The temperatures have dropped here in the last few days which is extremely bizarre for us this time of year. Humid is a given, hot is pretty much the norm, hotter is, well, summer. I always take the dogs out barefeet in the morning. I love to feel the dew tickling my feet and waking me up. The other morning was no exception only for the fact that my ritual was paired with a sounding "Oh la vache c’est froid" ("Holy cow, it’s cold"). Hurried my little flock back inside, made hot tea and sat with Bill with a few Coconut Cherry Petits Gateaux while he was reading the morning paper.
Obviously, I have forgotten what cold really is having been in the South so long but I actually look forward to a good wind and a cold front. I take it all in, making "cold memories" to dip into when August rolls around and I wilt going from the house to the car. Times like this usually give me an urge to make cakes and tea cakes. When I see cherries I am immediately thrown back to our house in Provence where we had two giant cherry trees giving us what seemed like a house full of fruit each year. Maybe it looked that dramatic because I was 4 and everything seems disproportioned at that age.
Yes, I know, cherry season won’t be in full force until June here but a patron asked me to come up with an anniversary dessert containing cherries. I sampled a few at the store and while they were ok, it was not something I would have spent my money on this early in May, but it was a job not a choice. I dropped by her house so she could taste them and she turned to me and said "yeah you are right, why don’t you keep them then. I am sure you’ll know how to doctor them up". Geez, thanks! I think I did allright though.
I love the fact that B indulges me in making him repeat in French all the ingredients I am using. He appeals to his inner teenager and I just about crack a rib everytime we do this. "Pour le petits gateaux" (for the tea cakes)"commence par le sucre" (start with sugar), "ajoute les oeufs" (add the eggs). It quickly became a mix of English and French: "add the lait de coco" (add the coconut milk), "now les cerises" (now the cherries). He stopped abruptly and exclaimed "you know, even in French I understand you are trying to make me eat two things I dont' care for, coconut and cherries even though it sounds way better this way!".
Ha! I did not trick him though, he likes coconut milk and he likes cooked cherries. I can’t never get him to eat them fresh from the bowl while I can go through a pound of them without fliching. Well, when these came out of the oven, he grabbed a couple and a glass of milk and went back up to his study. I only found the wrappers and a happy man later on.
Since I wanted to boost their flavor a bit, I used coconut milk instead of cow’s milk in the batter, added a drop of coconut extract and sprinkled them with chopped raw pumpkin seeds to change from pistachios.
Coconut Cherry Petits Gateaux:
Makes 8 to 10
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
1/2 (125ml) coconut milk
2 tablespoons (30gr) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1 3/4 cups (220gr)all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
3 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the center. Lightly spray or butter muffin tins or cupcake molds. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with hand held beaters) whisk together the sugar and the eggs on medium speed for 5 minutes. With the machine running on low speed, add the coconut milk, melted butter and coconut extract. Beat for a minute to incorporate all the ingredients thoroughly. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until smooth. Stop the machine and fold in the cherries with a spatula. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin tins and sprinkle with the chopped pumpkin seeds. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clear.