As soon as I publicly admitted that I’m not very good at making pie crusts and don’t have a recipe I really like, I knew I had to change that. (Truth be told, and bacon apple pie aside, I’ve avoided pies for years because of my crust-phobia.) Then I heard these cherries calling to me from across the farmer’s market. There were just two boxes of bright red Michigan sour cherries sitting among the bings, and I heard them calling just in time to watch one leave with someone else. My fate was sealed. I quickly swooped in to grab the last box. Afterall, what better way to end a pie drought than with cherry pie? Now I just needed a crust.
There’s a white mulberry tree a few blocks from my house. It’s in the yard in front of an apartment building and every year it drops tons of berries on the ground, but no one seems to pick any of them. I’ve been walking past it on my way to and from work every day for more than three years now. It took me while to think “Hey, those berries look edible. If no one else is using them, I should.” Then it took me a while longer to indentify the tree. (I may be foolish, but not so foolish to eat unknown berries from an unknown tree.) I finally got a positive ID on the tree last fall, just in time for the tree to stop growing berries for the year. So this spring when it started growing berries, I was determined to pick some.
I saw these in Gourmet a few years back. I was looking for something chocolate for my Christmas party that year. They looked a bit fussy, but also very rich: perfect for the holidays. That first time I made them mostly as shown in the magazine: chocolate and mint. A few hours into the party, people started commenting on the brownies. “What’s in these?” “They’re so good.” “I can’t stop eating them.” and eventually “I know if I eat one more of these brownies, I’m going to die, but yet I can’t stop myself from eating it. They’re like crack.” Ever since, they’ve been known as Eli’s Crack Brownies.
Sit down kids, it’s time for a story. A year ago two of my co-workers went to an apple orchard. On the way home, they stopped at a butcher and bought, among other things, cinnamon bacon. Now, they didn’t plan this, but once cinnamon bacon and apples were in the same car, it was only a matter of time before someone said “Bacon Apple Pie!” And so it came to pass.
Let’s just get this out in the open right off the bat. Yes, this clafouti looks like a rather nasty bruise. Between the dark cherries sticking up above the surface and the cherry juice pooled around them…well, I’ve definitely seen better looking desserts. But let me assure you, it TASTES nothing like a bruise. I considered not posting this at all because of the look, but it is very tasty. So…after that rousing endorsement, how can you do anything but rush out to make this? Indeed.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a near-obsession with upside down cakes. I’ve got a few stand-bys that I make several times a summer – which means they’re REALLY good since there are few thing I actually make twice. But I’m always on the lookout for something new. Well, this is something new and probably a soon-to-be-standby as well.
A few weeks ago I made a wedding cake for a friend. This is not something that I do often by any means. I will admit that I took classes in wedding cakes and sugars and such back in school…but that was a few years ago, and I can’t say that I’ve really kept up on the skills in the meantime. Suffice it to say I was more than a little nervous about the cake, but it turned out well and the bride was very pleased, so that’s what matters. Perhaps someday I’ll write more about the whole big thing. This is about the test run I did for the chocolate layers.
If you see one, tell me.)
I tested out a few different chocolate cake recipes, but I had an idea this would be the one before I baked any of them. By the time I had the batter mixed, I was positive this was the winner. When it came out of the oven, I decided to skip the third recipe I had planned to test altogether. Seriously. This cake really is that good – moist, rich (but not too rich) and chocolaty. AND it’s sturdy enough to hold up as a wedding cake.
I’d never made a recipe that called for mixing cocoa powder with boiling water. I was quite surprised to see it turn into something resembling ganache. Guess there’s always something new to learn. Other than that, the recipe is easy as hell on top of everything else. What’s the downside? (Really. If you see one, tell me.)