Friday, May 15, 2009

Dark Cherry Muffins

Years ago, when I used to live in Kansas, I had a house with a cherry tree. It had been left untended for who knows how many years when I moved in, yet was still producing an abundance of wonderful, fresh tart pie cherries. My freezer was packed full of tiny bags of cherries portioned out to easily grab out and thaw to use in this recipe.

But alas, after a short time, I moved again and have not had the luxury of having my own private cherry tree in my back yard since then. If you can find real, tart baking cherries, they are amazing in these muffins. However, most grocery stores seem to only sell sweet cherries or baking cherries that have already been soaked in a sweet sticky syrup. I tried using dark sweet frozen cherries this time and they turned out really quite good anyway, if an odd hue of purplish blue.

Here is the recipe:

Dark Cherry Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

2 1/2 cups frozen unsweetened cherries (590 ml)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (112.5 grams), at room temperature
1 cup sugar (225 grams)
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour (or 220 grams British Plain flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk or single cream (120 ml)
demerara sugar, to sprinkle on tops, optional

Cut cherries into halves while still frozen, then thaw completely, draining well. Portion out 1/2 cup of the cherries and mash them; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the extracts and the eggs until smooth.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Using a spoon, stir half of the flour mixture into the creamy mixture, then add half of the milk, stirring just to combine; repeat with the reamaining flour and milk, being very careful not to overmix. Fold in the cherries.

Spoon into a 12 hole muffin tin pan that has been lined with paper liners. You can of course grease them instead and hope they don't stick but having tried this myself, you are far better off with the pretty paper liners. If you wish, sprinkle each with a tiny bit of demerara sugar.

Bake in a preheated 375 F (190 C) oven for 20-30 minutes or until puffed, golden, and no longer goopy when you stick a toothpick into the centers.

Allow to cool no matter how much they cry and beg you to eat them NOW. Molten hot cherries are painful.

NOTE: This recipe is a prime example of why weighing ingredients can be quite helpful, and in some cases, downright essential, especially when baking. Sugar weighs more than flour, hence the head scratchingly disparate numbers in grams for what at first glance would appear to be some strange measurements.

I originally posted this same recipe here in case you would like a printer friendly version.


  1. Those look and sound amazing Heather. I wonder if you used dried sour cherries, soaked and plumped. Would they work do you think?

    I love measuring by weight. I think it's ever so much more accurate.

  2. I think you could try them, although you might need to perhaps cook them in a bit of juice to soften them enough to mash (for the portion that gets mashed into the batter). The texture might also be a bit different - one of the pleasures of these muffins for me is biting into a fat juicy cherry half. I think they would still taste very good though. You could also use blackberries, since they are both tart enough and mash up nicely without the bother of freezing them first.

  3. I haven't seen frozen cherries locally. Is it common in the stores where you live?

    I try to keep, in the freezer, a package of frozen blueberries, peaches, strawberries and rhubarb. Then, if they are not on the stands, I can still make some goodies out of season.

    I would love to have frozen cherries. I will look more closely and try a new store.

  4. It really depends a lot on where you live - in London, frozen cherries were in most of the big grocery stores. In the US, some locations carried them and others did not, depending on which state I was living in. You can also use unsweetened canned pie cherries, the type stored in juice, not the type already coated in a thick glaze. Just be sure to drain off the liquid.