Crumbles, tarts and brownies: Michelle Darmody bakes with cherries

Crumbles, tarts and brownies: Michelle Darmody bakes with cherries
Michelle Darmody's cherry crumble

With the summer months come cherries. During the year I buy frozen ones but nothing beats the shine and bittersweet tartness of a freshly grown cherry. I can quite easily eat a whole punnet in one sitting - which is an expensive habit, even at the height of cherry season. 

Growing up in Ireland in the eighties cherries were most likely to be the maraschino kind; near luminous red globes usually found sitting plump on top of a halved grapefruit. These are soaked in sugar syrup and colourings and will last a very long time at the back of your cupboard.

Today cherries can be bought fresh, and if you are lucky enough to have a fruit farm in your area, like Traas's Apple farm near Cahir, they are local as well.

Dried cherries are another way to get access to a nice cherry flavour if there are no fresh ones available.

Destoning a fresh cherry can be tricky if you want to keep it intact. A tool can be purchased to do the job, but I tend to use the top of a small bottle and a chopstick. Sit the cherry on the bottle with the stem side facing up. Push a chopstick through the cherry so that the stone falls into the bottle below and the cherry still sits on top. You can of course press the cherry with a knife and pull the stone out, but you will lose the lovely round shape.

It is said that cherries contain melatonin which helps you sleep at night, and a good night's sleep is something we are all after these days. Either way they provide nutrients and fibre and taste great.

Cherry crumble 

for the topping:

  • 160g of plain flour 
  • 80g of soft brown sugar 
  • 80g of cold butter, cubed 
  • 80g of porridge oats 
  • 80g of hazel nuts, chopped 

for the filling:

  • 400g cherries, de stoned 
  • 2 tbs of honey 
  • the zest of two oranges 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Mix the flour and sugar together. Rub in the butter until it looks like rough breadcrumbs. Stir in the porridge oats and nuts.

Toss the cherries in the honey and zest and place them into an oven proof dish.

Sprinkle the topping over the cherries and bake 30 minutes until golden.

Mini bakewell tarts 

  • 120g of butter 
  • 110g of golden caster sugar 
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten 
  • 1 tsp of almond essence 
  • 1 tbs of plain flour 
  • 110g of ground almonds 
  • about 550g of puff pastry sheets 
  • 90g of cherry jam 
  • 12 fresh cherries, destoned
    Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 12 hole bun-tin with paper cases.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the egg and almond essence and then add the flour and ground almonds. Set aside.

Cut 12 circles of pastry from your sheets. The circles will need to neatly fit into the bun cases in your tin. Allow each circle to gently fit into the cases and prick lightly with a fork. Divide the cherry jam between the discs in the bun tins. Fill them with the frangipane, with some room left for it to rise. Place a cherry in the centre of each.

Bake for 20 minutes until the frangipane is golden and baked through. Allow to cool in the tin.

Chocolate fudge brownies with sour cherries

Freshly baked chocolate brownies with cherries
Freshly baked chocolate brownies with cherries
  • 215g of dark chocolate, broken into small even size pieces 
  • 190g of golden caster sugar 
  • 165g of soft butter 
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 2 tsp of vanilla 
  • 1/2 tsp of fine sea salt 
  • 95g of plain flour 
  • 30g of cocoa powder 
  • 80g of sour cherries
    Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line an 8 inch square tin with parchment.

Set aside 100g of the chocolate chips. Melt the other 115g over a pot of boiling water and set aside.

Mix the sugar and butter until completely combined, slowly add in the eggs, vanilla and salt. Add in the flour and cocoa until they too are combined then stir in the melted chocolate.

Stir the remaining chocolate pieces and the sour cherries into the mixture, set aside some cherries for sprinkling.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin and sprinkle the remaining cherries on top and bake for about 35 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin and cut into as many squares as you would like. They are rich so a small one may do.

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