cherry chocolate granola


cherry and chocolate granola
Summer is the one time of the year that I get super excited and obsessed with every fresh and colorful ingredient that I can get my hands on. It goes without saying that cherries are never spared, they get devoured in this house and sometimes they don't make it home from the market. 


sweet red cherries

Granola is one of those things, I refuse to waste money on. For one, it is really easy to make and the ingredients are cheap, and secondly, I find the pre-made versions to be a bit too sweet and/or expensive. This granola recipe has a fresh cherry puree that's cooked into the oats with a heaving dosing of chocolate flavors. This granola is just like a black forest cake but with a tasty dose of toasted sliced almonds. There's a whole lotta crunch with every chocolatey bite you take combined with a hint of sweet and tart cherry flavor. Maybe I should have called this the "black forest granola" ?


cherry baked granola

I used a fresh cherry puree to flavor the granola versus actual cherry fruit bits because I wanted the cherry flavors to be absorbed by the oatmeal and coat every bit. I've used ghee here but you can also substitute coconut oil in the same amount. I've made it both ways and it works great, ghee gives it a much more aromatic and nutty flavor.




fresh chocolate cherry granola
cherry chocolate granola

cherry + chocolate granola

yields: about 3 cups

ingredients

2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons ghee (or coconut oil)  + 1 tablespoon to grease the baking pan
1 cup (2 3/4 ounces) raw sliced almonds
1/4 cup (1 1/8 ounces) cacao nibs
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1 cup pureed sweet red cherries, fresh (simply puree 2 cups of sweet red cherries and use as needed)

1. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 250F. In the mean time, toast the oats in medium saucepan with a thick bottom on a medium-high flame. Cook with constant stirring until the oats begin to brown. This will take about 4-5 minutes.  Reduce the flame  to low and stir in the 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, cook for 1 minute. Remove the saucepan from the stove.
2. Add the almonds, cacao nibs, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, sea salt and cherry puree to the toasted oats. 
3. Pour the oat mixture onto a baking pan that's been lightly greased with the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil. Spread the mixture in a flat layer with a silicone spatula and bake for about 45-50 minutes. Check occasionally during baking to make sure the granola does not burn. Once the granola is cooked, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container (I store mine in the refrigerator, it stays fresh for a longer time). 

cherry ginger pie with spelt crust

cherry ginger pie with spelt crust

I hope each and everyone of you had a great weekend and those of you celebrating July 4th had a great one as well. We had a lovely weekend that was spent with friends who visited us from D.C., it was really, really nice to see familiar faces. I'm not missing the hustle and bustle of D.C. but I do miss my friends a little. We visited a few vineyards in Sonoma valley which was a fun trip. 

Cherry season is one of my favorite things to look to every summer but sadly it is also one of the shortest. So this week, I'm going to share two easy recipes back to back, that use cherries and I hope you like them. We've been getting tons sweet cherries here at the farmer's markets in California, so of course, yours truly has been partaking in eating copious amounts of these sweet little red bubbles of joy. 

cherry ginger pie filling

The first recipe this week is this delightful cherry pie that has a little kick of ginger in it. When I started out to develop this recipe, I wanted a pie with relatively little added sugar or sweeteners of any kind, this way I wouldn't feel too guilty when I ate the pie and you could taste the tart and sweet flavors of the cherries in the pie. Different people have different salt and sugar taste sensitivities, so what I will recommend that if you like this pie on the sweeter side, taste the pie filling while making it and then add a teaspoon or two of sugar. I love the texture of crystallized bits of ginger in baked goods, so I've bumped up the notch here by adding a little. You can leave the ginger bits out too, the gingers bits are crystallized in sugar so they do sweeten the cherry filling a little. 

pie tin and pie beads

I used my previous spelt crust recipe for this pie. This pie crust is very forgiving if it cracks during assembly, all you need to do is pressed the cracked ends together. Also, if you don't want to use my pie crust recipe you can use your own or your favorite pre-made pie crust. Feel free to style the pie pastry as creatively as you want, just make sure you create enough holes or slits to allow the pie to ventilate. Cherries are very juicy and will release a lot of moisture and steam during baking.

pie pastry

Pies are such a delightful treat to bake, they are rustic and remind me of busy kitchens with wooden stoves on old farms. I think a pie should be as messy as can be, dripping with all the delicious flavors that it holds that entice you. So go ahead enjoy cherry season and make some pie!

cherry ginger pie

cherry ginger pie with spelt crust

yields: one 9 inch pie

ingredients

Click here for the spelt pie crust ingredients

cherry pie filling

2 lbs sweet cherries, ripe
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 cup crystallized ginger bits (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar (*optional) I didn't add any sugar because these cherries were very sweet
1 teaspoon lime/lemon juice, freshly squeezed 
1/2 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch powder
1 tablespoon water

1. Wash and drain the cherries in a colander. Pit the cherries and discard the pits. Place half of the cherries in a thick bottomed saucepan with the ginger, crystallized ginger bits, *sugar (optional) and lime juice. Heat the contents on a medium-high flame and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer, cover with a lid and stir occasionally. Cook for 5-6 minutes until the cherries have become soft and mushy. Remove the contents of the saucepan and puree in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth. Return the puree back to the saucepan.
2. Add the vanilla and salt to the puree and bring the contents of the saucepan back to a boil on a medium-high flame. Whisk the cornstarch and the water in a small bowl and quickly mix into the puree. Stir until the puree thickens, this should take about a minute. Remove the saucepan from the stove and carefully fold the rest of the cherries into the puree. Cover the saucepan with a lid and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Keep aside until ready to use. 
Note: This pie filling can be prepared the day ahead and then refrigerated until ready to use.

Assembling & cooking the pastry and pie

1. Perform step1 to prepare the dough. Divide the dough into two equal parts, wrap with cling film and chill until ready to use.
2. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400F.  
3. Roll out one disc of dough and line a 9 inch pie pan with it. Pour the cherry pie filling prepared earlier into the prepared pie pan lined with the pastry dough. 
4. Roll out the second disc of pastry and cut out circles using the wider end of icing tip or a circular biscuit cutter (you can even use a small cookie cutter to make the holes extra special such as stars). Place the second sheet of pastry over the prepared pie and press the edges together and seal. Whisk the egg yolk with the water in a small bowl. Brush the surface of the pie with the egg yolk mixture.
5. Bake the pie in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until the crust turns golden brown. Reduce oven temperature to 350F and bake for another 35-40 minutes until the juices begin to bubble and the crust becomes a deep golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool for at least 2 hours on a wire rack before serving. 

cherry darjeeling tea lemon sorbet

darjeeling tea cherry lemon sorbet

Cherries make a happy sticky red mess whether you're eating or working with them in the kitchen. The juicier they are, the bigger the mess they make. I know this from first hand experience because I was still finding a few red spots today even though I thought I had done a superb job of cleaning up after myself! I might need one of those hazmat style protection wraps for my kitchen or one big "kitchen bib". But don't let the mess scare you off, this sorbet will make you very happy this summer.

cherries

I added a good dose of dark Indian tea leaves, the Darjeeling kind and infused the woody tea flavors into the sugar syrup before mixing it in with the fresh lemon juice and cherries. Once you make it, you can do what I did, serve it for tea in tea cups. It felt somewhat appropriate.....

cherry halving

Tea really does make everything better but it makes good things even better! 

lemon juice squeezing

Here are some of favorite food links of the week,

cherry darjeeling tea lemon sorbet

cherry darjeeling tea lemon sorbet

yields: 4-6 servings

ingredients

1 cup water
1 cup (7 3/8 ounces) sugar
1 tablespoon darjeeling tea leaves
5 3/4 ounces fresh ripe cherries, cleaned, sliced in half with stalks and stones removed
1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1. In a medium sized saucepan bring the water, sugar and tea leaves to a boil on a medium high flame to prepare a simple syrup. Once the liquid reaches a rolling boil, remove from the stove and strain the liquid through a tea strainer and discard the tea leaves. Keep the strained syrup aside until ready to use.
2. Place the cherries and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the cherries have formed a smooth puree. You can do this with an immersion blender too, just pulse until the cherries are completely pureed. Strain the puree through a sieve and press the pulp in the strainer with a spoon to squeeze as much fruit pulp as you can out. Save the fruit bits left behind in the strainer (I add them to pancakes or muffins or just eat them raw). With a whisk mix the strained cherry puree into the tea infused simple syrup to prepare the sorbet base.
3. Place the sorbet base into a clean gallon ziplock bag. Seal the bag airtight and place it an ice water bath for 20 minutes to cool completely. 
4. Pour the chilled sorbet base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker. Churn for about 20 minutes or until the sorbet is completely formed, it will acquire a slightly milky pink color. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight freezer safe container and cover with a layer of parchment paper. Press the surface of the paper gently to remove any trapped air bubbles. Freeze for at least 4 to 6 hours to firm completely before serving.