If you’re looking for a quick and easy dessert to add to your Fourth of July blowout, this is it. I almost feel silly posting a recipe for it, but hey, sometimes we need a simple, good idea more than we need a gussied-up production number.
As a born-and-raised Michigan girl there are certain things I can’t say no to, and ripe, dark, sweet cherries are one of them. For all my Michigan peeps, you know what I’m talking about. We are children raised on the fruit of the Cherry Capital: Traverse City, home of the National Cherry Festival.
As a kid, rolling “Up North” in the back of my mom’s behemoth Cadillac Eldorado, the highway was dashed and dotted with white-washed cherry stands. Their handpainted signs called out to passers-by, “Washed Black Cherries! Freshly Picked!” We almost always ended up with a bag of crisp and shiny, black sweet cherries by the time we reached Boyne Falls, and soon our fingers were cherry-stained and the pits were littered along the Mackinaw Trail Highway. They were so big and firm and ripe that the skins made an audible, juicy *pop* when bitten. The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack beat late-seventies rythms from the 8-track tape player, and as the sun lit the rolling, wildflower-covered hills in the most alluring shade of gold our cries of, “Are we there yet?” were finally answered with, “YES!”
Our old dog, Dock, who lived to be 18, knew the minute we hit the long and winding wooded drive to the cottage. A car door would open and he would hop out from the floor of the back seat and run ahead of the car, guiding us down the driveway. Soon we would be barefoot on the dock, ready for a dip in the clear blue waters of Walloon Lake. This was our family’s happy place, purchased with the money from my dad’s life insurance policy after he died suddenly and unexpectedly from Leukemia at 36 years old. A 1920′s white salt box with knotty pine walls and disco-daisy curtains (before my mom redecorated it sometime in the nineties)– this was where we kicked off summer, on the same waters Ernest Hemingway was reared on. My mom took a month-long hiatus from running my father’s company, and for 30 days we were a family unburdened, living in that soft, dreamlike place.
I don’t get to go there this summer, and it’s been on my mind so huge. Walloon always is this time of year, whether I am en route or just longing to be. As my fellow Northern-Michigan-born-Montana-transplants know, summer is beautiful here on the rivers and in the mountains, but nothing compares to the lakes of Northern Michigan. We are plagued with nostalgia for our summers spent in and upon them. So when I see the sacks of shiny sweet cherries show up at the market, even though they’re from Washington or the Flathead Valley, I buy them over and over until the season fades, and as I sit on our back stoop and spit the pits into the lilac trees, a little piece of me is 10 again, running straight off the end of the dock, carefree, airborne, and joyful as ever.
I can’t wait to share that place, and that feeling with James, but it will have to wait until next summer, when we’re done with another batch of renovations to The Ranchito. This summer however, for his very first Fourth of July, James and I will be visiting Dad at work, watching the fireworks over Missoula from the roof of the hospital. Sometimes, being a pilot’s wife has it’s perks. As we do, this is what I will be passing around: Cherry Bombs, dipped in dark chocolate, cloaked in almond-infused whipped cream, igniting the sweet taste of summer on our tongues.
Recipe : Chocolate Covered Cherry Bombs
This quick and easy recipe is a great way to adorn those ripe summer cherries. With a quick dip in some molten dark chocolate and a dab of almond-infused whipped cream, this is a treat of simple, summertime pleasures– perfect for the Fourth of July.
Keep in mind that when chocolate-dipping cherries, they need to have stems, so look for some with nice-looking and intact stems. I purchased a 1 lb. bag and ended up with about 60% or 3 dozen usable cherries, so if you’re buying them by the bag, plan on having some extra cherries for snacking.
- 1 pound sack of dark, sweet cherries, room temperature
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 8 ounces heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar (or substitute powdered sugar)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Sprinkles, for garnish (optional)
- parchment paper
Rinse and thoroughly dry the cherries on a clean kitchen towel. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small double boiler, melt the chocolate. Holding them by the stem, dip the cherries into the chocolate and carefully place on parchment-lined sheet pan. Once all the cherries are dipped, place in refrigerator until ready to serve (they can be made up to 1 day in advance).
Immediately before serving, combine the whipping cream, agave nectar, and almond extract in a large mixing bowl and whip until soft peaks form. On a serving tray place dollops of whipped cream, adorn with sprinkles (if desired) and plop a cherry into the center of each little cloud of whipped cream. Serve immediately.
Note: If you have a bit of leftover melted chocolate you can easily turn it into this irresistible bark. Toss in a few sliced almonds, a few dried cherries, and a sprinkling of rice krispies. Give it a quick stir with a rubber spatula and spread the chocolate in a 1/4-inch thick layer on parchment. Sprinkle with your favorite salt (I used Himalayan Pink Salt). Chill and devour as desired.