The light, soft buttermilk biscuit has just a touch of almond flavor to it, that comes out more with each bite. It is the sturdy base which supports the other components in this dish. The sour cherry compote just blazes with flavor, tart and sweet and intoxicatingly intense. The pickled ginger barely needs to be candied at all, but the added sugar adds a nice crunch to the already crisp ginger.
The pickled ginger and sour cherry flavors really sing together - those two are the key flavors in this dish, the ones that truly dazzle the senses. And the creamy buttermilk pulls everything together, finishing the job in perfect harmony.
To give credit where it's due, part of the inspiration here came from the pork and apples class we took with Aki and Alex of Ideas in Food. We'd never really thought about using pickled ginger as anything except for a side with sushi and soy sauce, so when it was added into the amazing cilantro sauce made that day, it was a revelation to us.
It is such a pleasure to share inspiration this way. Pickled ginger and sour cherries - try it yourself, and see where it takes you next!
Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger
For the almond buttermilk biscuits
250 g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C (8 tbsp, or 1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 C buttermilk
1/2 tsp almond extract
For the sour cherry compote
600 g frozen pitted sour cherries
150 g sugar
For the butterscotch
3/4 C light brown sugar, packed
1/2 C light corn syrup
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 C heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp xanthan gum or 7 g agar agar
For the candied pickled ginger
Make the almond buttermilk biscuits
Preheat your oven to 450 F.
In a food processor, process together all the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into chunks and add it. Pulse ten times or so. Add in the buttermilk and almond extract, then pulse six or so times, until a dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop. Shape it into rough lump. Cut the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a sphere. Place them on a parchment paper covered baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes or so, or until golden brown on top.
Make the sour cherry compote
Cook the cherries and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until most of the liquid is gone.
Make the butterscotch
In a small saucepan, simmer the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and cream of tartar together until it reaches 240 F, then immediately stir in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. To thicken it nicely, add either the xantham gum (for a more silky texture) or the agar agar (for a more slithery texture).
Make the candied pickled ginger
Roll the pickled ginger in sugar. Discard the now-damp sugar. Roll the pickled ginger in fresh sugar. Remove the ginger from the sugar, and slice it into thin slices.
Plate and serve.