hi ho cherry o

remember this board game from when we were little kids? it was always one of my favorites. i loved the smooth, spherical plastic cherries and the way they nested so gently in the holes cut out of the cardboard tree. i can't remember much about the rules or logistics of the game but the tactile pleasure of those tiny fake cherries has stayed with me for a long time.

i desperately love real cherries, too. up until a few years ago, i had only ever eaten your standard bing cherries (mostly from the regular grocery store and often lacking pizazz), but through my old job at capogiro, i was exposed to a nice array of local cherry varietals, usually in the form of perfect vegan sorbets. over the past few summers i have allowed myself to splurge on an organic quart or two from the farmer's market, and relish each bite into the taut skin of the fruit, and the adolescent fun of spitting the pit into the garden or out of the window of a moving car.

so what an unpleasant surprise it was when the heaping quart of blushing sour cherries from our CSA proved to be too sour to snack on! i wanted to buck up and make myself enjoy their intense mouth puckering tartness but i just couldn't force it. like in so many other desperate times, i called in for back up: butter and sugar to the rescue!

this cobbler, which is about a million times easier than making a pie, is everything i could have ever asked for out of these crimson beauts. seriously! the bright, piquant sourness of the raw cherries are tamed into a mysterious submission by the other ingredients and hang time in the oven. the topping, which is just the right amount of rich and sweet, keeps the whole thing from being too damn serious.

Sour Cherry Cobbler
adapted from an old ass Gourmet Magazine (RIP)
~takes about 1.5 hours, including baking time
4 cups of sour cherries, rinsed, drained and pitted - save any and all juices from the pitting process!
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour, or any other decent baking flour of your choosing (spelt might be nice!)
1 teaspoon double acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using vegan margarine)
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter or Earth Balance
- preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

- combine the pitted cherries and their juices with the cornstarch, 2/3 cup sugar, orange and lime juices, and almond or vanilla extract. stir well to combine and set aside.

- in a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and the 2 tablespoons sugar. add the butter or margarine by breaking it off into little pieces with your fingers and dropping it into the dry ingredients. using a pastry cutter, a fork, or just your fingers mix it all together until the dough is kind of coarse and sandy.

- add 1/4 cup boiling water to the dough and gently stir until it's just mixed. set aside.

- put the cherry mixture into a pot. bring it to a gentle boil over a medium flame. stir to dissolve any remaining sugar and take off the heat.

- pour the warm cherry mixture into a lightly greased oven proof pie plate, an 8-inch cast iron skillet, or any other baking vessel you like. drop the cobbler dough in small, rough pieces on top, covering as much of the cherry filling as possible (see image above).

- bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the crimson insides are bubbling.

- allow it to cool a bit, then dish it up. a tiny scoop of ice cream sends you on a rocket ship to the planet Summertime. good for an indulgent breakfast, too!