Picnic Board with fresh Cherry Time™ Cherries, Almond Shortbread and White Chocolate Cheesecake Dip - The Sweet Rebellion
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Picnic Board with fresh Cherry Time™ Cherries, Almond Shortbread and White Chocolate Cheesecake Dip

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It’s that time of year when delicious juicy Cherry Time™ cherries are in season! Just like last year, I was invited to visit the Cherry Time farm in Worcester. We had a short demo on how to correctly pick cherries (each stalk individually by hand!) followed by a stunning picnic lunch in the orchards. After that, there was time to pick as many cherries as we could fit in our baskets (with a few cheeky nibbles inbetween!).
While admiring my harvest of juicy plump cherries, I got to thinking how gorgeous they look just as they are. So instead of using them to create a dessert, I decided to showcase them in all their beauty as the centrepiece to a picnic board. I did however create two “side dishes” to enjoy with fresh cherries – a creamy white chocolate cheesecake dip and crisp almond shortbread. When eaten together, the white chocolate, almond and cherry flavours complement eachother perfectly. Kind of like a deconstructed white chocolate and cherry cheesecake (and definitely a more picnic-friendly version!).
Cherry Time™ cherries are online for a limited time while they’re in season, so don’t miss out!

Ingredients:
(serves 4-6)

For the Almond Shortbread:
125g salted butter, room temperature
50g icing sugar (⅓ cup)
a few drops of almond extract
50g ground almonds (½ cup)
40g corn flour (⅓ cup)
140g flour (1 cup)
50g chopped or slivered almonds (½ cup)

For the White Chocolate Cheesecake dip:

125g white chocolate, finely chopped
60ml milk (¼ cup)
250g full fat cream cheese, room temperature
125ml cream (½ cup)
50g castor sugar
5ml vanilla extract (1 tsp)
5ml finely grated lemon zest (1 tsp)

To serve:
500g fresh Cherry Time cherries

Other suggestions for your picnic feast:
chocolate coated shortbread balls
1 large baguette
a variety of crackers
a variety of cheese
breadsticks
pretzels
pistachios
olives
ham, salami, chorizo or other cold meats
crudité with a cream cheese dip

Directions:

  • To make the almond shortbread, cream together the butter and icing sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add a few drops of almond essence and mix well.
  • Add the ground almonds, cornflour and flour and mix until just combined. Stir in the chopped or slivered almonds.
  • Bring the dough together with your hands, adding a little flour if necessary, but do not overwork the dough.
  • Divide the dough in half, then shape each half into a sausage shape. Press down flat onto your counter and rotate until you have a rectangular log shape, about 4cm x 5cm. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until firm enough to slice.
  • Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Remove 1 log of dough from the fridge and carefully slice into 2-3mm thick slices (I find using a knife dipped in hot water and dried on a tea towel works well for this).
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until just turning lightly golden. Cool on the tray for a few minutes then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with the 2nd log of dough.
  • Store the almond shortbread in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • To make the cheesecake dip, place the chopped white chocolate and milk into a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until completely melted, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Cream together the cream cheese and icing sugar until fluffy, then add the vanilla and lemon zest. Stir in the cooled melted chocolate.
  • Whip the cream until you have soft peaks (not too stiff). Stir about a quarter of cream into the cream cheese mixture, then carefully fold in the rest of the cream.
  • Store the dip in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Serve the almond shortbread and cheesecake dip with lots of fresh cherries as part of a delicious picnic feast!

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