In Season: Cherries + Short Stack Cherry Crumb Cake & Chocolate Cherry Tart Recipes

ParisPaysanne-CherrySeason

I get a little obsessed when it comes to foraging, I think it's because foraging seasons are so fleeting. In the blink of an eye bear's garlic will go to flower, nettles become stalky and unappetizing, and wild strawberries dry under the early summer sun. Of all these forage-ready fruits and flowers, cherries seem to be the most short-lived.

First of all, the weather has to be just right to have any cherries to start with- a cold winter, frosts, or a late arrival of springtime sun will delay or prevent the arrival of cherry blossoms and cherries themselves. Then there's the birds, who are often quicker to harvest than humans (and don't need to drag out a ladder to get the ruby red fruit hanging from the higher boughs).

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Even in a perfect year, with the perfect earlier-than-the-birds timing, cherries ripen and fall from the tree with such speed that you may find yourself stomping on more fruit underfoot than you grab overhead

So you can see why I step to at the sight of the first red cherries bursting from the branches of cherry trees in our village. About a week ago, our generous neighbors sent me a text announcing "Cherry season is open! Come and pick whenever you want!" At 8 1/2 months pregnant, I was dissuaded from climbing a ladder (or the cherry tree itself, a precarious endeavor pregnant or not) and so had to wait until my boyfriend had time off to come help harvest. 

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I managed to remain patient until the weekend, when we crossed the street to our neighbor's yard, armed with baskets and bags to fill with fresh-from-the-branch fruit. I get greedy when it comes to free fruit, which I think is a quality if not a vice, I think the bird's are fine with sharing, and I have big plans for each cherry that ends up in my panier

Cherries are great raw, served simply in a bowl as a dessert, but if you have a ton of them, why not have some fun? I took cherry season as an opportunity to try two new recipes- both from the Short Stack Editions Volume on Cherries. The Chocolate Cherry Tart is a decadent and rich way to end a dinner party and the Sweet Cherry Crumb Cake turned out to be a great way to start your day (paired with a cup of coffee, yum!!). As the heat wave hit its stride, we kept the crumble cake in the fridge and ate it fresh as a midday goûter as well. 

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Sweet Cherry Crumb Cake 

from Short Stack Editions "Cherries" by Stacy Adimando

For the crumb topping: 

2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (55 grams) rolled oats

1 firmly packed cup (120 grams) light brown sugar

1/4 cup (55 grams) cane sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup (225 grams) + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into medium sized cubes, then left out to soften

For the cake:

1 pound (450 grams) sweet red cherries

3/4 cup (170 grams) + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, sofftened

2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) cane sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (240 grams) full-fat sour cream

Preparation: 

Make the crumb topping: In a large bowl, add the flour, oats, both sugars, cinnamon and salt; stir to combine. Add the butter and mix with your fingers, being sure to incorporate all the sugar from the bottom of the bowl, to form a moist, crumbly texture. Cover the crumb mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to bake the cake.

Make the cake: Pit the cherries using a method that will keep the flesh of the fruit intact. Place them in a medium paper towel-lined bowl to absorb excess juices. Refrigerate the cherries while you prepare the rest of the cake. 

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9-by-13 inch baking dish or pan with butter and set it aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt: whisk briefly to combine. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer), beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed, until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated. With the mixer at low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture (in three batches) and the sour cream (in two batches), beating just until incorporated, and starting and ending with the flour mixture. (Stop the mixture between each addition and/or stir in the last few batches with a spoon so as not to overmix.) 

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, using a spatula to spread it evenly to fill the corners. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter.

Bake the cake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the crumbs are golden brown and a cake tester inserter into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let the cake cool before serving. 

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Chocolate Cherry Tart

I switched out the chocolate crust for this tart with my recipe for Zesty Hazelnut Crust (I left out the zest in this case) get the recipe here. Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes (or until golden) then remove from oven and let cool before adding the filling.

For the filling and topping: 

1 cup (240 grams) heavy cream

10 ounces (280 grams) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 large egg plus 1 large yolk

1 teaspoon orange liqueur, such as Cointreau

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Flaky sea salt, for garnish

15-20 whole cherries, pitted and halved vertically for garnish

Homemade whipped cream for serving (optional)

Preparation:

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a simmer over medium heat. Set a heatproof bowl over the pot without touching the water; add the cream and chocolate and cook, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula, until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is well combined. Remove the bowl and set aside to cool slightly. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolk. To temper the egg so it doesn't scramble, whisk 1 to 2 tablespoons of the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, then slowly whisk the egg mixture into the larger bowl of chocolate until it's completely combined. Stir in the orange liqueur, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.

Pour the chocolate filling into the tart shell, using a spatula as needed to help spread the filling evenly in the shell. Set the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake until the filling is just set but jiggles slightly when the pan is shaken, 18 to 20 minutes.

Remove the tart from the oven and sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt. Let the tart cool completely, then top with the cherries, cut side down. Slice and serve with whipped cream, if desired. 

Citrus Bars with Zesty Hazelnut Crust

Citrus is our reminder of the importance of gratitude. At the end of the winter, when our immunity against seasonal colds and our patience for eating rough root vegetables has hit its breaking point, these bright orange and yellow gems come to our rescue. 

The intoxicating odor of citrus fruits has unfailingly seduced me throughout the month of February, and my citrus binges became pretty serious in March. On a recent trip to Paris, I stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies at the fabulous Terroirs d'Avenir, paying no heed to the extra baggage I would be dragging along with me to the train station. 

I couldn't bear leaving the beautiful bergamot and hefty grapefruits behind, imagining the lovely breakfasts that would help me start off the coming days. It wasn't until I saw a photo posted by my friend Stacey of The Modern Domestique of a lemon bar she made with Meyer Lemons from her parent's garden that I thought of an alternate use for my citrus haul. 

Full disclosure: these are mostly lemon bars, but I encourage adding that extra quarter cup of juice from something else: whether it be bergamot, grapefruit, clementines or even limes- just to experience the full scope of these lovely tart and bitter, sweet and sour fruits, plus the extra zest really perks up the hazelnut crust

Be sure to save all the shells and peels of the fruit to put in a large jar of water and make a refreshing, vitamin c packed beverage to enjoy throughout the day. 

Citrus Bars with Zesty Hazelnut Crust

For the crust: 

1 cup (100 grams) shelled hazelnuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan over high heat

2 cups (230 grams) all purpose flour

2 tbsps granulated sugar

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1 cup (225 grams) salted butter, cold and cubed

1-2 tbsps ice water

Zest from one of each citrus fruit used in the bars (lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, etc.) 

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9" X 13" oven safe pan with butter or cooking oil. In a food processor or blender, pulse together flour, hazelnuts, salt, and sugar. If using a food processor, add cubes of butter directly to the mixture and pulse until it becomes a course meal. If using a blender, transfer the mix to a bowl and do this part by hand. Add the ice cold water as needed if the dough gets too dry. Press the dough into the bottom of the oven safe pan, creating an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until golden) then remove from oven and let cool. 

For the bars: 

5 large eggs

1 1/2 cup (275 grams) granulated sugar

3/4 cup (180 mL) lemon juice (4-5 large lemons)

1/4 cup (60mL) juice from 1 bergamot, grapefruit, lime,  or other citrus fruit of your choice

1/4 cup (30 grams) all purpose flour

Zest from all the fruits used

Powdered sugar (optional)

Whisk together eggs and sugar until combined (color should become a pale yellow). Stir in juices and zests. Sift in the flour, stirring it in as it's added. Pour the mixture over the warm crust and bake 15-25 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving if using. 

Valentine's Day Special: Couples of the Paris Food Scene

Photo courtest of Boneshaker Doughnuts

Photo courtest of Boneshaker Doughnuts

While I prefer Galentine's Day over the more traditional Valentine's Day, I think celebrating love is a pretty great idea in general- especially given the horrors perpetrated by the very un-loving Trump administration these past few weeks. 

Relationships are full of challenges, whether with your bestie, your partner, or yourself, and they are also full of rewards -all of which deserve a glass of bubbly and more than one day a year of recognition (okay, more than one glass of bubbly, too while we're at it)! 

As Valentine's Day approached it occurred to me that the Paris food scene is full of happy couples that not only live together, but work together, too. Doubling their commitment to extend beyond each other but into their careers as well is an impressive act of love and collaboration.

Some of my favorite places to eat and drink in Paris exist thanks to the dedication and creativity behind these love-fueled collaborations. So in honor of one of Valentine's Day, here are a few of my favorite couples in the Paris food scene

Amanda & Louis: Boneshaker Doughnuts

It hasn't yet been a year since Boneshaker Doughnuts has existed as a brick and mortar doughnut shop in the 2nd arrondissement, but the story behind how the little bakery came to be goes back much further. "Louis and I met in Paris in 2002" co-founder Amanda Scott explained to me. "He and my then-boyfriend bartended together at the same Irish pub in St. Germain des Près. Back then, he sported a shoulder-length ponytail (!!), a billy goat beard, and enormous lamb chop sideburns. I remember watching him once, around 3 am, balancing on top of kegs and racing them across the pub. It's funny to look back and think that we'd end up married - neither of us had any idea at the time! "

Their paths crossed again seven years later, when they were both single and developed a mutual crush. "it look him a year to kiss me...and another year after that for us to decide to make it official." After that, things moved quickly,  "Lou and I got married in 2013, our son, Loïc, was born in 2014, and we started making doughnuts in 2015. We opened to doors to our shop, Boneshaker, in 2016."

Both veterans of the service industry, the couple dreamed of having a place of their own. "Louis and I knew that we wanted our business to combine high-quality ingredients and craftsmanship with a casual, happy vibe that suited our lifestyle... we realized a doughnut shop would encompass all of those things, as well as coffee (unlimited access to delicious coffee is definitely a perk!)" American born, Amanda had lots of examples to inspire her from her homeland, "we modeled Boneshaker on the mom and pop doughnut shops that you find in American beach towns, with a Parisian touch."

The key to working with the one you love? "We’re often asked how we manage to live and work together," Amanda says. "I guess the simplest (and most eyeroll-worthy) answer is that we genuinely enjoy each other's company. We laugh a lot. Also, the fact that I'm upstairs in the kitchen and he's downstairs in the shop probably helps a bit - we each have our own roles within the business, and a bit of distance on bad days. And doughnuts."

Jaclyn & Pierre: Biérocratie

Jaclyn and Pierre, co-owners of the Biérocratie in the 13th arrondissement, hadn't always planned on making a living out of bringing great craft beer to the people of Paris. Originally from the U.S., Jaclyn came to Paris to study to be a pastry chef at Le Cordon Bleu while Pierre was building a career in computer programming.  

A housewarming party held by mutual friends would bring the two together one fateful night, but the idea to go into business together didn't come until later. "After a couple of years together, both of us experienced a sort of overall dissatisfaction with our respective careers - I loved working as a pastry chef, but never had enough hours, and Pierre was getting pushed into management positions at his IT development job." explains Jaclyn Gidel. "We got to talking about it, and realized that it was a really great opportunity to quit our jobs and create something together. Our common love of beer, paired with the growing craft beer movement, inspired us to open up Biérocratie."

Jaclyn and Pierre continue to stock quality craft beer in their shop as well collaborate on beer events with local bars like Les Trois 8. The paris has even embarked on another collaboration together: brewing their own beer! We'll keep an eye on what they have in store for us next! 

Maily & Jocelyn: Le Triangle

Maily and Jocelyn, two-thirds of the team behind microbrewery and restaurant Le Triangle, may have opened a business in Paris, but their story started abroad. 

"I was working in Montreal for a French company and Jocelyn came to work for us as a freelance graphic designer," explains Maily Malfreyt. "He was already an amateur brewer and working at Vices et Versa in Montreal. The funny thing is I wasn't at all interested in beer at the time- I thought we would have nothing to talk about. Seven years later we work together every day and I find myself serving and selling beer!"

The formula works, with Jocelyn making the beer, Maily greeting and taking care of guests with her signature smiles and warmth, and Laurent, Maily's brother in the kitchen, representing the third side of the triangle. 

Finding balance while working with loved ones is key, Maily says. "If I had one thing to say about working with my partner it's this: if we're still together today it's because we're very complimentary and different when it comes to working and our personalities. We're not in each other's way and we each have our job. There's also a mutual admiration," Maily adds, "I've always had a passion for passionate people!"

Happy Valentine's Day to these happy couples and to all of you out there making it work together! I'd love to hear more about couples in the industry- feel free to leave your favorite Paris partnerships in the comments!