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It’s time to inhale all the cherries

To get you started on your exciting cooked-cherry journey, try a cherry-almond upside down cake.
(Leslie Grow / For The Times)

I don’t know about you but I get fanatical over cherries. It’s not that they’re the best stone fruit — that’d be plums, no contest — but because of their size and fleetingness of their growing season, I find myself buying up every bag I come across and trying to capture their essence in as many bites as possible. And as much as I love a raw cherry, their flavor really stands out once cooked, that extra heat waking up the phenols, or ... whatever compound makes cherries taste more cherry-y.

To get you started on this exciting cooked-cherry journey, there’s my cherry-almond upside down cake. It has a couple of steps but is the perfect cake to keep out and cut away slices of as the days go by, getting more moist the longer the cake melds with the collapsed cherries on top.

A classic cherry pie with lattice top can’t be beat, and this one perks up the fruit with a splash of Grand Marnier. Cornmeal adds crunch and color to buttermilk scones riddled with dried cherries (but you can use fresh ones — I’ve tried it; they’re great). And for something a little more elegant for a dinner party, try a simple cherry and chocolate tart, with whole sour cherries embedded in a rich chocolate ganache and glazed with jam to give it that French pastry shop finish.

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They’re all simple baked classics that use any cherry you can get your hands on. Make them for company or keep them on the counter for when the craving hits and you just want to dig in with a spoon all by yourself.

Cherry-Almond Upside Down Cake

Cherries are cooked down to concentrate their flavor and rid them of excess moisture first, before going into a cake pan and being topped by an almond-paste batter that helps amplify their flavor. The result is dense and aromatic and is great for breakfast.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 55 minutes.

Cherry almond ripple cake.
(Leslie Grow / For The Times)

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Sweet Cherry Pie

Make sure to let this pie cool completely — like leave it alone for a few hours — to ensure it gels up well to give you those picture-perfect slices.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Sweet Cherry pie
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Corn-Cherry Scones

Corn and cherries are a natural combo, and they’re delicious in these Southern-style scones. Swap the dried cherries for 1 cup of halved or quartered fresh cherries and bake them 5 minutes longer.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 40 minutes.

076196.FO.0114.food1.ls----SOS.Scones. Corn cherry scones on Jan 14,2004.
(Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times)

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Chocolate and Cherry Tart

The almonds in the crust for this tart add an extra element of flavor to bolster that of the whole cherries on top. If you happen to have some cherry jam, use that in place of the jelly for an even more pronounced hit of fruit.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 ½ hours.

Cherries tart- Chocalate and Cherry Tart photographed at the Los Angeles Times, Wednesday. Plate is from Sur La Table.
(Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times)

Where to eat outside in L.A. right now

Are you eating in the world again? Bill Addison and Jenn Harris have compiled a list of restaurants for you to consider, with an emphasis on outdoor dining, newer restaurants, and some under-the-radar pearls they especially love. The roster includes tacos and tlayudas, sushi and ramen, dumplings and congee and beef noodle soup, the coolest hot chicken sandwich and a rooftop hot spot — so don’t miss our spring restaurant guide.

With L.A. in the yellow tier of COVID-19 reopening, restaurants are booming. Check out these outdoor dining options for sushi, ramen, tacos and more.

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