One sure sign that spring has sprung is the blossoming of cherry trees. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with cherry trees, you know the wonder and beauty of the arrival of cherry blossoms. The most famous place in the world for the celebration of all things cherry blossom is, of course, Japan. Known around the world for its cherry blossom festivals, there is no better place to experience the excitement and simple glory of this time of year.
Known as hanami in Japanese, the act of enjoying and celebrating the blooming of cherry trees is celebrated throughout Japan. Hanami, which literally means “viewing flowers” but is used most often in conjunction with cherry blossoms, is said to date back more than 1,000 years to when the aristocracy enjoyed viewing the splendid cherry blossoms and wrote poems inspired by them. We’re sure they were cherry good!
Here in the U.S., we have our own four-week celebration of cherry blossoms at the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., where more than 1.5 million people come to enjoy nature’s show and all the activities surrounding the cherry trees’ season of blooming. The Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Jukio Ozaki of Tokyo to our nation’s capital and celebrates the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan.
Due to the blossoms’ fleeting nature – they typically last no longer than two weeks – they are often featured in Japanese works of art or tattoos to depict the concept of mono no aware, which means “the pathos of things” and is an understanding of life’s impermanence, that nothing lasts forever.
Fortunately for us, the beauty of cherry blossoms lives on in the deliciousness of cherries year round! We’ve put together a few cherry recipes to kick off your spring and carry you through long after the blossoms have fallen. You can start with our own Cherry Blossom tea, inspired by a spring trip to where else but Tokyo! Steep up a cuppa and say hello, spring!
Cherry Blossom Latte
Our Cherry Blossom blend is a green tea base with cherry and vanilla flavors. We think it makes a delightfully different and light springtime latte. Serve it hot or iced.
- 4 oz. Cherry Blossom tea, steeped
- ½ oz. cherry syrup
- ¼ oz. vanilla syrup
- Milk of your choice, steamed
- Pour tea and syrup into a 12-oz. Cup.
- Add steamed milk and froth.
- Drizzle with a cherry syrup, if desired.
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with Shortbread Cookie Crust
For this recipe, we’ve taken Cherry Blossom & Chocolate Allens Scottish Shortbread flavored with our Cherry Blossom tea and used it for the shortbread cookie base of this cheesecake, giving it just a hint of cherry flavor. Top with cherry sauce, if desired, to complete the decadence!
- Approx. 25 Cherry Blossom & Chocolate Allens Scottish Shortbread
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
- 24 oz. cream cheese, softened
- ½ C sugar
- ½ C brown sugar
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 C sour cream
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- ¾ C mini chocolate chips
- ½ C milk
- 8 or 9 Cherry Blossom & Chocolate Allens Scottish Shortbread
Cherry Topping Ingredients:
- 4 C sweet cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted*
- ¼ to ⅓ C water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp sugar
*1 lb. of stemmed and unpitted cherries equals 2 ½ to 3 cups of cherries, so you’ll need about 1⅓ lbs. of cherries.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a parchment circle.
- Place shortbread for the crust into a food processor and pulse until you have about 3 cups of crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the crumbs and melted butter.
- Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Cover the outsides of the pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
- Reduce the oven to 300°F.
- In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugars and flour until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the sour cream and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until well combined.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating slowly and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Stir in the mini chocolate chips.
- Place the milk into a small bowl. Dip the 8 or 9 shortbread into the milk and line the bottom of the crust with them.
- Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust, covering the shortbread.
- Place the springform pan (covered with aluminum foil) inside another larger pan. Fill the larger pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. The water should not go above the top edge of the aluminum foil on the springform pan.
- Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes.
- Crack the oven door and leave cheesecake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and chill until firm, 5-6 hours or overnight.
- Serve with whipped cream and cherry topping, if desired.
Cherry Topping Instructions:
- In a medium saucepan (off the heat), add water (use ⅓ cup for fresh cherries and ¼ cup water for frozen cherries). Whisk in cornstarch, lemon juice and sugar.
- Place over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Add cherries and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is at a light boil (about 6-10 minutes for fresh cherries and 12-15 minutes for frozen). The sauce should be thickened and uniformly bubbling, not just at the edges, then remove from heat.
- Cool to room temperature, then cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will thicken more as it stands.
Cherry Tea Cakes
Got tea? Then you need these little cherry delights for a wonderful spring tea. Cherry-o!
- 1 C powdered sugar
- 1 C butter, softened
- 2 tsp maraschino cherry liquid
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 3 or 4 drops red food color
- 2 ¼ C all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ C drained maraschino cherries, chopped
- ½ C white vanilla baking chips
- Heat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, cherry liquid, almond extract and food color with an electric mixer on medium speed until blended. On low speed, beat in flour and salt. Stir in cherries.
- Shape dough into 1-inch balls. On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool 20 to 30 minutes.
- In a 1-quart resealable plastic bag, place baking chips; seal bag. Microwave on high 35 to 50 second, squeezing chips in bag every 15 seconds, until chips are melted and smooth. Cut a small tip from the bottom corner of the bag; drizzle melted chips over cookies.