Snap, Crackle, “Pop”-love Rice Krispies!
“Pop” music-okay I will admit this genre is one of my faves.
K-”Pop”-my ai daughter and I are mesmerized by the videos although we can only guess what they are singing about.
“Pop”corn-more butter please.
Cake/Pie “Pop”-BOOOO, love but hate them more, sometimes . . . more on my love-hate relationship with cake/pie pops later.
So ”got cherries”–we sure did! My family and I went cherry picking this past weekend. It was “loads” of fun, literally. After fanatically picking cherries we managed to pick a whopping 35 pounds worth of cherries!
And although I am reluctant to reveal the location of our newfound annual adventure, nothing this good should be kept a secret. And in any case secret recipes, ingredients, etc. goes against the main reason why I blog and that is sharing.
So where is this oasis where the trees lure you to pick their sweet succulent cherries–Pease Ranch in Brentwood, CA. One of my main criteria for a family trip is that it has to be kid-friendly. Pease Ranch definitely is family and kid-friendly. The trees were the perfect size for kids to pick from the lower branches. My husband did most of the hard work by climbing a ladder and getting the larger sweeter ones at the top of the tree. My Mom was the faster picker with all those years of experience with harvesting another type of “cherry”, coffee! It is ironic that we went cherry picking since my Mom commented on how it reminded her of coffee picking! I come from a family in Kona that coffee harvesting was their livelihood. And although coffee harvesting with the later generations may have lost its appeal because of the inadequate income or the back-breaking work involved, for me it is a distant memory and a way of life that is slowly being lost.
The other huge plus to the Pease Ranch is that they have picnic tables! So after all that cherry picking we worked up quite an appetite and sat down to a nice picnic lunch near the cherry trees. This reminded me of how my family would break for lunch and have our “coffeeland lunch” right in the coffee fields! So although I long for a bit of the past, I know I can only try to make my own memories and traditions with my own family.
We started early in the cherry season so the only type of cherries ready to be picked were the corral champagne. According to the email I got from the ranch here is a description:
The Coral Champagne Cherry Tree is another relatively new and outstanding sweet cherry for a milder Winter. It produces a super sweet fruit that some say is superior to Bing. The flesh is firm but juicy and has a pretty coral pink color. It’s perfect for kids to pick fruit from because the tree typically grows smaller and more compact than most other varieties. These cherries make great pies and freeze very well for future use.
Okay so they had me at perfect for kids to pick, but when they said these cherries make great pies, boy was I sold! Just take a look at these beautiful cherries:
So did I make a cherry pie–nope. But I had other ideas floating in my head of which “pops” came up. I thought I would try my hand at yet another type of pop, even though my first attempt at cake pops wasn’t what I expected. I really do have a love-hate relationship with pops. On the one hand, they are so darn adorable and if done right, really can be a work of art. On the other hand, gravity is not your friend with pops. So I tried to make some heart pie pops–only one survived the baking process. I pulled the rest of the sticks out in frustration and they became mini hand pies. I wasn’t too keen on the pie crust recipe so I won’t bother to repost it. It was more of a shortbread cookie than the texture of pie crust. Here is the lone pop along with its ”sister” the mini hand pie:
So on to my second idea–cherry cream cheese baked manju? On a recent trip back to Kona, I had a taste of some baked manju with chocolate and peanut butter–not your traditional manju filling that’s for sure. Baked manju, which has its origin from Japan, is one of those comfort foods in Hawaii. The baked version of manju has an outside sort of like a pie crust and it is filled with the traditional filling of an (red bean paste). It is similar to hopia (Filipino) or red bean cake (Chinese). In Hawaii, the locals have reinvented the manju resulting in a variety of different fillings as well as different ways to make the outside “crust”. There are also variations from island to island, hence the Maui style manju.
The filling was super easy to make: I pitted some cherries, put them in a pot along with some sugar and a little water, cooked on medium-low heat until the cherries became soft, and then I used an immersion blender to puree the cherries. Then I sweetened some cream cheese with confectioner’s sugar.
Next, I searched through my go to favorite local dessert recipe book, Hawaii’s Best Local Desserts, and sure enough I knew I would find a manju recipe–Maui-Style Baked Manju. I made a slight substitution and used 1 cup of oil and 2 stick of butter since I ran out of oil. Although the recipe indicated that it would yield 60 2-inch manju, my hubby and I made around 30 manju probably between 3-4 inches. So this increased the baking time to 40 minutes. However, I am posting the recipe as is from the book.
Maui-Style Baked Manju (From Hawaii’s Best Local Desserts)
5 c flour
2 c oil (I used 1 c of oil and 2 stick of butter)
3/4 c cold water
1 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar, optional (not in the book, but I added some sweetness)
Mix flour, oil (soften butter if using), water, salt, and sugar (optional). Form and flatten dough in palm of hand (I used a small cookie scoop for uniform sized manju). Place a small scoop of filling in center and cover with edges of dough (you can use the traditional koshian or tsubushian red bean or any filling). Pinch to seal edges. Place on ungreased cookie sheet (I placed them on my silpat). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. If you prefer that golden brown look, mix 1 egg and 1 tbsp of cream and brush on the tops.
These turned out really good! Much better than the pie pops and less work and heartache!
Even after making cherry cream cheese manju, we still had a lot of cherries! We shared with friend and co-workers, added cherries to our dinner salads, then cherries for dessert, and finally we are down to one last bag in the fridge! I have a plan in the works for them–along with strawberries. Stay tuned!