I simply can’t conceive why our country’s food gods designated February 20th as National Cherry Pie Day, given that there’s probably not a fresh cherry available anywhere in the northern hemisphere on such an icy winter’s day. I clearly recall the twisted branches of a lone gnarled cherry tree blanketed in February snow on our farm in northern Iowa. Throughout the month of April, those same branches transformed into a spectacular show of fragrant pink blossoms signaling the arrival of spring.
By late July, my siblings and I were clambering and stretching along those time-worn branches to pluck boundless clusters of succulent, crimson fruit. Yet, in actuality, we had a love/hate relationship with that beasty old tree. You see it was PROLIFIC, and guess who had to pit every single cherry it produced! Yep, we Petersen kiddos literally spent an entire week each summer pitting cherries while complaining interminably of the sweltering conditions. You see, summer temperatures in the midwest tend to hover around 90 degrees and are typically accompanied by about 95% humidity. The result? Sweltering.
To those Iowa dog days, add hot steam wafting from large pots filled with cherries and sugar simmering on the stove of our farmhouse kitchen. The result? Sweltering AND sticky. Mom’s annual cherry pie yield was typically around two-dozen, which surely calculates to over 2,000 cherries … sans pits … every year. The result? NOT my favorite week of summer vacation!
Yet when momma pulled one of those pastries out of the freezer and slid it into the oven, that same brood of sweaty complaining child slaves now squealed in jubilation as we elbowed and postured for the first slice of sweet, juicy heaven topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. OMG delicious! Since late April marks the beginning of cherry harvesting in Central California, one can assume the food gods used a bit more discrimination when assigning May 17th as National Cherry Cobbler Day. Who wouldn’t love a dish of warm cobbler with vanilla ice cream for a springtime dessert? Or a Cherry Cobbler Ice Cream Sundae crowned with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup …
Cherry Cobbler Ice Cream Sundaes
For the filling:
- 6 cups tart red cherries, pitted
- 1-1/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
For the cobbler:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 Tbsp. chilled butter cut into small pieces
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 Tbsp. milk
For the sundaes:
- Warm Cherry Cobbler
- Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- Whipped Cream
- Chocolate Syrup
- Fresh sweet cherries for garnish (optional)
- Sliced almonds for garnish (optional)
Preheat your oven to 400F. Prepare the filling: in a saucepan combine the cherries with sugar, water and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat, stirring until bubbling and thickened, about 10 minutes. Pour the filling into an 8” square baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray.
For the cobbler: in a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, sugars, baking powder and cinnamon. Cut in the butter just until the mixture is crumbly. In a small bowl, mix together the egg and milk. Add to flour mixture and stir with a fork until JUST combined. Do NOT overmix here!
Drop the cobbler topping by tablespoonfuls onto the filling. Place the pan on a baking sheet and slide into the heated oven for 25 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Allow the cobbler to cool slightly on a wire rack. One could certainly end here by serving the cobbler in traditional style with a scoop of ice cream. Or not …
To assemble the sundaes: Fill the bottom of 6 individual bowls with warm cherry cobbler. Top each with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream. Drizzle chocolate syrup over the sundaes, garnish each with a sweet cherry or a sprinkle of sliced almonds, and serve immediately.