For A More Satisfying Cherry Dessert Topping, Roast Them

From May to July, you can relish being able to buy fresh cherries from the farmers market to turn them into delicious desserts like almond spiced cherry cobbler and chocolate bourbon cherry cookies. But when you just want to make a yummy cherry dessert topping, you can afford to take an extra step to make the flavor that much deeper. So before you spoon your cherries over a dessert, try roasting them.

It's easy and fairly hands-off to do. All you need to do is mix fresh (or frozen) cherries with sugar and a little cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) in a baking dish. You can omit the cornstarch if you'd like, but including it will make for a thicker syrup. Add a little lemon juice for a more tangy flavor, a few basil leaves for herby notes, or a dash of dessert liqueur to give it a boozy touch. 

Then bake for about 45 minutes, stirring a few times throughout, until everything is juicy and bubbly. If your cherries are pitted, you can stop there, but if you still need to remove the pits, it should be much easier to do so by squeezing lightly once the fruits are nice and soft. It's worth noting that while pitted cherries are undoubtedly easier to handle, roasting them with the pits still in will intensify the flavor even more.

Roasted cherries are versatile and intensely flavorful

By roasting your cherries, you'll get a more robust cherry flavor with notes of almond that complement a variety of dishes. If your fruits are sweet, you'll get a more potent sugary flavor; and if you use tart cherries, you'll get stronger sour tastes. And when they emerge from the oven, they'll be plump, bubbly, and swimming in a thick syrup of their own juices. What's not to love?

This cherry dessert topping is perfect over scoops of vanilla ice cream, of course, as well as a bowl of Greek yogurt, ricotta, or mascarpone cheese. But feel free to spoon it over a bowl of chocolate ice cream for a makeshift black forest cake flavor with a little whipped cream on top or with cherry ice cream and fudge flakes for an imitation of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia. And the delicious options don't end there — you can also use roasted cherries over pancakes, waffles, cheesecake, pound cake, and coffee cake. For a dreamy dessert, drizzle it over a slice of chocolate silk pie, a vanilla milkshake, or any treat that could use a boost of strong cherry goodness.