Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cherries Under Hats

Cherries Under Hoods  Photos by Steve Shanahan

First published Canberra Times 7 December 2011.

This dish, popular in Burgundy, is made with fresh season cherries baked under a crust of crispy pastry.  The original French, Cerises en Capuche, translates to cherries under a monk’s cowl. As the name suggests it is thought to originate in monasteries dotted around Burgundy.

The pastry tops on these pies rise from the steam from the hot cherries underneath and hold the heat to keep the pastry upright. A delicious steam is released when the pastry is broken and the addition of a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream oozes and melts into the hot cherries to create a sensual delight.

Although this could be a winter dish to be made with tinned cherries, the option of using our gorgeous local fresh cherries is way too tempting and a perfect dessert for a special Christmas dinner.

If you are keen you could make your own puff pastry, but given all the competing Christmas cooking commitments and for sanity sake, I would suggest that ready- made puff pastry would be perfectly adequate.
Cherries being flambéed

3-4 sheets of ready made puff pastry
750g dark sweet cherries, pitted
2 tbsp butter
45g sugar
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
¼ cup Cognac or Brandy
1 egg, beaten
good quality vanilla ice cream for serving

Chill the puff pastry for 30 minutes. Melt the butter in a large frying pan, stir in the sugar, and heat gently stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Add the cherries and sauté over high heat for1 minute. Add the redcurrant jelly and stir until dissolved. Simmer until the cherries are almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Flambé the cherries, by warming the Brandy or Cognac in a small saucepan, and then stand back and set it alight. Pour it, flaming, over the cherries and baste them until the flames die. Set them aside. If you don’t want to flambé the cherries, just add the brandy to the cherries, cooking for a further 5 minutes.

Heat the oven to 200C. Place the pie dishes on a baking sheet and heat them in the oven. Cut out 4 rounds from the pastry sheets, each a few centimetres larger in diameter than the pie dish. Chill the pastry rounds on a paper lined baking sheet in the freezer until firm, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Brush the chilled dough rounds with egg glaze. Remove the pie dishes from the oven. Heat the cherries just to a boil and spoon them into the hot serving bowls. Brush the outside rim of the bowls generously with egg glaze. Lay a round of dough over each bowl and shape to the bowl, pressing to seal the edges with the glaze. Work quickly so the dough does not soften from the heat.

Bake the cherries until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes; the steam from the hot cherries will puff it to a high dome. If necessary, trim any ragged bits of puff pastry with a knife to neaten the edges. Serve the cherries at once with scoops of vanilla ice cream in a separate bowl.

Quantity serves 4.

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