Ingredient | Cherries

Birds covet cherries like no other fruit and now we know why – these shrub fruits pack healthy benefits.

The dark-red sour varieties contribute to general well-being, reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, and control the body’s day-night rhythm.

Despite being more acidic than the sweet cherry, the sour cherry captured the imaginations of the southern Germans and the northern Swiss a long time ago.

Cultivated in monasteries since the ancient Romans brought them into northern Europe, the proliferation of sour cherry varieties in small orchards increased until they could no longer meet demand.

Production moved to the Balkans, where the climate is kinder and conducive to shrubs that will bear fruit for 30 years.

The Schattenmorelle is the most popular variety in Germany, used to make Kirsch and preferred to the Morell and Köröser varieties in kirschtorte – the famous sour cherry-dark chocolate cake.
Cake is okay, jam/jelly is good, fresh is better, but juice is best.



There are as many stories about the origins of this kirsch-flavoured cake as there are variations of the recipe.

Josef Keller, pastry chef in Café Ahrend in Bad Godesberg, is credited with inventing the Black Forest (Schwarzwälder) version in 1915. He passed his recipe to August Schaefer. His son Claus still makes the original cake at Café Schaefer in Triberg.

Kirsch, the clear cherry brandy made from the dark red sour berries of the Black Forest in south-west Germany), identifies kirschtorte with the region but there are occasional doubts about the cake’s geographical authenticity.

The claim that the cake represents the women’s costume of the region (black like the dress, cream like the blouse and cherries like the red balls of adornment) is seen as a tourist entrapment.

These days it does not matter where kirschtorte originated. This delicious cherry-chocolate cake is made throughout the continent.


200 g butter, softened 
4 eggs
200 g sugar
170 g self-raising flour 
30 g cocoa powder
8 g baking powder

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Whisk eggs and sugar until foamy.

Sieve flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into a large bowl.

Fold into egg-sugar mixture.

Pour into mould.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Divide cake into two equal pieces.


800 ml cream
400 g sour cherries
250 ml sour cherry juice 
100 ml Kirsch
50 g chocolate flakes 
50 g vanilla sugar

Whip cream with sugar.

Boil cherry juice until syrupy, leave to cool, stir in three-quarters of the cherries and a splash of Kirsch.

Spread on first base.

Follow with a layer of piped cream and another splash of Kirsch.

Place second base on top.

Pipe on the remaining cream.

Decorate with chocolate flakes and remaining cherries.


Soufflé au Kirsch


500 ml milk
8 egg whites
6 egg yolks
100 g flour
100 ml kirsch
90 g butter
90 g sugar
1 vanilla pod, split
Butter, for greasing
Sugar, for sprinkling
Icing sugar, for dusting

Make a roux, allow to cool.

Boil milk with sugar and vanilla pod.

Discard pod.

Whisk milk mixture into roux to make a smooth paste.

Incorporate egg yolks. Leave to cool.

Add kirsch.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Beat whites until stiff, add to paste.

Grease with butter a baking tray, sprinkle with sugar.

Fold soufflé mixture onto tray.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar.


Zuppa di Ciliegie

This alcoholic dessert of San Marino, the principality in north-eastern Italy, is one of the great traditional dishes of Europe – stunningly simple and dangerously delicious.


400 g cherries, pitted
175 ml red wine
50 g sugar
30 g butter
15 g cornflour
15 ml kirsch
cinnamon, pinch

Melt butter in a saucepan, add cherries and sugar. Stir constantly over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, about five minutes.

In a seperate saucepan, heat the wine with cinnamon. When the aroma of the spice is evident, stir the cherry mixture into the wine. Cook over a low heat until the cherries have softened.

With a slotted spoon, remove cherries to a warmed bowl.

Blend cornflour with the kirsch, add to the cherry-wine liquid, stirring to thicken over a medium heat, about three minutes.

Pour sauce on the cherries.

Serve with ice cream.


Crostata di Viscioli di Sezze

Artisan bakers make these sour cherry tarts for sale in the markets of Lazio.


Marmellata di Viscioli


1 kg viscioli/sour red cherries
300 g sugar

In a large pot cook cherries for 15 minutes.

Pour in sugar, allow to dissolve. Cook, stirring occasionally, for two hours.

While still hot, pour into sterilised jars. Seal.


Crostata di Visciole


500 g flour 
250 g sugar
200 g lard
5 egg yolks
1 egg, beaten
1 lemon grated
Sour cherry marmalade
Butter, for greasing

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Place flour on a pastry board. Break egg yolks, lemon, lard and sugar into the middle of the flour and work gently to make a soft dough.

Discard surplus flour. Rest dough for 30 minutes.

Grease ramekins with butter, shape with dough and fill with sour cherry jam. Cover each with strips of dough. Brush the tops with beaten egg.

Bake for 25 minutes.




500 g puff pastry, rolled 2 cm thick, 
cut into 20 cm x 10 cm pieces
100 g dried pears, soaked overnight in kirsch, 
100 g dried apples, soaked overnight in kirsch, 
50 g sultanas, soaked overnight in kirsch
50 g walnuts, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
Cloves, ground, pinch
45 g sugar
20 ml lemon
1 egg yolk
Water, for brushing

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Mix fruit, spices and sugar.

Spread in centre of dough pieces, fold over and seal. Brush seal with water. Repeat.

Place each weggen on a greased baking tray.

Coat each weggen with egg yolk, prick with a fork.

Bake for 30 minutes.



Thought of today as a substitute for mustard. But really this red cherry and red wine paste stands on its own.


500 ml red wine
500 ml water
250 g red cherries, pitted, boiled, mashed
125 g flour
125 g sugar
20 g assorted ground spices  
cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mustard (optional)


Brown flour in heavy-bottomed frying pan.

Dissolve sugar in water, allow to cool. Add to flour and bring back to the boil.
Add wine and bring heat up again.

Add spices and cherry mash, cook for 15 minutes.

Spoon into sterilised jars. Seal.