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Summer can be both a wonderful and frustrating time for New York City's pastry chef population. On the one hand, we've finally got a whole rainbow of beautiful fruit to work with. No more heavy caramel nut tarts or buttery lemon curd trifles! Instead, there's fragrant strawberries, sweet-tart raspberries and all manner of stone fruit. On the other hand, many summer fruits can be expensive with very brief growing seasons. Add to that the local trend—especially in Manhattan—of the City emptying out every summer when those with extra cash flee to their summer homes and you have a bunch of disappointed sugar slingers.
Often pastry departments are downsized in the summer. Profits drop, and all of a sudden the owners are stressing. You're down one dishwasher and a line cook or two, and they're starting to cast their gaze into the sweet corner of the kitchen. Pastry chefs are unfortunately still all too often considered a luxury. At my first chef job, just a few short months after we opened, the owner was trying to convince the chef he didn't need me, despite having loved everything I sent out and bragging to his investors about me. Around that time I put up a wall of suspicion, outright refusing to add my recipes to the official binder and instead taking my notebooks home with me every night. It was common knowledge in the kitchen that if I went, so did all the sweets that people associated with the restaurant.
I survived that summer unscathed by offering to take on normal prep duties, therefore proving my worth. There wasn't much to do when I was only selling a handful of desserts every day, anyway. My menu, which usually had five items on it, was cut down to three, and I had to be very selective about which summer fruit I would be playing with. One fruit I'd love unlimited access to is sour cherries.
Sour cherries have a gloriously fleeting season, and since I can rarely afford to buy them more than once a yea,r I splurge and make this sorbet in the peak of summer. Wonderfully tart and refreshing, it's always worth it, and homemade amaretti cookies, which have made an appearance at nearly every restaurant I've cheffed for, make an absolutely lovely accompaniment for a naturally gluten-free, almost healthy treat.
About the Author: Anna Markow is a pastry chef obsessed with doing things that no one else does and giving unusual ingredients their time to shine. You can follow her sometimes-pastry-related thoughts on Twitter @VerySmallAnna.
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