After a week of unexpected torrential downpours and flash flooding in Melbourne, a morning of cherry picking felt like a brave move. Armed with raincoats, umbrellas and gum boots we ventured out into the orchards. My initial objective was to fill my bucket as quickly as possible and hit the cafe for ice cream. But there was something quite magical about picking our own cherries with the excited chatter of children in the background that helped us forget the drizzle. We took photos, filled our bellies and buckets with cherries, and I was struck by how easy it is to forget where our food comes from.
Cherries are the epitome of an Australian Christmas for me. When piles of glistening cherries appear in the store, it means that Santa is not far behind. Upon arriving home I wanted to create something with all the juicy fresh cherries. Previously I have made a Chocolate Mud Cake Cherry Cheesecake fusion and a Cherry Christmas ice cream cake but this year I wanted something different.
Melting Moments have been a favourite treat for years. If faced with a choice of cake or a crumbly creamy shortbread biscuit, the shortbread wins every time. I hadn’t made them for years though. When I lived in Brisbane I would churn out melting moments at every possible occasion. They were little butter bombs filled with zesty lemon cream. There was nothing more lovely than whisking buttercream on a Sunday afternoon as trays and trays of biscuits cooled on my oversized kitchen bench.
But my life has changed drastically and it seems, so have my melting moments. These ones have cinnamon flavoured shortbread and a cherry and orange zest filling. They are little more complex and spicy, just like me – now there’s a metaphor.
If you are not surrounded by cherries in your part of the world, winter fruits like cranberries would be perfect for these too.
If you live in Victoria and would like to go cherry picking, check out the Victorian Cherry Association website for all the details on availability and locations. You might see a photo of me from last years cherry picking foray there too
- 350g (12 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup icing (confectioners) sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup cornflour, sifted
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 90g (3 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 1.5 cups icing (confectioners) sugar, sifted
- 90g (3oz) fresh cherries
- 2 tsp finely grated orange rind
- Extra cinnamon for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F)
- Line baking trays with baking paper
- Beat the butter, icing sugar, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl until light and fluffy.
- Gently fold in flour and cornflour, try not to mix too much.
- Place even teaspoonfuls of mixture on prepared trays, allowing room for spreading.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden.
- Cool on trays
- Remove pits from cherries and puree the cherry flesh
- Beat butter, sugar, 3 teaspoons of cherry puree and orange rind until light and fluffy
- Pipe or spread onto half the biscuits
- Sandwich with the remaining biscuits.
- Dust the tops with extra cinnamon
- For a neater, traditional look you can pipe the cookies and the filling but I like them quite rustic.
- I always match up evenly sized and shaped cookies before I start spreading the filling
- Don't throw away any leftover cherry purée - it's delicious on yoghurt or in a smoothie