More Desserts and Appetizers

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We suggest using Michigan Balaton Cherries in these recipes for better flavor and freshness!

Cherry Almond Clusters
A sweet treat for any holiday gathering.

1 (8-ounce) package semisweet baking chocolate
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup dried tart cherries
Put chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High (100%) power 2 minutes, stirring halfway through the theating time. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add almonds and dried cherries; mix until completely coated with chocolate. Drop by teaspoons onto waxed apper. Refrigerate until is firm.

To toast almonds: Spread almonds on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Makes 2 dozen.

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Cherry Peanut Pizzaz
This is an easy-to-prepare snack, perfect for holiday parties or gift giving.

2 cup lightly salted peanuts
1 cup dried tart cherries
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne pepper), or to taste
Vegetable oil
Combine peanuts and cherries in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, seasoned salt, cumin and red pepper; mix well. Pour over peanut mixture; stir to coat.

Heat 1 or 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add peanut mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes, or until peanuts are light brown. Do not allow mixture to burn. Add more oil, if needed. Remove from heat. Spread on waxed paper or aluminum foil to cool. Store in a tightly covered container.

Makes 3 cups.

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Brie Torte
Well wrapped, this appetizer will keep in the refrigerator for at least two weeks.

1 (8-ounce) wedge Brie cheese
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup chopped dried tart cherries
3 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Refrigerate Brie until chilled and firm; or freeze 30 minutes, or until firm. Cut wedge in half horizontally.

Combine butter, cherries, pecans and thyme in a small bowl; mix well. Evenly spread mixture on cut-side of one of the Brie wedges. Top with other half, cut-side down. Lightly press together. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. To serve, bring cheese to room temperature. Serve with crackers.

Makes 10 appetizer servings.

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Cherry Tiramisu
Smooth and easy describe this layered cherry dessert that is a variation of an Italian classic.

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup coffee liqueur
30 (2-inch) shortbread cookies (such as Lorna Doones)
1 can (21 ounces) cherry filling
and topping
Grated chocolate, for garnish (optional)
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

Put ricotta cheese, confectioners' sugar, sour cream and coffee liqueur in a large mixing bowl; stir to mix well. Set aside.

Put cookies, a few at a time, in an electric blender or food processor container. Process until finely crushed. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of cookie crumbs.

Remove 6 cherries from cherry filling; reserve for garnish.

To assemble dessert, spoon 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese mixture into each of six (8-ounce) parfait glasses. Add 2 tablespoons cookie crumbs to each glass; top each with 2 tablespoons cherry filling. Repeat ricotta, crumb and cherry layers. Finish each serving with an equal portion of the remaining ricotta cheese mixture.

Garnish with reserved cherries, grated chocolate and mint leaves, if desired. Let chill 2 to 3 hours before serving.
Makes 6 servings.

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Power Bars
A great pick-me-up any time of day, these bar cookies freeze well. They would be ideal for a Valentine's Day party at school.
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 can (21 ounces) cherry filling and topping
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Put butter and brown sugar in a large mixing well. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed 3 to 4 minutes or until well mixed. Combine flour, oats and baking soda. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; mix on low speed until crumbly.

Spread two-thirds of the oat mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Press down to make a firm layer.

Puree cherry filling with an electric blender or food processor until smooth. Pour pureed cherry filling into a medium saucepan. Combine granulated sugar and cornstarch; stir into cherry filling. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until mixture is thick and bubbly. Stir in almond extract. Pour cherry mixture over oat layer; spread evenly. Top with remaining oat mixture.

Bake in a preheated 350 oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool before cutting into bars.

Makes 32 bars.

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Cherry Chewbilees
Beyond ordinary, try these cookies made with extraordinary dried cherries!

1 cup margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 package (10 ounces) vanilla-flavored morsels or 1 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate
1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries
1 cup coarsely chopped cashews

Put margarine, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed 3 to 4 minutes, or until well mixed. Combine flour and baking soda. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture; mix well. Stir in vanilla-flavored morsels, dried cherries and cashews. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 10 to 12 minutes, or until light golden brown. Do not overbake. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Store in a tightly covered container. These cookies freeze well.

Makes 4 to 5 dozen.

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Cherry Delicious Couscous Salad
The perfect accompaniment for meat or poultry.

1 cup water or chicken broth
3/4 cup quick-cooking couscous, uncooked
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped unpeeled cucumber
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds (optional)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
Salt="" and pepper, to taste
Bring water or broth to a boil in a medium saucepan; stir in couscous. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Uncover; let cool 10 minutes.

Combine cooked couscous, dried cherries, carrots, cucumber, green onions and pine nuts in a large bowl. Combine vinegar, olive oil and mustard; mix well. Pour vinegar mixture over couscous mixture; mix well. Season with salt="" and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes 4 cups; about 6 servings. Click here to view couscous photo.

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Cherry Salsa
Served with grilled poultry, roast pork or tortilla chips, this spicy mixture wows traditional salsa lovers.

1 1/3 cups frozen unsweetened tart cherries
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried tart cherrie
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or canned
jalapeno peppers, or to taste
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or 1/2 teaspoon
dried cilantro
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Coarsely chop frozen tart cherries. Let cherries thaw and drain, reserving 1 tablespoon cherry juice. When cherries are thawed, put drained cherries, dried cherries, onion, jalapenos, garlic and cilantro in a medium saucepan; mix well. In a small container, combine reserved cherry juice and cornstarch; mix until smooth, then stir into cherry mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until mixture is thickened. Let cool. Serve with tortilla chips and/or cooked chicken or pork.

Makes about 1 cup. Click here to view salsa photo.

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Sensational Stuffed Mushrooms
Hot out of the oven, mushroom caps are an elegant appetizer.

30 large mushrooms (about 1 pound)
1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
1 cup chopped dried tart cherries
2 green onions, sliced
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
Pull stems from mushrooms and discard (or save for another use). Rinse mushroom caps; drain well. Set aside.

Cook sausage in a large skillet 5 minutes, or until sausage is done. Stir occasionally to break up meat. Remove from heat. Add dried cherries, green onions and cream cheese; mix well. Fill each mushroom cap with a heaping teaspoon of sausage mixture. Place filled mushrooms on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven 6 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Makes 30.

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Carrots with Character
Plain carrots become an elegant side dish with cherries, nutmeg and ginger.

1 pound fresh carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen unsweetened tart cherries
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Put carrots in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Cook, covered, 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain well. Put drained carrots back in the medium saucepan. Add cherries, maple syrup, butter, nutmeg and ginger; stir to coat carrots with all ingredients. (It is not necessary to thaw cherries before combining with carrots.) Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat, until mixture is hot and bubbly.

Yield: 6 (1/2 cup) portions.

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Cherry Delight
Colorful addition to potluck suppers.

1 can (21 ounces) cherry filling and topping
1 container (16 ounces) cottage cheese (regular or low-fat)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, or to taste
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
Fresh mint leaves
Combine cherry filling, cottage cheese, almonds and almond extract in a medium mixing bowl; mix well. Fold in whipped topping. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. Garnish with mint leaves, if desired. Serve as a salad, dessert or snack.

Makes 6 servings.

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