Sour Cherry Cobbler will have you scraping the dish and looking for more. Tender tart cherries in a luscious and silky base, topped with a rich, buttery almond biscuit crumble and a dollop of melting ice cream - what's not to love? Use whatever fresh sour cherries you have (Evans cherries are great) or your frozen stash from the freezer. (Skip to recipe.)
Mother Nature is the boss. She lets us mere mortals know that she's the one who controls the seasons . . . and the clouds . . . and the winds. We have no choice but to bow to her mastery of the heavens. And this year in Alberta, we did a LOT of bowing (in between scanning the skies for rain clouds, hail clouds, and tornado clouds). It's been an unusually cool, wet, miserable summer, with rain falling almost every day. We've got moss growing everywhere, and I even found mushrooms growing under the beet leaves in the garden. The soil is continuously wet and muddy in the garden, and our poor chickens haven't scratched in dry soil all summer. Their feet squelch around in their muddy run all day long.
Our fruit trees have been suffering. The haskaps were non-existent this year (though I think the birds beat us to them), saskatoons produced about half their normal crop, raspberries are sparse and not as sweet as usual, the pear and crabapple trees have nary a fruit to be seen, neither do the chokecherry trees, and the cherries only have a fraction of the sweet load of jewels they normally carry. Only the apple trees seem to be producing normally, though even they are all smaller than usual and pockmarked from last month's hailstorm.
So we'll pick the cherries we've got and enjoy every one of them like the precious culinary jewels they are. We left them on the trees long enough that they were particularly sweet and flavourful.
I've made a batch of shrub, and a few pots of jam, but most of the cherries went into this sour cherry cobbler - it was inhaled each of the four times I made it this week, tweaking different recipe variations until I got it juuuuuuust right. Oh, the tribulations of living with a food blogger! It's a rough lot; all that delicious cherry cobbler to have to eat . . .
That silky fruit base with tart cherries causing a flavour explosion in your mouth is complemented by crisp crumbles of buttery biscuit made rich with almond flour. Cherries pair beautifully with almond (since the cherry pits contain natural almond flavour). A splash of vanilla and grating of nutmeg enhance the cherry flavour in a very subtle way, making this a simple but very memorable treat. A spoonful of vanilla ice cream melting over the warm crumble takes you to decadent dessert heaven.
These are the Evans cherry strain of sour cherries discovered and introduced to the harsh prairie climate by a local Albertan horticulturist, and now they are the most prolific variety of sour cherry trees grown in Canada and other parts of North America. In good years one mature healthy Evans cherry tree can produce up to 150 pounds of fruit!
But now our trees are almost empty. In fact, maybe I'm not even that sad that I didn't have hundreds of pounds of cherries to have to pick and process this year. We still got to enjoy the few, and there's always next year!
Here is a sampling of other great recipes using Evans sour cherries. If you've got a fresh harvest or a frozen stash or sour cherries, you're in luck.
- Cherry Pie
- Apricot and Sour Cherry Crisp
- Sour Cherry Ginger Oat Crumble Bars
- No-Bake Cherry Coconut Bars
- Sour Cherries in Brandy
- Sour Cherry Shrub/Cordial
- Beets with Dried Cherry Sauce
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Kitchen Frau Notes: Cornstarch is one of the ingredients I always prefer to buy organic, since GMOs [genetically modified organisms] are prohibited in organic products. Corn is one of the most genetically modified crops out there. Organic cornstarch is available in health food stores.
The bit of cornstarch in the cobbler topping helps make it extra crispy.
If using frozen sour cherries, partially defrost them before adding the sugar.
- 4 cups (700gms) pitted fresh sour cherries or 5½ cups (700gms) pitted frozen sour cherries (if using fresh cherries, they weigh 1¾ lbs/800gms before pitting)
- 1 cup (200gms) sugar (I prefer natural evaporated cane juice)
- ¼ cup (35gms) cornstarch or tapioca starch
- ¼ cup (60ml) water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
biscuit crumble cobbler topping
- 1 cup (100gms) almond flour
- ¾ cup (100gms) gluten free flour blend (or regular flour for non gluten-free)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca starch
- ¼ cup (50gms) sugar + 1 tablespoon for sprinkling on top
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅓ cup (75gms) of butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Pit the cherries, using this simple method, or a cherry pitter.
Combine the pitted cherries and the sugar in a bowl and leave them to macerate for 30 minutes (add in any cherry juice gathered with the pits, too). The sugar will draw the juices from the cherries and make them a little firmer, so they don't break apart as easily when they are cooked.
While the cherries are macerating, prepare the biscuit cobbler topping: Place the almond flour, g.f. flour, cornstarch, the ¼ cup of sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two butter knives until it is the size of peas. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the vanilla, pour it into the cobbler mixture, and continue cutting it with the pastry cutter, or rubbing it with your fingers, until large crumbly clumps form and there is no visible dry flour. Don't overwork it or it will become a large lump of dough (you'll have to crumble it apart again with your fingers to use it).
To finish preparing the cherries: In a saucepan, stir together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add the juice from the cherries (use a spatula to hold back the cherries in the bowl and strain in as much of the sugared cherry juice off the cherries as you can). Add the vanilla and almond extract. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring constantly; it will be quite thick. Tip in the cherries; their juices will thin down the mixture again. Stir gently so you don't break up the cherries, and continue heating the filling until a few bubbles surface and it comes just back up to a boil, making sure to gently scrape the bottom and sides of the saucepan so the cherries don't burn.
Pour the hot cherry filling into a 2-quart (1.9l) baking dish, a 9"(23cm) deep-dish pie plate, or a 10" (25cm) pie plate. Crumble the biscuit cobbler topping evenly over the top, breaking up any large clumps of biscuit. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
Set the baking dish onto a cookie sheet (to catch any drips in case the fruit boils over a bit) and bake the sour cherry cobbler for 35 to 40 minutes, until the edges are bubbling and the cobbler topping is golden brown.
Serve warm with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.
Serves 6 to 8. (The leftovers are pretty popular for breakfast around here).
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