During the short time fresh cherries are available in the market, I can't seem to get around to cooking with them—they're so good for popping into your mouth straight up, I just never save enough to work into actual dishes. But this year, I'm determined to resist temptation and find new, interesting ways to enjoy these early-summer treasures. In savory applications, their deep, fruity sweetness works well with rich meats, like duck breast, or tangy goat cheese. In desserts like pie or cobbler, of course, they're one of the essential flavors of the season, their vivid color and luscious flavor epitomizing peak summer bounty. We've even got a cocktail recipe or two that incorporates cherries. Like all good things, cherry season is always gone too soon—so get crackin' on these eight recipes while you still can.
Classic Cherry Clafoutis
A clafoutis is a dessert of understated elegance—it may look pretty darn impressive, but it's a breeze to make. All you have to do is pour a simple batter over sweet pitted cherries, then bake. The dish comes out light, puffed, and golden brown, something like a cross between a Dutch baby and a popover, and it's excellent with a dollop of whipped cream.
Easy Stovetop Cherry Grunt (Stovetop Cobbler)
I'm not in love with cranking up the oven in the middle of summer, so one of my favorite features of this easy dish is that it's made entirely on the stovetop. If you can't find the fresh sour cherries called for in this recipe—they can be elusive—feel free to use frozen ones. We cook them simply with sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, and a little cornstarch, then top them with a biscuit dough. And vanilla ice cream, of course.
Mini Sweet Cherry Pies
You can't talk cherry desserts without talking cherry pie. Individual pies give you that same sweet, bursting-with-juice cherry filling and buttery crust, but in an easy-to-handle form that's great for parties. Start with our Easy Pie Dough, then fill it with a mixture of cherries, sugar, and cornstarch or tapioca starch. They bake up in a muffin tin instead of a pie plate—adorable, we know.
Cherry Hand Pies
These rustic-looking hand pies are even more portable, practical, and picnic-friendly. The filling gets a little extra flavor from lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract—and, incidentally, doubles as a tasty topping for ice cream if you don't want to bother with pie-making.
Goat Cheese and Balsamic-Roasted-Cherry Crostini
Cherries are delicious in savory preparations, making an especially nice partner for creamy cheeses. Here, we coat them in a balsamic glaze, highlighting their sweetness, and pair them with tangy goat cheese on toasted slices of crusty baguette. The sturdy bread is a good counterpoint to the softness of the toppings.
Peppered Duck Breasts With Cherry-Port Sauce
Rich, fatty meats like duck and sweet stone fruits like cherries are a match made in heaven. In this recipe, we serve a robust cherry-port sauce on top of juicy, crisp-skinned grilled duck breast. Balsamic vinegar and shallots give the sauce just enough pungent and acidic edge to cut through the fruit's sweetness.
Cherry Sumac Swizzle
Typically, a swizzle is made with rum, lime, sugar, and lots of crushed ice. This variation pairs rum with sweet Velvet Falernum—which carries flavors of clove, ginger, lime, and bitter almond—and a tangy cherry-sumac syrup. The tartness of the sumac helps to balance out the vanilla and spice flavors from the liquor. Stir it vigorously to build frost and start diluting the drink—you'll get extra points for using an authentic swizzle stick, but a barspoon works just fine.
Grilled Summer Smash
During summer, I try to grill as many things as I can—including my cocktails, or, rather, the ingredients that go into them. We grill all the fruit for this smash—nectarine, lime, and cherries—until it's slightly caramelized and charred. While summer is usually a time for clear spirits, we like to make this cocktail with a funky aged cachaça.