This classic dish from the French region of Limousin is one of the best uses for cherries I've yet come across. While it's fairly high in calories, it tastes so good that you most likely won't care. Most traditional recipes leave the stone in, but I haven't got many teeth left I can afford to break and so I usually remove them. If you don't have a cherry stoner to do this, you can remove the pits by running the fruit through with a skewer top to bottom, though this is a rather more tricky business. 500 grams sour cherries (such as morellos) 300 ml single cream 100 ml milk 40 grams plain flour 30 grams ground almonds 70 grams butter 80 grams sugar 3 medium eggs Wash the cherries and, if you have a cherry stoner, remove the stones. Grease an ovenproof dish with butter and place the cherries inside it. Blend the flour, ground almonds, eggs, cream and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth and lump-free. In two separate pans, melt the butter and bring the milk to the boil. Add both to the batter, whisking vigorously as you do so. Pour the batter over the cherries and bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 180 degrees centigrade for 45 minutes. You'll need to monitor the pudding a bit towards the end of its cooking time, as ovens differ greatly and not all of them will cook it at the same rate. When it's done it should be nicely browned on top and set all the way through, though still moist. Clafoutis can be eaten hot, but it is far easier to slice and remove from the pan in one piece once it's been left to cool thoroughly.
Central Europeans are fond of cold fruit soups, and this popular Hungarian version is a fixture on many of the country's menus over the summer. Unusually, the soup is generally served as a first course rather than as a dessert. 500 grams black cherries 420 ml water 120 grams sugar 180 ml sour cream 3 tablespoons flour 1 cinnamon stick 6 cloves Wash and pit the cherries as above, if you have a cherry stoner, then toss them thoroughly in the flour until they are fully coated. Put the water, sugar and spices in a pan and bring to the boil. Add the cherries and lemon slices and boil for 5 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and boil for five minutes longer. Remove the lemon slices and the cinnamon stick (and the cloves too, if you can be bothered) and pour the soup into a bowl to cool. Chill thoroughly before serving.
This way of preparing cherries is so simple it's barely a recipe at all, but is still one of the best things to serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. It doesn't last quite as long as a normal jam, but will keep well enough in the fridge to be used bit by bit over a fortnight. While the dishes above can also work with sweet cherries, this recipe really needs the tartness of morellos to bring out its best characteristics. 500 grams morello cherries 175 grams sugar 1 bay leaf 50 ml orange juice (optional) If you have a stoner, stone the cherries, holding back 5 or 6 pits. Place all the ingredients in a pan, and if you have stoned the cherries, break the reserved pits open with a nutcracker and add them to the fruit. Over a low heat, bring the pan gently to the boil and cook until the liquid thickens (this normally takes about 5 minutes). Remove the bay leaf and pits and leave the mixture to cool. Place in a sealable jar and serve with ice cream, plain yoghurt or rice pudding.