Category Archives: ground cherry

Ground cherry galette and no-churn vanilla bean soft serve

this "ice cream" melts so fast it's only by the grace of autofocus it survived plating and posing

I’ve never made a galette before, but it seemed like a good idea because pies are one of the primary traditional applications for ground cherries, and I didn’t have nearly enough to make a traditional double-crust pie filling. Since galettes are free-formed around their fillings, they can be as big or little as you want to make them. And so much easier than pies—there’s no delicate procedure to get the crust into a pie pan without cracking, no par-baking and hoping the sides don’t droop or shrink. No crimping or lattice.

But I was wary of just following a normal ground cherry pie recipe and changing the shape, because the lack of shaping and par-baking means the crust can get soggy if the filling is too wet, which is why fruit galette recipes often call for a layer of crushed cookies or cubes of pound cake or a frangipane to help soak up the juices. Rose Levy Beranbaum’s suggestion to let cut fruit sit with sugar for 30 min and then drain off and reduce the syrup sounded like a good idea, but unnecessarily fussy. Instead of going to the trouble of draining off the juice, I just simmered the halved ground cherries with some brown sugar and limoncello (a desperation substitution when I realized I didn’t have any lemons) until the liquid had reduced a bit, basically making a quick ground cherry jam. And then I entirely forgot to add the butter most of the pie recipes called for. C’est la vie.

It turned out like a big ground cherry pop tart, basically. Just a simple buttery pastry crust filled with a thin layer of rich, sweet ground cherry preserves. Lovely with ice cream, perfect for breakfast. I may still try to pick up enough at the market this weekend to do a proper pie, but this galette definitely sated my somewhat-batty obsession with the fruit, which is good in case the two pints from last week are all I get for the summer. It probably goes without saying you could do this with any other kind of berry, and most stone fruits too, but there. I said it anyway.

simultaneously rustic and bejeweled

Recipe: Ground cherry galette

(crust adapted from Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for More Food, filling adapted from Allrecipes and Vesey’s)according to The Yuppie Handbook (published 1984), I get 4 points for owning a marble rolling pin

For the crust: 

  • 8 T. butter (Alton uses 6 T. butter and 2T. lard, I don’t usually have lard around and didn’t feel like digging out the shortening)
  • 1 1/4 c. (6 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 T. sugar (optional—leave out for a savory galette)
  • 2-3 T. ice water

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups ground cherries, husked and halved
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 2 t. tapioca
  • 1 T. limoncello or the juice of 1 lemon
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 2 T. butter (also optional, apparently)

Cut the butter into 16 or so chunks and freeze while you get the other ingredients together. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor bowl and pulse (or just whisk together). Add the butter and pulse 10 or so times (or cut in with a pastry blender or two crisscrossing knives) until the biggest lumps are the size of small peas.

 also a reason why forgetting to add butter to the filling wasn't a big deal though not quite the *shape* of peas

I decided to try Alton’s recommendation of using a spray bottle to distribute the ice water evenly, but it also misted the sides of the bowl (and I can’t imagine how that could be avoided entirely), so when I hit "pulse" again, the mist attracted flour and formed a thin layer of moist paste on the side of the bowl, which is about as awesome as most things you describe as "moist paste." So I gave up on that and just fed the ice water through the opening in the top, pulsing until the dough just barely started to come together.

 thumbs down  thumbs up!moist paste. say it quickly and it starts to sound like "myspace" with a slight brogue: "moispace"

Then, dump the contents of the food processor onto a piece of plastic wrap (or into a large zip-top bag). Use the plastic to help you press it into a disk about 5" in diameter and 1" tall. Chill for 30 min.

Meanwhile, husk the cherries and slice them in half into a sauce pan, setting aside any that are still tinged with green. Sprinkle with brown sugar, tapioca, and lemon juice or limoncello. Grate in a pinch of nutmeg. Stir over medium heat until the cherries release their juices and the juice thickens into a glaze.

filling3 filling1

Preheat the oven to 400.

Roll out the pastry on a piece of parchment paper—leaving the plastic wrap on top helps. Doesn’t have to be a perfect circle because the whole idea here is a rustic, uneven sort of charm, but the best way I’ve found to get a roughly even circle-like object is to roll from the center of the dough directly away from your body, or up towards 12 o’clock. Then, turn the parchment about 30 degrees and do it again, and repeat, turning it in a circle and always rolling in the same direction with roughly the same amount of pressure.

Spread the filling in the center, leaving at least a 2" border or up to 4". Then, fold the edges up, letting them pleat naturally or attempting to bend them to your will or some combination of the two.

galette3 galette4

Bake for 35-40 min.

A few minutes after I’d put it in the oven, I remembered that I’d seen Thank God It’s Pie Day sugar her galettes before baking, which gave them sparkle and a little crunch. So I pulled it out of the oven and did that. Bonus for being forgetful: I didn’t having to brush the pastry with water to get the sugar to stick.

Recipe for the no-churn, no-whisk, ice-cream-or-semifreddo-like dessert object will have to wait. I’m tired.

Meet the ground cherry: a wish fulfilled.

like little paper lanterns, but, you know, less tacky

I’ve been dying to try these for what feels like forever. They’re basically just a tiny husk tomato*, and according to James Beard, they used to be quite common in many parts of the U.S. But now, for some reason, few people seem to have heard of them and I’ve certainly never seen them at any supermarket or on any restaurant menu. Perhaps, despite the fact that they supposedly grow well even in poor soil, they don’t take well to industrial-scale cultivation or don’t hold up well over long distances. Or maybe their scarcity has something to do with the idea that some varieties are believed to be hallucinogenic, which is apparently the reason there’s a law in Louisiana that says you can only grow smooth groundcherry for ornamental use. would louisiana let you grow "ornamental" marijuana?

The feeling of “forever”  is so variable. Ten consecutive hours of driving. Ten minutes waiting in line. Apparently, in time spent waiting to taste a ground cherry, forever is just over a year.  I first heard about them last summer when a friend from Ohio got some in his weekly CSA share. I went looking for more information, and the descriptions I found were unbelievably tantalizing: a fruit that tastes like a cross between strawberries, pineapple, and vanilla custard. They sounded like they might be the most delicious thing ever found in nature.

I kept an eye out at the farmer’s market, but must have missed their window last summer, or maybe no one was growing them for sale yet. Then, in February when Brian went to Egypt, he had something that fit the description perfectly, as improbable a place as that seemed to find an almost-completely unknown husk tomato cultivar. They wouldn’t have survived the trip, even if he’d been able to smuggle them past customs, so I waited and waited for summer which never comes fast enough in Michigan anyways. And for most of this year, too, I searched the farmer’s market in vain. I started to feel like they were some mythical creature, and I was Molly Grue.

But then this weekend, I spotted a handful of pint baskets full of what looked like the tiniest tomatillos I’d ever seen. At first, Brian thought I was pointing at the actual tomatillos, slicing-tomato-sized on the shelf below, as if my desperation had made me delusional. But no, there they were.

and the clouds parted and rays of brilliant light shone down and an unseen choir sang a C major chord

Are they the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted? Okay, probably not. But I’m not disappointed; they’re pretty great. The tiny seeds and mild acidity are definitely reminiscent of strawberry or kiwi, but with this rich perfume that is a little like vanilla but also entirely its own thing.

what if the "ornamental" marijuana also grew adorable paper-lantern fruit?When we got back from the market, I husked a small handful and ate them with some of the raspberries with plain yogurt and a little bit of maple syrup.

You can tell from the picture that some of them are a little green, which apparently means they’re not quite ripe, and just like  unripe tomatoes, those ones had a bit of crunch and bitterness. But left at room temperature, preferably with their husks on, they get sweeter and more golden every day.

A recipe coming soon, not that you need one if you do manage to get your hands on some. I totally agree with with James Beard: “When eaten raw [ground-cherries] are refreshingly sweet and rich.  It is mystifying to me that they are not more prized.” (from Cooking Books)

*which aren’t technically tomatoes, someone just pointed out to me. Husk tomatoes are in the same family, but a different genus than other tomatoes. And all of them related to nightshade, and someday I’ll write something about why so many people used to think tomatoes were poisonous.