Fresh Cherry Shortcake with A Cherry-Cabernet Reduction

When it comes to baking, let it be known for the record that I’m a “from scratch” kinda girl.  However…

After our recent trip home, Mom included a “mix” in her farewell basket of goodies.  I was skeptical at first.

Shortcake from a mix?  With a mere two ingredients added?  Hmmm….

Clearly, this had to be pondered for awhile.  (Speaking of which, check out this post for a fun time spent musing.)

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

The “mix” begged to be reckoned with every time I opened the pantry door.  I finally succumbed.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce… Sturdiwheat All Natural Dessert Mix.  Simply add butter and water.  (Or in my case — unsalted butter, a pinch of Kosher salt, and a sprinkling of Turbinado sugar before baking.)

Just for “fun” (and because they were on sale),  I used fresh cherries (instead of the usual strawberries) and made a Cherry-Cabermet Reduction (because I can’t leave well enough alone.)

The end result even inspired the Man of Few Words to utter a whole sentence:  “This stuff is really light.”

Music to my ears.

Fresh Cherry Shortcake with A Cherry-Cabernet Reduction

For the shortcake:

1 (11 oz.) pkg. Sturdiwheat All Natural Shortcake Dessert Mix

1 stick of unsalted butter

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 c. water

2 T. Turbinado sugar (aka “Sugar In The Raw”)

For the filling:

1/2 lb. fresh cherries, halved and pitted

1 pt. heavy cream, whipped with 2 T. sugar and 1 t. vanilla

For the Cherry-Cabernet Reduction:

12 ripe, pitted cherries

1/2 c. water

1/4 c. to 1/2 c. sugar (I used a 1/2 cup)

1/2 c. Cabernet Sauvignon or other good red wine

Preheat oven to 375°.  Begin by preparing shortcake as directed on the package.  (I substituted unsalted butter and Kosher salt for the salted butter.)  Spoon batter onto a greased baking sheet to form 9 “mounds” and sprinkle tops with Turbinado sugar.  Bake at 375° F. for 15 minutes, or until golden.  Remove shortcakes to a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, prepare Cherry-Cabernet Reduction.  Place a dozen pitted cherries in a small saucepan and mash with a fork.  Add water and sugar; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Mash cherries again halfway through cooking time.  Remove from heat.

Pour cherry pulp and juice into a fine mesh strainer over a heatproof measuring cup; press cooked cherries with a fork to extract juice.  (Discard the pulp … or eat it with a spoon … or spread it on hot, buttered toast… just sayin’.)

Return strained cherry juice to the same saucepan.  Add Cabernet; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until sauce is reduced by half.  (It should be thick and syrupy.)  Remove from heat.  While sauce is cooling, prepare the whipped cream.

To assemble the dessert, drizzle warm Cherry-Cabernet Reduction onto dessert plates.  Split the shortcakes in half (horizontally) and fill with a generous dollop of whipped cream and as many cherries as you like.  Nestle the shortcake “top” over that.  Garnish with a small dollop of whipped cream and a whole cherry.  Enjoy!

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When life hands you cherries, make shortcake.

~ Kim

P.S.  Even though I’m proud to be an Okie, this shortcake mix (and many other fine products) are made in my home state of Minnesota.

Music, Inspiration, and Caramel Corn

Gumby here again.  Figured I better write something to keep the ol’ blog going.

(Don’t tell Kim I’ve been jumping on her keyboard.)

I see alot from where I stand — like how thrilled she was to bring home fresh Mozzarella and prosciutto and olives from Lovera’s Italian Grocery.  Made a nice looking antipasto plate for lunch, if I do say so myself.  (Sorry…  the camera’s bigger than I am, so I couldn’t take a picture.)

Lately, she’s been hitting the “other” keyboard (piano), too — something about helping a friend record a CD?  Whatever it is, she looks happy.

Music inspires her more than any other art form.  Except maybe for caramel corn.

(Yikes.  That close-up is bigger than me, too.)

Kim added honey roasted peanuts, so it was like homemade “Crunch & Munch.”  Good stuff.  (For the recipe, click here.)

In between practicing, she’s been watching movies (musicals, mostly) — it’s been too hot to do anything else.  Tell me about it.  How do you think the expression “rubber legs” got coined?”  Whew!  A little green guy could melt in this heat.

Here’s where she likes to relax.  Comfy and cozy.  And green. :)

Oops… movie’s over.  Time to lean on the ol’ paperweight.  Bye.

Filling in for Kim,

~ Gumby

P.S.  Woohoo!

Dessert In A Hurry

Who doesn’t like an easy dessert?  Especially one that requires no oven time whatsoever?

The answer to both questions is No-Bake Cheesecake.  But, I have to warn you — it disappears in a hurry.

Look!  The crumbs are flying off the plate!

Going, going…

(Sorry — no “gone” photo…)  I’m trying to beat the deadline for this give away.

You can, too, if you’re quick about it!

No Bake Cheesecake

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

6 oz. Mascarpone cheese, softened

4 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 can of fruit pie filling (your choice — I happened to have cherries)

1 graham cracker crust

Combine cheeses in a mixing bowl; beat until blended.  Add sugar and vanilla; mix well.  Carefully spoon into graham cracker crust.  Refrigerate 1 hour, or until firm.  Top with fruit before serving and there you have it! 

Enjoying life a slice at a time,

~ Kim

Granita Parfait

Nothing says cool on a hot summer day like a granita parfait.  With icy crystals of canteloupe and watermelon layered in a pretty glass, it’s a delight to behold and as refreshing as it looks.

(Chaise lawn chair and reading material optional.)

Granitas are a perfect way to extend summer’s bounty when you find yourself with more melon than you can consume.  A quick whirl in the food processor and a few hours (or overnight) in the freezer and it’s good to go.  The only utensils required are a fork to scrape the frozen fruit into ice-shaved happiness and a spoon to enjoy the results.

I don’t have an actual recipe (amounts are dependent upon the quantity of fruit you’re using), but here’s a basic “how to”:

Granita Parfait

Cubes of fresh melon (in this case, watermelon and canteloupe)

Sugar to taste, if desired (I didn’t)

Remove seeds and/or rind (if any) from melon cubes.  Pulse small separate batches in a food processor until liquified.  (Note to self:  Liquified fruit really gets to whirlin’ — fairly quickly, I might add!)  Be mindful of your food processor.

Transfer fruit liquid to a shallow glass pan or large plastic bowl; cover and freeze until firm.  When mixture is frozen, “scrape” the top with a fork until it yields an adequate amount of crystals for your serving needs.  (Note to self: Use a large enough bowl so you’ll be able to scrape it without flinging fruit crystals all over your kitchen counter…)

Store the “scraped granita crystals” in the freezer in separate (covered) containers until serving time.  Spoon into champagne flutes (layered as desired) and serve immediately.  And I do mean immediately…

Not only is this a refreshing treat, it’s a means to enjoy every last ounce of summer!

(Note:  When this post originally “aired,” I submitted it to a link-up that challenged folks to invent a summer dessert with 6 ingredients or less.  Here ’tis… Family Fresh Cooking.)

In the meantime, I’ve got to get back to my granita.

Aaahh… 

Enjoying life one frozen delight at a time,

~ Kim

Chocolate Waffle Love

With temperatures hovering near a hundred for the past week, the prospect of heating up the kitchen again was the last thing on my mind.  (Allow me to clarify:  other than brief stints to bake biscuits or some such Southern necessity.)  Most sultry days, our meals consist of grilled meats, salads or veggies, and fresh fruit for dessert.  But, oh how I miss dessert... which, for me, is defined as pie.  Or cake.  Or brownies.  Or cookies.  Or…

Then, I spied an online baking challenge.

Maybe it was my dessert deprived mind or maybe it was the fact that I love chocolate in any way, shape or form… I had to see what was involved.  Unfortunately, the deadline for entering had passed (story of my life…), so I fired off an e-mail expressing my delight at such a fun invite and let it go at that.  To my surprise, I received a reply saying the post wasn’t being published until Monday and I was welcome to submit a photo before then.  Game on!

After looking through a multitude of mouth-watering recipes, I picked Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake. (Technically, it was a “no bake” recipe, but at that point, anything chocolate sounded good, in or out of the oven.)  Then I proceeded with gusto.

Maybe a little too much gusto.  (Never y’all mind that whipped cream gooshing out, ya hear?)

The major challenge was finding frozen chocolate waffles in our small town.  What to do in a bind?  Alton Brown to the rescue!  Using his recipe, it took no time (and no oven) to create this spectacular little shortcake.  (Plus the leftovers were mighty tasty for breakfast…)

Next time you’re feeling up to a challenge, check out The Chocolate Bottle.  It’s a fun way to pass the time and take your mind off the heat!

Enjoying life one lovely chocolate waffle at a time,

~Kim