As summer puts every movement into slow motion, the season’s bounty offers an easy opt-in to involved entertaining. “This is not the time for making complicated food,” The Sunday Telegraph columnist Diana Henry says in her newest cookbook, How to Eat a Peach. Plucked at their peak, fresh cherries offer unrivaled flavor, and here, they’re simmered in wine and served over whipped cardamom cream, with pistachio shortbread for dipping.
For the cherries:
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2¼ cups Valpolicella, Pinot Noir or other cherry-ish red wine
2 broad strips of unwaxed lemon zest
2 lbs. sweet or sour cherries (pitted or unpitted)
3 Tbsp. kirsch (optional)
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
For the shortbread:
1⅔ sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
⅔ cup powdered sugar, plus more for serving
Pinch of sea salt flakes
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
⅔ cup cornstarch
1 tsp. rose water
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
½ cup shelled, unsalted
Candied rose petals (optional)
For the cream:
Seeds from 4 green cardamom pods
1¼ cups heavy cream
Powdered sugar (optional)
To make the cherries, combine the sugar, wine, strips of lemon zest and a scant cup of water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to help the sugar dissolve, then continue to boil for 8 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the cherries, letting the mixture simmer for 4 minutes. Lift the cherries out of the saucepan with a slotted spoon and place them on a rimmed baking pan; they will stop cooking if they’re not touching one another.
Let the syrup cool, then taste and add a slug of kirsch if you want to, or a good squeeze of lemon juice to cut the sugar a bit, depending on the sweetness of the cherries. Put the cooled cherries in a bowl and pour the red wine syrup over them.
To make the cookies, use a mixer to beat together the butter and powdered sugar until creamy, then add the salt and lemon zest and beat again. With the mixer set on low, add the flour, cornstarch and rose water, mixing until combined. Remove the dough from the mixer, and on a lightly floured surface shape it into a log about 2½ inches in diameter. Brush the outside of the dough with beaten egg, then roll it in the pistachios. Carefully wrap the log in foil and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Cut the log into disks about ⅛-inch thick and arrange them 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes—they will turn a little golden around the edges—then let cool for 10 minutes. Carefully lift the baked cookies onto a wire rack with a metal spatula. Before serving, sift a little powdered sugar over the top and scatter with candied rose petals.
Grind the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice mill. Pour the cream into a bowl and add the cardamom, then whip the cream to soft peaks, adding powdered sugar to taste.
Serve the cherries over the cardamom cream alongside the shortbread.
Reprinted from How to Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories, and Places. Copyright 2018, by Diana Henry. Published by Mitchell Beazley.
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