Thursday, July 24, 2014

Black Forest Cherry Baked Oatmeal (Chocolate Cherry and Cream)



Infant summer was fine and feeble; yes, fine as baby birds’ bones on the cusp of eggshell pieces. Now, I watch from my distant window. Their plumes are thick, as is the air, and their heavy feathers flock the burning asphalt streets like locks of obsidian hair on hard ceramic tile; cut, severed by the nicotine fingers of slowly-dawning night. I’ve been collecting them; the feathers I mean. Them, along with a few of summer’s other ephemerals: Rainwater for the orchids, a pour deer skull from the slow mastication of maggots (just… don’t ask), flowers the color of scarlet sunsets, an ivy plant to cascade my bookshelves, which are also growing as avid as ever. I’ve had this terrible knack, or need, ever since I was very small, to collect, especially in the transient hands of summer. I will her to hand them over, and I think she respects my courage. She recognizes the young philosopher and student in me, appreciates my eternal search for the real alchemical golds in this life.
But summer; she is aging. Her skin is stained in sepia and her eyes; they are heavy with the weight of a sedated flaxen light. The days have lost a bit of their light-hearted flight, and everything seems more resolute, more preserved. Everything was so variegated, until heat became the tamer and domesticated the wild winds. (It hasn’t rained in weeks.) I’ve long-time wished for life to slow down, my fleeting feet to slow down, for summer to slow down and please just let me breathe. But now, in the stone days of summer, I’m not sure that my wishes were worth the gold. Earlier in the season, I said I was drunk on the notion that “summer, summer it will always be summer”. Today, I stand; a sober woman.
For now though, it’s still them stone fruit summer days! Swollen and ripe with fruits of the heart, with thick skins and peachy flesh, and crimson blood that demands to be licked off of your wrist on a sultry evening; they taste of sunsets and nectar off the lips of tiger lilies, and all the gold you have yet to find. There’s a little cherry tree down by this hidden meadow, where the foxfires grow and cranes make nestings. It’s a hole in the forest wall, kind of place. It was here that I really wanted to take these photos, because, "black forest" and all. The water ripples with a feathers’ descent, and overcomes you the type of silence that you can actually, truly, hear.  And, among the weeping willows and maple oaks, there’s a young and timid cherry tree, with fruits that are anything but.
From the branch (also home to a family of amiable sparrows), the cherries are tart, but not in a way that’s overwhelming. It’s a tart that sings promises on your tongue to be sweeter, if only you take it home, nurture it, sugar it up a bit. Perhaps some chocolate? And something creamy to foster its’ velvet flesh? I’m really not sure if it was the cherries talking, or the birds, or the magical forest fairies that I sometimes pretend to exist in this little forest haven, or maybe I’m insane, or just culinarily clever, or maybe I’m both; I don’t really know. Either way, black forest cherry cake seemed fitting.

As I said, we’ve got a bit of chocolate, a lot of cherries, and some cream or yogurt to top it off, if you’d like. Many traditional Black Forest Cake recipes include coffee liqueur, so I added in a pinch of espresso powder. It’s presence is only another feather; deepening the dark cocoa, without tasting like morning brew. I was feeling rambunctious today, and went all out with whipped cream. But, yogurt is perfect for topping, or even cashew cream. This little breakfast cake looks rich and extravagant, but it’s real light and airy, just as a black forest cake should be. It’s packed with smoldering cherries both inside and out, giving it a moist texture, with just enough bite from the pieces settled inside. It speaks of a summer hostess, but one who is set in her traditions. It’s definitely a recipe I’ll be adding, and saving, to my collection of memories from this passing season. I hope you do the same. Keep this one somewhere you’re likely to forget, but will always remember; tuck it away in the back pocket of your favorite denims, so that next summer when the stone fruits are ripe and ready to give, you’ll have it right in the palms of your cherry-stained hands.