Well, yesterday I put the question out there on the Facebook page … Cherry Ripe or Banana Split? The general idea was to do a simple reworking of these. Thank you to everyone who responded! Cherry Ripe was the undisputed favourite among those of you who did, but let’s face it, I intended to tackle both all along anyway.
It was never really a question of either or? … merely a question of which one first?
And I’m kinda glad that Cherry Ripe came out in first place because the ideas bubbling in my head for the Banana Split are shaping up to be rather more complex than this dessert. But it’s on the short list
I was hesitant about posting this now as it’s still technically winter and we won’t see fresh cherries in season here for some months yet. Well, really, the main reason is that some fresh cherries and sunshine would just make the photography part of this post so much more fun and enjoyable. And pretty. Frozen cherries are delish but hardly red carpet ready with a cherry red smile. But why wait? By the time December rolls around I will probably make something completely different so … without further ado …
I wanted to keep it simple and true to the spirit and flavours of a Cherry Ripe – sweet cherries, coconut, and rich dark chocolate.
Idea #1: Cherry and coconut ice-cream encased in a chocolate coating to look like a Cherry Ripe. I even got out the mold and lining in readiness. Too obvious. Reject.
Idea #2: Chocolate cake layers with cherry and coconut filling and frosting. Boring. Reject.
Idea #3: I like the ice-cream idea … cherry and coconut ice-cream sandwiched between two layers of dark chocolate. Individual serves. Simple. Texturally about right. This will do.
Sure, I wasn’t exactly trying too hard, but I only got the idea to do something yesterday so there wasn’t much time for complicated kitchen adventures, was there?
I always rant on about not liking candy bars and I really don’t. I never buy them. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the flavour and texture concepts behind some of them. Cherry Ripe is one of my all time favourites. It’s just so seductive. Judging by the ads for Cherry Ripe that have aired in the last couple of years, with strangers longingly perving at each other, I think the Cherry Ripe marketing team has pretty much figured that out too.
This is a nice dessert in summer when you have fresh sweet cherries. It also works very well using frozen cherries, when fresh cherries are not in season. I prefer to use luscious dark sweet cherries for this, both for the intensity of colour and flavour. I’d also recommend using flaked coconut if possible. If you cannot get the unsweetened variety, desiccated coconut is still great, just not as moist and chewy in texture.
I used Valrhona Guanaja for the chocolate layers. I give two quantities for the chocolate in the recipe. For the result in the photos, I used the higher amount of chocolate. Mostly because that’s my favourite part of the dessert, of course. If you prefer thin chocolate layers, use the smaller quantity of chocolate. This will make it easier to break into it with a fork. It’s not really possible with a thicker layer … but oh my, there’s more chocolate
The ice-cream is full on cherry and coconut and does not set hard so you get the creamy, fruity, chewiness of the filling, and the chocolate layers add a snap and slightly intense bitter contrast. Like Cherry Ripe.
Whoooaaaa … it really does taste kinda seductive. One might say it’s downright sexy. The guinea pigs (aka my family) love it.
Served as individual desserts, they’re also quite visually appealing and elegant, don’t you think?
110 grams sugar
30 millilitres water
3 egg yolks
300 grams pitted cherries, fresh or frozen
350 millilitres double cream, chilled
50 millilitres kirsch or cherry brandy
90 grams flaked or dessicated coconut, unsweetened
220 – 300 grams good quality dark couverture (70% cacao), divided in half
Flaked or dessicated coconut, extra
Raw cacao nibs, extra
Fresh cherries, extra
I have used standard-size silicon friand (financier) molds to make the individual desserts in the photographs. You can use other shaped molds. If you don’t have silicon molds, you can use some metal baking rings, but make sure to line these with cling film, acetate strips, or silicon baking paper to make removal of the rings easier before serving.
Chop or grate half the couverture (i.e. 110 or 150 grams) and place into a glass bowl. To temper the couverture, a simple method is to place it in the microwave for 30 second bursts until about two-thirds to three-quarters of the chocolate is melted. Stir the chocolate in between microwave bursts. Finally, stir the chocolate until it is all melted. A glass bowl is good for this as it helps to keep the chocolate at temper. Ideally this is around 32-33℃.
Divide the melted chocolate between the molds. If using the greater amount of chocolate, I have found this is about a tablespoon of chocolate per mold. Tap the molds gently on a bench to remove any air bubbles and make sure the chocolate coats the base of the molds evenly. Let cool for a few minutes and set in the refrigerator while you make the ice-cream.
Place the sugar and water into a saucepan over a low heat to melt the sugar. Raise the heat slightly and cook the syrup until it reaches 118℃. While the syrup is cooking, place the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until lightened. Continue whisking as you pour the syrup into the egg yolks in a thin, steady stream. Whisk until the egg yolk mixture is light and doubled and has cooled to lukewarm. Set aside.
Chop and partly mash the cherries. You want to get some of the juices out but you also want some cherry pieces in there. Just like a Cherry Ripe. I’ve found that using my Bamix hand-held mixer makes this easier as I have full control. If using frozen cherries, don’t defrost them, as you want to re-freeze the ice-cream. I simply removed the cherries from the freezer and pour some cold water over them in a colander to remove any ice-crystals. Prepare them as for the fresh cherries.
In a large bowl, whisk the double cream with the Kirsch or cherry brandy. Fold in the coconut and cherries, followed by the egg yolk mixture.
Prepare the remaining couverture as per the instructions above.
Fill the molds with the cherry coconut ice-cream to about three-quarters full or so. You need to leave some room at the top for the chocolate layer. Make sure the top of the ice-cream layer is even. I gently tap the molds on the bench, taking care so that the base layer does not crack.
Spoon the tempered couverture over the ice-cream layer and tap the molds gently to make sure it forms an even layer on top. Cover loosely and place in the freezer to set.
Before serving, run a knife gently around the edges of each mold and carefully unmold each dessert. With the friand molds, I generally push up evenly from the base of the mold. Invert on to serving plates.
If you like, sprinkle the top with a little extra coconut and some raw cacao nibs. If you make this with fresh cherries in summer, serve with extra cherries, either as a decoration or make a cherry sauce or coulis. That’s what I’d do *except it’s winter now*.