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Double Yum

There's nothing quite like the sophisticated taste of cherries with chocolate.

One-two punch Extra large chocolate morsels stud shortcakes that are served with cherry compote and cream inside. One-two punch Extra large chocolate morsels stud shortcakes that are served with cherry compote and cream inside. (Photo by Jim Scherer; Styling by Catrine Kelty)
By Adam Reid
June 28, 2009
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This will not be news to fans of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, but the rest of you listen up. Ripe summer cherries have few finer flavor affiliates than chocolate. Taste a cherry very carefully and you may notice a faint undertone of almond, which picks up a little speed against chocolate’s own nutty, earthy aspects. Chocolate also casts a favorable light on cherries’ deep, winey flavor. Just think of how nicely a rich tawny port goes with a chocolate truffle.

The recipes here celebrate that cherry-chocolate synergy. In fact, the cherry compote on which the other desserts are based capitalizes on it by adding tiny amounts of both red wine and almond extract. Use the compote in the recipes that follow, or as a topping for yogurt or ricotta, ice cream, brownies, cheesecake, waffles, pancakes . . . The list goes on.

Cherry Compote

Makes about 2 cups

1 pound fresh dark cherries, stemmed, pitted, and quartered

3 tablespoons cherry jam

Salt

2 tablespoons dry red wine

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/8teaspoon almond extract

Reserve half the quartered cherries and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining cherries, jam, and a pinch of salt over medium heat until simmering, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, partially cover pan, and simmer until cherries soften, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the wine and cornstarch; add to the saucepan, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Scrape the mixture into a medium heatproof bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature. Add the almond extract and reserved uncooked cherries, stir to mix, cover, and refrigerate until serving.

Chocolate Chip-Cherry Shortcakes

Serves 6

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

5 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup chocolate morsels

½ cup buttermilk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, lightly beaten

6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

1 recipe Cherry Compote

Set the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, salt, and chocolate morsels. In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, vanilla, egg, and melted butter until smooth. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated -- no streaks of dry ingredients should remain.

With a greased ½-cup dry measure, scoop up a scant ½ cup dough, pat it gently to shape, and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the 6 mounds about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly over the mounds and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 16 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.

Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

At serving time, in a medium bowl beat the cream until it holds medium peaks, adding remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar about halfway through beating time. Split the biscuits in half, place the bottoms on individual serving plates, and top each with a scant 1/3 cup of cherry compote and a small dollop of whipped cream. Cap with the biscuit tops and another small dollop of whipped cream, and serve at once.

White Chocolate-CherrySemifreddo

Makes an 8 ½-by-4 ½-inch loaf

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salt

7 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

1¼ cups heavy cream, chilled

1½ cups pea-sized crumbs from 4 ounces plain chocolate wafers or biscotti

1 recipe Cherry Compote

Line an 8 ½-by-4 ½-by-2 ½-inch loaf pan, preferably metal, with plastic wrap, leaving a 6-inch overhang at each end, and chill in freezer. In a medium heatproof bowl, beat the eggs and sugar to combine. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure bottom of bowl doesn’t touch water) and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes pale and thick and registers about 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 3 minutes. Turn off the burner, remove the bowl from the saucepan, and continue to stir constantly for about 3 minutes longer to cool the mixture. Add the vanilla and ¼ teaspoon salt, stir to mix, and set aside. Place the chocolate in another heatproof bowl, set the bowl over the saucepan of hot water (do not turn on the burner), and, stirring occasionally, melt the chocolate. Add the egg mixture and stir briskly to combine.

In a medium bowl, beat the cream until it holds stiff peaks, then fold gently into egg-chocolate mixture. Remove prepared loaf pan from freezer, sprinkle half the cookie crumbs evenly in bottom of pan, then spread a third of the cream mixture evenly over crumbs. Spread half of the cherry compote evenly over the layer of cream mixture, then another third of the cream mixture, then the remaining cookie crumbs, and finish with the remaining cream mixture. Fold overhanging wrap over to cover mixture in pan and freeze for at least 8 hours, and preferably overnight.

Remove pan from freezer, unmold semifreddo onto serving platter, and remove plastic wrap. Cut into thick slices and serve at once, garnishing with a small dollop of the remaining cherry compote.

Chocolate-Cherry Sundaes

Serves 6

12scoops chocolate ice cream or sorbet

1 recipe Cherry Compote

¾ cup sweetened whipped cream

½ cup slivered almonds, toasted and cooled

In each of 6 individual sundae dishes, place 2 scoops of ice cream or sorbet. Top each with a scant 1/3 cup of the cherry compote, then a small dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle each sundae with about 1 tablespoon of almonds, and serve at once.

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.

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