last week, the first cherries appeared at the farmer’s market. the ones i found ranged in color from a bright cranberry to a deep wine color, so i thought they might be a bit tart, but these were all sweet and delicious. normally, i love to eat them raw, so the challenge for me is setting some aside for my LAist recipe [seasonal eats: cherry season is upon us!]. cherry recipes are almost always desserts, so rather than fight it, this time i decided to experiment with adapting a dessert to be low-carb, low-sugar and gluten-free [an unintentional benefit].
i read a few suggestions about roasting cherries, which sounded interesting because the stones are supposed to impart an almond-extract flavor [perhaps this is why maraschino cherries taste like almond extract to me]. i’d also tried out blending cottage cheese smooth with a bit of milk and found it to be a really tasty dessert alternative, so i thought i’d bring the best of 3 worlds together: a coconut almond meal crust, roasted cherry filling, and whipped cottage cheese on top.
recipes suggest to roast cherries about 30 minutes at 325, in anything from just oil to a mix of sauces. i found that mine all boiled away, but if you wanted to reserve the sauce, roasting covered would be a good idea. i decided to live dangerously and wing it, adding canola oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine and vanilla extract. i roasted 42 cherries to cover the bottom of a shallow 8″ pan, but once it was done, i could see more would have been fine. also, a deeper pan would allow for more fruit.
you might think cherries split and wilt with roasting, but very few of them did. they are a lot easier to separate from their stones after a roasting, so work with a knife and fork. if you want to be neat about it, you can cut them in half and scrape away the cherry from the stone and get perfect halves, or do like i did, mash the cherry with the fork, and then use the knife to separate the stone from wherever it is still attached.
for the pie crust, i used equal parts almond meal and shredded coconut, mashing and mixing together with coconut oil and an egg white. i prefer coconut oil because it solidifies around room temperature, so i could hand-form the crust in the pan and then chill until baking time. this crust bakes up quickly, 15 minutes at 325. if you time it right, you can get the cherries going, then stick the crust in the oven, and everything will be ready to assemble at once.
for the whipped cottage cheese, put 2 cups cottage cheese in the blender with 1 tb vanilla extract and 1 tb honey [or more, if you’re so inclined]. blend until smooth, scraping down the sides and mixing with a spoon and a splash of milk if it’s too thick to continue. if you choose to do this ahead of time, chill it so it thickens. if not, pour it over your cherry-filled crust, and chill to set. i found mine was a bit thinner than anticipated, but some time in the fridge will thicken it up.
and there you have it! this cheesecake is not for everyone. some of the more sugar-inclined out there won’t like it much, but i find it to be a fun treat. also, after a few days, some of the cherry juice settles into the crust, which is quite delicious. ultimately, i think using mixed fruits is a great idea for this setup, roasted or raw, throw them in and enjoy!
roasted cherry cottage-cheesecake
1 tb canola oil
1 tb vanilla extract
1 tb balsamic vinegar
1 tb red wine
– tossed in a pan, coated & roasted at 325 for 30 min
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tb coconut oil or butter
1 egg white
– mash together & press into pie tin
– bake 325 15 minutes
2 cups cottage cheese
2 tbs milk, as needed
1 tb vanilla extract
1 tb honey
blend until smooth, chill