I know of few greater food combinations than almonds and cherries. They love to grow side by side, and what’s amazing is that in France they ripen at the very same moment, late May to early June. Of course the almonds are still raw then and need more time on the tree, but since I go by the rule that “what grows together goes together,” I always add a touch of almond to any cherry dish. This gratin is simple, not too rich, and a true crowd pleaser. If you frequently cook with cherries, it is a good idea to invest in a small gadget, a cherry pitter, which makes the job a lot easier.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date
Equipmentbaking/gratin dish, electric mixer
Taste and Texturefruity, nutty, sweet
Type of Dishdessert
- 2 pounds fresh cherries, rinsed, stemmed, and pitted
- 1 tablespoon kirsch (cherry eau-de-vie)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup finely ground almonds
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Several drops of kirsch (cherry eau-de-vie, optional)
- Several drops of almond extract
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting the gratin
- A 10½-inch round porcelain baking dish
- Heavy-duty mixer
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter the baking dish. Set it aside.
In a large, heavy skillet, combine the cherries, kirsch, and sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Transfer the cherries to the prepared baking dish and set aside.
Prepare the almond cream: In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk, combine the almonds and butter. Whisk, blending until smooth. Add the eggs, cream, and confectioners’ sugar and whisk until thick, smooth, and well-blended. Add the kirsch, if using, and the almond extract, mixing to blend. Pour the cream over the cherries in the baking dish.
Place the baking dish in the center of the oven and bake until the gratin is firm and a deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Dust the gratin lightly with confectioners’ sugar and serve in wedges, warm or at room temperature. This dessert is best served just a few hours after it is prepared.
2001 Patricia Wells