Easy Cherry Summer Dessert Recipes for Pie, Cake, Clafoutis and More

Ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk. This is the sound my cherry pitter makes when I remove the seeds from the fruit. Every year I think, “Cherries? Already?” But here we are in the middle of cherry season (the window between flowers and fruit ready to be harvested is so short). And I have pounds of them.

One of the great things about cherries (besides their delicious flavor and beautiful garnet color) is that they are picked when ripe, unlike many other stone fruits, so if you buy them from the supermarket, they are often just as juicy. and tasty like those at farmers markets.

Cherry juice squirts all the way to the backsplash of my counter, splatters on my clothes, stains my fingers. It’s worth it for the pie. Or clafoutis. Or Pavlova. Or an upside-down cake. Or brandied cherries. The latter might be one of the simplest ways to use cherries in a spectacular way.

Cherries, cognac, red wine, Armagnac, orange liqueur, a vanilla bean, a little cinnamon, cracked black pepper and orange zest make these cherries particularly delicious (and your kitchen will smell of spicy almond blossom). Simmer these ingredients until the mixture is syrupy – this only takes about 20 minutes – and the brandied cherries can keep for months in the refrigerator. Use them over ice cream or pavlova or with shortbread and whipped cream.

An easy cherry dessert recipe is clafoutis. It cooks like a big, creamy, fruity pancake meets flan and soufflé. Remarkably, a traditional way of preparing cherry clafoutis is to use the fruit with the pits. So you don’t need to remove the seeds (you just have to be careful about them when eating). Come to think of it, you could also make the brandied cherries with the pits.

For the clafoutis, fill the bottom of a casserole dish with cherries in a single layer. Beat a few eggs, a little flour, some sugar, a little milk and cream and pour it all over the layer of cherries so that they are barely covered. Bake until the custard is just set (still jiggly in the center) and golden brown around the edges. Pour it warm into bowls.

But what is summer without cherry pie, baked until the fruit is gelled and the crust is crisp and flaky? Make a whole pie with a lattice crust or individual-sized hand pies with a little rye flour in the dough for a nutty crust that complements the cherries.

Here are several cherry recipes to cook in the coming weeks, while the fruit is still here — the season goes by so quickly.

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Sweet Cherry Pie

Juicy garnet cherries make a succulent, fruit-rich tart. The texture and flavor of fresh cherries overshadows that of canned cherries. Grand Marnier and vanilla give this filling a little more depth.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 1h30. Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.

(Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times)

Pavlova with vanilla and pistachio whipped cream

This is the pavlova I want to make every summer. A giant meringue filled with vanilla-flavored whipped cream and garnished with berries. But you can easily substitute some berries for cherries, which are just as delicious with pistachios as strawberries or blueberries, if not more so.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 20 minutes. For 10 to 12 people.

Cherry clafoutis

Clafoutis is a recipe from south-central France that dates back hundreds of years, and its name is derived from the word clafir, “to fill” – like filling pastry with cherries.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 1h15. For 6 to 8 people.

Cherry clafoutis

(Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

Cherry and Almond Upside Down Cake

This is a party cake with a layer of jammy cherries. The almond paste adds sweetness and a nutty flavor to enhance that of the cherries here. The day before you plan to bake the cake, pit and cook the cherries.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 55 minutes. For 8 people.

Corrugated cake with cherries and almonds.

(Leslie Grow/For Time)

Rye and cherry hand pies

The rye flour in the crust of these hand pies adds a subtle nutty complexity that complements the brightness of the cherries drizzled with balsamic vinegar and Madeira wine.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 2 hours. That makes 12.

Rye-caraway-cherry hand pies from pastry chef Sarah Lange.

(Amy Scattergood/Los Angeles Times)

Chocolate and Brandy Cherry Shortcakes

These shortbreads are made with cocoa and chopped bittersweet chocolate and a little espresso. Use fresh fruit here rather than dried for the brandied cherries, poaching in armagnac, orange liqueur, cinnamon, peppercorns and orange zest.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 1h15. For 8 people.

Chocolate and Brandy Cherry Shortcakes

(Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times)

Cherry, Honey and Fennel Bread

Prepare this wholemeal bread sprinkled with cherries, toasted pine nuts and fragrant fennel seeds. Mix, bake, and cool (resist the urge to cut into that hot bread) and you have a great breakfast bread. Coat it with honey butter and drink it with coffee.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes. For 12 people.

Cherry, honey and fennel bread

(Robert Lachman/Los Angeles Times)

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