Fresh cherries have flooded the markets and of course I wasted no time buying my share, which basically means that every time I’m out and about I pick up another bag (or two).
(I’ve even been looking for errands to run just to have an excuse to go out and pick up some more…definitely a windfall for Mike, who not only loves cherries, but now views standing in lines at the post office and bank a thing of the past…at least until the end of cherry season. ;) )
So what do I do with all my loot?, you might be wondering.
In addition to eating fresh cherries by the fistful, I like to toss them into salads, roasted vegetables, or marinades, and also use them as a topping for ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, or oatmeal. They are also delicious added to a smoothie or even a bowl of cereal...and of course they’re a beautiful addition to baked goods.
My inspiration for these little lovelies was a combination of cheese Danish pastries and my strawberry shortcake cupcakes. For these cupcakes, I decided to add sour cream to the cake batter (which was a slight adaptation of my recipe for classic yellow cake), and I filled the cupcakes with cream cheese and homemade cherry filling. I used fresh cherries to make the filling, but any kind of berries you like would be delicious; in a time crunch, store-bought preserves would also work well.
If you haven’t tried sour cream cake I definitely recommend it…it’s gloriously rich and moist with a very tender crumb. You could even make this cake on its own and glaze it with a simple vanilla glaze (recipe below), or serve it topped with fresh berries and whipped cream.
- 1 lb (about 3 cups) fresh or frozen sweet black cherries, pitted and halved
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with ¼ cup cold water to form a slurry
- 1½ cups white sugar
- ½ cup canola oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup light sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 oz cream cheese (low-fat is fine), cut into 18 pieces
- ½ cup (2 oz) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- For the cherry filling, in a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the cherries, water, and sugar (uncovered) until the cherries are softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cornstarch slurry and cook another 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly (the mixture will thicken). Cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge while you make the cupcakes (it will thicken more as it cools).
- For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350F and line a muffin tray with paper liners. With a handheld electric beater, beat together the sugar and oil, and then cream in eggs until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the sour cream and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually the stir dry ingredients into wet until just combined, making sure not to over-mix.
- Fill each cupcake liner with about ¼ cup of batter (they should be about ¾ full). Add a scant tablespoon of cherry filling to each, and then add one piece of cream cheese, pushing it down slightly.
- Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean or with just a couple crumbs.
- Cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the tray and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before glazing.
- For the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients, then drizzle over the cooled cupcakes.
- Let the glaze set before serving.