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Spicy Sweet Cherries - Two Ways

I adore the flavor of fresh sweet cherries. When cherries are in season I keep a bowlful in my kitchen just to snack on. Or, sometimes, I pit them, sprinkle them with sugar and a little liquid, maybe lemonade or wine or kirsch, let them sit for an hour or so and then drop them into summer drinks or serve them for dessert with whipped cream on top. For the most part I tend to keep my summer fruit recipes pretty simple.

Other times though, I start thinking, and then you just never know what might happen. One idea started brewing with the gooseberries I found at the Farmer’s Market last month. I added some onion and made a savory sauce from those. Then I made Cantaloupe Salsa and started thinking about the intrigue of adding hot peppers to lusciously sweet summer fruit.

Then, thumbing through the August issue of "Martha Stewart Living," I saw a recipe for a beautiful Plum and Port Crostata. It looked and sounded quite delicious and it included a Thai chile in the recipe.

The next thing I knew I was taking my kirsch and sugar laced cherries in a whole new direction. The result was both an irresistable spicy sweet barbecue sauce and a luscious crostata with the slightest lingering spicy blush. I was happy with the results and I will probably make them both again but I was most impressed with the sauce.

Spicy Sweet Cherry Sauce

2 pounds cherries, rinsed and pitted
1 jalapeno, split in half and seeded
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons kirsch
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Combine the cherries, jalapeno, sugar, kirsch, water, black pepper, cinnamon and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook covered for 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat. Carefully remove the jalapeno halves and set aside. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.

If you would like to make a Hot Cherry Crostata - remove 2 cups of the cherry mixture and set aside.

Place the remainder of the cherry mixture, along with one or both halves (depending on your preference) of the jalapeno, in a blender. Blend on high until mixture is pureed. Serve over chicken or pulled pork like a barbecue sauce, on sandwiches or over rice.

Hot Cherry Crostata

2 cups Spicy Sweet Cherry Sauce
pastry for a one-crust pie
a little cream
coarse sugar sprinkles

Prepare enough pastry for a one-crust pie. (You can use the recipe for Nearly Foolproof Pie Dough, your own favorite recipe or a ready made piecrust.)

Fit the pastry into an 8-inch pie dish leaving an unfinished edge of 1 to 1½ inches of dough at the rim.

Pour the reserved 2 cups of the cherry mixture into the pie pastry. Fold the unfinished edge loosely over the filling. Brush the edge with cream and dust it with coarse sugar sprinkles.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for approximately 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Serve and Enjoy!


June said...

Wow Lisa - they're both such great ideas. The sauce looks incredible and would be great with duck too and as for the crostata - darn my mouth is watering. There's nothing better than Pacific Northwest fruit - ANY Pacific Northwest fruit and your pastry looks perfect!

Karine said...

I am addicted to cherries and I can hardly bake with them because I eat them too fast.

Both your recipes look to be great ways to enjoy cherries! thanks for sharing :)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

What a way to end the cherry season...so delicious Lisa.

grace said...

it saddens me that cherry season is so short. before ya know it, the red beauties are back to $5 a pound. i love the crostata especially, but the sauce is stellar too. bravo!

the southern hostess said...

I have been eating too many cherries lately, but you make me want some more! Yum.

Bunny said...

I love rustic tarts, this looks wonderful!!