s where I wasn’t paying attention to the instructions because between each layer of crackers I put both cherry pie filling and whipped cream (the instructions say to alternate between layers).
In the end I had three layers of graham crackers, two layers of pie filling and four layers of whipped cream. I topped the loaf with some more plastic wrap, tucked the remaining whipped cream in a container and put them both in the fridge. The next day (almost 24 hours later), I pulled out the loaf, removed the top plastic wrap and inverted it onto a serving plate. I pulled out the whipped cream to find that my husband had eaten most of the leftovers leaving me with about a spoonful to try to smooth out the top of my “cake”. It wasn’t pretty. Nor did I cover it with chocolate or add any decorations. We just sliced it up and ate it. The cake tasted like cherry pie with a lot of whipped cream. To be honest, it might become my new way of making pies since what I have a problem with is the crust, I’m just not a fan of pie crust but this was perfect. I think the layers of whipped cream could have been a little less thick but that was because I over whipped it.
The next day, after picking cherries and spending the morning pitting a bunch of them, I made this. I wish I could say I made it just like the recipe but I never have that luxury. I opted to cook at my dad’s house. He’s leaving on a trip this week so his pantry wasn’t as well stocked. He had no vanilla and no milk. Instead of making a run to the store for milk and cream, we opted to use a can of evaporated milk instead (a can of evaporated milk is 1 1/2 cups and the recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups of milk/cream so don’t use too much). I know we ended up wasting 1/4 cup of milk but that was better than wasting a carton.
I subbed orange extract for the vanilla but from there it was all the same. Clafoutis is a strange dessert. It’s not really a cake and not really a custard. It reminds me of Yorkshire pudding in texture or baked crepes. It wasn’t bad at all. My dad and I really liked it, my husband and son liked all the cherries but not too fond of the custard part. I love custard, I just don’t think you can go wrong with a custard like dish. I found the flavor wonderful. I think the orange and the cherry complimented each other perfectly. I do think I like it better cold than hot but it’s a little tough when it gets good and cold. My dad always feels that everything is better with cool whip so maybe some whipped cream would have been good with this. Oh – I did forget the powdered sugar so it wasn’t horribly sweet which I liked. It really did remind me of crepes – really thick crepes stuffed with cherries so maybe serving with some cottage or cream cheese would have been good. I do think it’s a recipe I’ll play with again.
Hope these give you some ideas for desserts. Sorry there are no pictures – Some days I forget to grab the camera at all. Not sure I can promise I’ll be better next time but there are great pictures on the recipe pages.