Have You Tried This?


The cake, maybe, if last November’s Spanish Almond Cake inspired, but have you ever tried it with cherimoya, or custard apple, pictured below?Chirimoya

Custard apple is an apt description, as the creamy flesh is the consistency of soft-serve, and its taste is ambrosia, a beguiling mixture of apples, pears, bananas and mangoes.  The pulp is tantalizing when folded into a mildly sweet cake, and it’s wonderful by itself too, scooped directly from the fruit:Chirimoya-Split

These magnificent properties weren’t lost on residents of the cherimoya‘s native region, the Andes.  In fact, way back in colonial times, when the region still was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, people today known as Ecuadorians were adding cherimoya pulp to the Spanish torta de Santiago, or almond cake, with spectacular results.  The almonds’ slight sweetness, somewhat reminiscent of cherries, expands and improves substantially when the custard apple introduces a whole orchard of fruit flavors.

One of the concoction’s fans is, for the first time here, a fellow resident of the WordPress empire, chef Brian Fink, of the Cascadian Kitchen.  Unfortunately, his blog may be asleep, as the latest entries and comments date to 2014, but who knows?  Even if the blog now is in the past, its legacy, introducing the cherimoya here, is current.

Anyway, pulp is scooped from the custard apple, taking care to exclude the seeds, which actually are toxic if chewed.  The flesh, though, is magnificently flavorful and nutritious.  Here’s enough for our cake:Chirimoya Flesh

A personal inspiration is to garnish the cake with grated lemon and lime zest.  Not only does this add eye-catching flashes of color, but it completes the flavor profile, covering every flavor orchards produce.  Also, like last year’s torta de Santiago, this uses only almond flour, thus keeping it gluten-free!   All the more reason to try this, and make the answer to today’s headline question, “”Yes!”

*****

Tarta de Chirimoya

(Ecuadorian Cherimoya Almond Cake)

  • 1 pound (4-and-1/4 cups) almond flour
  • 6 ounces butter, softened slightly
  • 1-and-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1-and-3/4 cups cherimoya, seeds removed (*1)
  • 2/3 cup lavender blossoms
  • 1 lemon, plus one more lemon and a lime for garnish, optional (*2)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Spritz a 10-inch baking pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the granulated sugar.

Add the eggs and whisk until smooth.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cherimoya and add the rest to the batter.  As with the eggs, whisk until smooth.  Grate a lemon’s zest into the batter and mix it in well (be sure to retain the zested lemon itself for use later in the recipe!).  Fold in the lavender blossoms.

Bake for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the pan from the oven and spread the cherimoya you reserved earlier on the cake top, using a rubber spatula to spread it to an even thickness.  Return pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes more (45 minutes in total).

Set on a wire rack to cool.  Juice the lemon you saved and sprinkle the juice over the cake. When the cake is cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes, remove from the pan and top evenly with powdered sugar sprinkled through a mesh sieve.  Zest a lemon and a lime on top, if desired, slice and serve.

NOTES:

1 – This equals about two cherimoyas.  By the way, there’s a subtle difference in how the fruit is spelled in English and in Spanish.  In English it’s “cherimoya;” in Spanish the word is spelled “chirimoya” (two “i”s, no “e”).

2 – Zesting with an extra lemon and lime is an option worth pursuing.  If you can find them, use Meyer lemons, please.

42 thoughts on “Have You Tried This?

  1. I LOVE cherimoya. It’s one of my favorite fruits but unfortunately so difficult to obtain! And you have fresh culinary lavender as well?!? My goodness.

    So… will you be delivering your homemade desserts around the nation anytime soon? I would like to sign up. Haha 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Much appreciated, Summer! Cherimoya are none-too-common around here, so when they appeared in the market, “It’s now or never, bud.” This week’s original idea still will appear, but a some point in the future.

      How they made it here, mid-pandemic, who knows? I could’ve waited until they showed up again, but that might not be until 2022.

      Plus, “custard apple.” What an intriguing alias!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Not Wegman’s, surprisingly. Mostly, though, because the closest Wegman’s still is too distant to be practical.

        As you may recall, the local supermarket chain made an active decision a couple decades ago to go after the “upscale” customer. Their produce department was well regarded even then, and justifiably so. Today it’s about as good as it gets, sparing a trek into the city.

        Surprisingly, though, the SWM across the highway sometimes steals a march on them. Specifically, when you see tomatillos here, they came from SWM, not from Produce Valhalla. I know. Knock me over with a feather, that’s for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No easy Fits-All answers, though, Summer. Yes, I found cherimoyas, but no tomatillos (hence a trip across the highway to SWM), “baby” pineapples, jicama or even, some weeks, shallots, arugula or baby spinach.

        Hit or miss, as I suspect things will be until we have a vaccine.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I completely understand. Though Misfits seems to send me jicama every week, so I tend to be all set for those. My husband goes through a few bags of spinach per week; we’ve also been having trouble with that one some weeks as well. Strange, since it’s so common!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Much to be said for spinach, though arugula is my green of choice.

        Odd, isn’t it, spinach is giving shoppers like us a hard time? You’d think if one thing would be on the shelf, always, it’d be Popeye’s Favorite.

        Nope. Gotts make room for the occasional cherimoyas, I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I still have not entered a regular grocery store since March but the substitutions have been interesting. I can tell that the shopper is a non-cook when I get frozen corn in place of cornmeal. (Do they think I have a mill on the premises? LMAO)

        My husband is not extremely fond of arugula,… that was a swap for spinach they tried to make one week. I mean, at least it’s not radicchio…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Good point, Summer.

        It’s funny how acclimated I’ve become to seeing everyone all masked up. What appeared bizarre in March now seems to be normal. Oh God, no! Please don’t let me get institutionalized. Yearning for the day Lockdown ends, and I can go all Braveheart, ripping off my mask, yelling, “Freedom!”

        Anyway, I tried doing the grocery pick-up thing. For a month, I attempted several times a week, only to have the website advise, “Pick-Up Service Currently Full. Try Again Later.” Enough of this nonsense. Mask up, lad, and brave the hoarding hordes.

        Ultimately, I’m glad I did, as I never got into allowing someone else pick out my produce, meats, etc. Much as the grocers assured me the people making my selections for me would be “foodies,” your own experience proves they’re not.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yes, there have been some challenges with the deliveries. On the other hand, I’ve probably tried a few new things as a result of the substitutions. It has really been a mixed bag of positives and negatives.

        The closest thing to a store I’ve been in since the pandemic was probably a haircutting place. My son needed a haircut for his senior portrait and we did not want to give him a bad cut at home. It was so weird, having to sign a waiver regarding our health, the plastic screens in front of the registers, waiting outside, the masks, etc. It used to be so easy to do these sorts of things. Not anymore!

        Like

      8. Definitely, Summer! Someday, whenever that will be, things will make their ways back to “normal,” of some flavor or another. Question right now is, how and when? While shelves are a bit better-stocked than they were immediately behind the hoards, they’re still nowhere close to where they were as recently as March. Currently, the freezer, the pantry and Amazon are doing their part, but that will last only so long.

        Oh, aren’t barbershops an experience? Sign in at the desk, then wait out in the parking lot until a chair opens. Keep the mask on throughout, until the barber cuts around the ears, then hold the mask over your mouth.

        Maybe you should have given your son a trim at home. A buzzcut would be easy enough to accomplish. Then he’d look like one squared-away Marine. Outstanding!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. That it was, Summer. Especially the first couple weeks after barber shops/beauticians were allowed to operate again, it was madness. I had to wait in the car for over two hours until a spot was available.

        In comparison, masking up to get groceries was fun.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Needed, more like. By the time I got in, I was mere days away from becoming Cousin Itt.

        In fact, I bailed on work at lunchtime, as I knew the barber shop would be the better part of an afternoon, and it was. Fingers crossed, this was a one-time deal, and now I have a story to tell.

        Not a particularly interesting story, but still…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ooh custard apples, you have me there! My first field with the alpacas was next to the orchard with advo mango and ca ❤ A major reason I'm keen to relocate close to the farmers market so I can get them fresh again 🙂

    But they would never last long enough with me to make it into any recipe, fresh by itself is the way to go!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kate! You certainly have the advantage, as the cherimoya we get must make their way from somewhere much more tropical than here.

      As you know, lots of work, too, to get to the good parts, as the bitter and/or toxic sections must be avoided. So worth all the trouble, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What an odd fruit… apples, pears, bananas, AND mangoes? My imagination fails me.

    Though, that’s not necessarily a bad thing; just means I might be all the more inclined to try it one day. And perhaps with a bit of cake, eh?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hope you do, Rachel. I think you’ll be pleased.

      Believe me, I was as skeptical last week as you are today. Surely, tales of a multi-flavored fruit must be Cherimoya Council propaganda, right?

      Well, cherimoyas won’t save the world, but they do manage to put a bowl of fruit in your hand. All pudding-like too. Thing is, they’re not-so-common for those of us who live anywhere other than where palms sway in the breeze.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Seems like a tall tale, doesn’t it, Rachel? As you mention, though, if you ever can find cherimoyas, taste for yourself.

        Just one warning – the seeds are toxic. You’d have to break open the seeds and ingest their interiors for them to be even vaguely harmful, though. Rest assured, the seeds are quite large (size and shape of a large bean), are clustered and are extracted and discarded easily. Plus, the seeds are color-coded, being dark brown while the edible, luscious part of the custard apple is a creamy white. That established, enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s definitely odd.

        When you say “toxic,” are we talking iocane powder, or bellyache? Personally, I’m not much inclined to be munching on seeds anyway, but I’m curious what degree of caution is required.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. More the former, actually, which kind of freaked me out at first. As you point out, though, it’d be an issue only if you made a point of downing them by the handful.

        Little chance of that happening when the fruit itself is such an experience. Job #1, evict the seeds. Get thee behind me, Satan. After that, Paradise awaits.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely. I love almond cake. Quite delightful.

    I’ve never had this type of fruit but I’m sure I might be able to find it somewhere around here. Sounds delicious.

    By the way, you will definitely want to check out my latest post. 🙂🥥👨‍🍳

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Much appreciated, JoAnn! You’re right, definitely lots of reasons to investigate your site. One of the main draws – coconuts! Your mentioning me was completely unexpected, though a happy discovery nonetheless. Thank you! Much more to say, and I do, on your site.

      You almost certainly will be able to find cherimoyas. After all, Florida is much more amenable to growing and to maintaining them, and the state does have a significant Latin American element. Not just Cubans, either, although they like cherimoyas too.

      It takes a little work to get to the flesh, but so worth the trouble!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. To answer the question, no, I have not. If I hadn’t seen the photo, I might’ve thought you had made cherimoya up with your vivid imagination. Our earth never ceases to amaze—sort of like your blog. And then there you go with the Meyer lemons again. Side note: I spent the weekend with my friend Cheri. I’ve found a new middle name for her.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Much obliged, Crystal! Until I tasted a cherimoya myself last week, I was prepared to call shenanigans. No way is this possible.

      Have to say, though, seldom has being wrong been so delicious.

      Oh yeah, Meyers. They’ve become the citrus world’s answer to shallots in my kitchen. Rarely if ever will I use onions or “regular” lemons when shallots and Meyers are available. Sorry, I don’t cook with inferior ingredients!

      On your side note, your friend Cheri isn’t mobbed-up is she? I could swear I read a snippet in the paper, “Also taken in for questioning was Cheri ‘The Maya’ Dicenzo, who’s thought to run numbers for the Lake Shore Drive family.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course, Tamara.

        Something like this this has happened before. Remember that planked steak a couple years ago? Well, I grilled an extra for a curious reader. That time, I chose a jaguar as the courier.

        You wouldn’t believe what happened next…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate your thoughts, Abi!

      After passing cherimoyas a dozen times at the market, curiosity finally overcame caution, and I’m glad it did. Custard apples are a lot of work, granted, but the results also are unparalleled.

      Watch out, cherimoyas, because I’ll be back!

      Liked by 1 person

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