Kill two birds with one cherry stone

Cherries are in season right now which brings joy to my heart.  I love dark red Bing cherries straight up. I love soft, pink springtime cherry blossoms in Japan (sakura). I love the song Cherry Oh Baby originally sung by Eric Donaldson and later re-recorded by a particular favorite of mine - UB40.  I love the cherries jubilee I made for Valentine’s Day.  I love black cherry ice cream.  And, I especially love cherry cobbler but don’t make it for two reasons – I hate to pit cherries and I don’t think they get done enough by the time the cobbler topping is baked.

As I contemplated the pound of cherries in the sink in front of me, I had a sudden and wonderful plan. What if I precooked the cherries on the stove top and THEN popped out the pits? It seemed reasonable enough to me, so I washed and de-stemmed the cherries and put them in a pan with 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. I let them simmer on low for 40-45 minutes until the cherries were completely soft then removed the pan from the burner. Once they were cool enough to handle, I plucked the cherries out of the dark red juice, easily extracted the stones one by one and returned them to the pan. To thicken the juice I added 1T cornstarch mixed with 2T water to the cherries and stirred over a med-high burner until bubbly and poured the perfectly cooked, pitless, nicely thickened fruity mass into a 1.5qt oval baking dish I’d sprayed with nonstick spray.

To prepare the topping, I put two cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 t baking powder into my food processor and gave them a couple quick pulses then added 6T cold, cubed butter and pulsed until the mixture resembled course cornmeal. In a separate bowl, I whisked together two eggs, 6T milk and 1t vanilla then added it to the food processor. A few quick pulses to just combine the wet and the dry, and I was ready for assembly. As I previously wrote in Cobbler, Crisp, Crunch, Crumble, a cobbler resembles a cobblestone street, so I dropped spoons of topping onto the fruit as such. I put the cobbler into a 400 degree oven (on a cookie sheet to catch any drips) for 20 minutes until the topping was a nice golden brown.

Now, all I have to do is wait for it to cool a bit and make the important decision – vanilla ice cream or not?

(Speaking of cobbler, I made Mark Bittman's savory tomato cobbler the other night for dinner and it was absolutely fabulous!

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