Is there any better taste of summer than sweet bing cherries? You're giving me that look, aren't you. The "It's not summer yet, Heather, not in your neck of the woods. Fuck you smilin' about?" look.
Okay, sigh, I bought off-season produce from California. Sue me.
How could I resist? We won't have succulent chin-dripper stone fruits in Oregon for at least two months (especially if it never stops raining), and I want them now, dammit! Besides, I know what to do with a sassy little bag of cherries. Oh, do I ever.
Some of you in the Forty and Fabulous set remember Kirsch as that cherry brandy that you add to fondue to let the cheese melt without clumpy into a greasy wad - this is the same stuff. Kirschwasser ("cherry water" in German) is just a double-distilled brandy made of mashed cherries, that is clear for lack of aging in wood. Portland's own Clear Creek Distillery make one that is really superb.
Since I wanted to maintain the sanguine color of cherries, I knew I'd need to add a bit of acid to the glaze, so I used the juice from my last blood orange (killing two red birds with one stone). I also added a splash of Bokbunjajoo for sweetness (and to add to the color). For the record, Bokbunjajoo tastes exactly like Loganberry Manischewitz and is to be avoided at all costs, even if you are a Korean celebrating Passover. It was a terrible err in judgment whilst wandering the booze aisle at Fubonn, and I hope that you will all learn from my mistake.
You might remember that I am afraid of pastry, and in fact can only brave a galette because they are expected to be fugly (rustic, I mean rustic). Yes, I ventured into some unsteady waters with that first experiment with savory-sweet dessert, and baby, I came out swimming. This time I went a little more aggressive with the pepper since I had the intrepid sweetness of cherry acting as the backbone.
Cherry galettes with black pepper-Kirschwasser glaze
This would probably be great with Rainier cherries or even plums. I'm totally making them with plums in a few months. Makes 4 galettes.
Prepare the pastry dough:
1.5 c AP flour
2 pinches salt
3 tbsp sugar
8 tbsp (one stick) cold butter
~like 5 or 6 tbsp ice water
Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a food processor (or with a pastry cutter) cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal with pea-sized nubs of butter. Sprinkle in the ice water and stir together (or pulse a couple times) until the dough starts to come together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and mush the dough together into a ball. Quarter the dough and wrap each in plastic wrap. Fridge for an hour or freezer for 20-30 minutes until the dough resembles modeling clay in texture.
Prepare the fruit:
2 oz. (an airline bottle) Kirschwasser
2 tbsp blood orange juice (or 1 tsp lemon juice)
2 tbsp Bokbunjajoo (or other cloying red booze - I guess sloe gin would work), or omit
2 tbsp sugar
Simmer down to a syrup (thick enough to be brushed without making pastry soggy).
~6 c bing cherries, pitted and halved (this was like 8 handfuls)
1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1 tbsp sugar
pinch Chinese 5 spice
Toss fruit together with other ingredients.
Pull the dough out of the chiller and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out as thin as is praticable - you should get each ball to about 10" in diameter. Arrange the cherries fastidiously all concave-up as pictured (you think I'm just being fussy, but this will be crucial for pooling the juice and glaze). Brush the glaze over the fruit and give each galette another crack of pepper. Fold over the edges of the dough rustically (if you want perfection then you'd be making a tarte and not a galette). Brush the dough with some milk or cream and sprinkle a pinch of sugar over the top.
Bake for 10 minutes, then brush more glaze over the fruit. Another ten minutes, and brush some glaze. Then bake another 5-10 more minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Brush once more and cool on a rack. Serve warm with black walnut ice cream, thundershowers and Nude.