June and July are peak cherry-picking season, and though snacking on a bowl of cherries is a (healthy!) treat by itself, it's hard to resist a dessert featuring the sweet fruit. Here are 10 cherry desserts worth traveling for year-round.
1. GRAND TRAVERSE CHERRY CRUMB PIE // GRAND TRAVERSE PIE COMPANY // TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN
Michigan grows several varietals of cherries, and Michiganders love cherries so much the Lower Peninsula hosts the National Cherry Festival, in Traverse City, every summer. Mike and Denise Busley take advantage of the vast cherry supply in their state by making cherry pies at their bakery, Grand Traverse Pie Company. Their Grand Traverse Cherry Crumb, the signature pie of the festival (one chef Mario Batali has referred to as “a religious experience”) is made with tart Montmorency cherries. The bakery, which has more than a dozen locations across the state, also makes a natural cherry pie, adding no additional sugar; cherry berry (a blend of cherries and raspberries); and a cherry pie coated with ganache.
2. TOM’S CHEERY CHERRY CHERRY BERRY PIE // SWEETIE-LICIOUS // DEWITT, MICHIGAN
Another Michigan standout is Sweetie-licious. Linda Hundt’s pies have won first place at Crisco’s national pie competition, Food Network’s Amazing Pie Challenge, Michigan Live’s best pie in the state, and many other awards. Hundt named her signature pie, Tom’s Cheery Cherry Cherry Berry, after her brother-in-law because he loved the cherry pies she made for him. The pie contains Montmorency cherries, dried Michigan cherries, and blueberries, and can be found at three locations across Dewitt and Grand Rapids.
3. CERISES JUBILÉ // ANTOINE’S RESTAURANT // NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Setting cherries on fire—why not? As the story goes, renowned French chef Georges Auguste Escoffier created the flammable dish for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. The dish, widely known as Cherries Jubilee, takes cherries coated with sugar and brandy, and sets them ablaze tableside. In NOLA, Antoine Alciatore’s French-Creole institution takes Escoffier’s method but pours the brandied cherry mixture over ice cream. You can also find other flambeés in addition to Cherries Jubilee at Cyrano’s Café in St. Louis.
4. CHERRY KRIEK // STRANGE CRAFT BEER COMPANY // DENVER
Beer isn’t quite dessert, but Strange’s cherry beer has been described as “cherry pie in a glass,” so it belongs on this list. Though this beer contains Montmorency cherries, it’s not a sour beer, but a Belgian Dark Wheat Ale. Low in bitterness and with a foamy red head, this beer pairs well with chocolate, and it’s so good, it won the 2014 World Beer Cup in the fruit beer category. Get the beer on tap at Strange's Denver taproom.
5. CHERRY CRISP // MASTRO’S STEAKHOUSE // SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
has locations in Scottsdale (the original), Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, and all across California. Some diners say their signature warm butter cake is the restaurant’s best dessert, but their cherry crisp, which is on the menu at all 14 locations, gets high marks, too. Cherries are covered in a brown sugar-pecan crust and served with ice cream and a sprig of mint.
6. CHERRY BENJAMIN // BRYANT’S COCKTAIL LOUNGE // MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN
Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge—which has been opened for almost 80 years—is the oldest cocktail bar in Milwaukee. In 2012, Esquire named it one of the best bars in America. Its old school ethos translates into their drink menu. The Cherry Benjamin mixes ginger liqueur, cherry syrup, and cognac with vanilla ice cream (and whipped cream and a cherry on top), generating a boozy and dessert drink.
7. CHERRY SMASH SUNDAE // CHERRY SMASH ICE CREAM PARLOUR // CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA
The throwback ice cream parlor concocts the Cherry Smash, a rich sundae that the New Times Broward Palm Beach describes as “not to be missed.” Purple Haze ice cream (chocolate, cherry, raspberry) gets scooped into a gold goblet. “Hidden inside are chocolate-covered maraschino cherry candies that need to be unwrapped for consumption,” and then the ice cream is topped with walnuts, black cherry sauce, and hot fudge. In fact, all of their sundaes are elaborate and sweet-tooth worthy.
8. WILD CHERRY PHOSPHATE // THE ICE CREAM BAR // SAN FRANCISCO
Phosphates are an old-time soda fountain drink made with a syrup, acid phosphate, and soda water. San Francisco’s 1930s-themed The Ice Cream Bar makes a wild cherry one with housemade cherry syrup and wild cherry bark tincture. The result is a dark-as-blood red drink with a fizzy head. Besides the wild cherry phosphate, they also serve the L-O-L-A float: Cole St. Cola syrup (which is made with 15 botanicals), cherry syrup, black Morello cherry, and crème fraîche ice creams also containing acid phosphate and soda.
9. CHERRY ICE CREAMS // BONNIE BRAE ICE CREAM // DENVER
one of the best ice cream shops in the Mile High City, Bonnie Brae apparently loves their cherry ice creams. They rotate numerous kinds of cherry-infused flavors: cherry vanilla, cherry rum raisin, cherry mash, cherry cheesecake, cherry sherbet, and pineapple cherry cake.
10. CHERRY PIE // CROUSE CAFE // INDIANOLA, IOWA
Iowa is known for its cherry pie, and that is the specialty at Indianola's Crouse Cafe. This succulent cherry pie is housed in a tender flaky crust that Crouse's claims their diners call the best crust in the world. If that doesn't sell you, The Des Moines Register once listed Crouse Cafe's cherry pie one its "100 Things to Eat in Iowa Before Die."