Those fluorescent red blobs garnishing many a drink may look pretty, but they lack so much in the way of flavor. I’ve been seeking a cherry worthy of garnishing my drinks for ages and have concluded it’s time to make my own. I came across this recipe a couple of years ago after cherry season had passed. And last year…well, let’s just say that last year during prime cherry season it was all I could do to find time to pit and freeze the ones I did buy.
So here I am now, a couple of years later, finally getting around to this recipe. I have pitted more than 4 pounds of cherries so far; most are in the freezer, portioned out for future cherry pies. But a few lucky ones have made it to a fragrant brandy bath in which they now gleefully soak. Not a bad life for a cherry.
As is my norm, I modified the original recipe I found. The original is from the Nourished Kitchen site. The changes I made are at the end of this post. My main modification was due to not having one of the main ingredients on hand – namely sour cherry juice. It has now been added to my pantry – along with a couple of more pounds of cherries in my fridge – and I will be making the original recipe sometime this week. I will compare the results and report back. I am nothing if not diligent!!
I foresee these being used in many a Manhattan, my all-time favorite mixed drink. (Have I mentioned I am a Bourbon Girl? Mmmm, bourbon…) I often use Luxardo cherries in my drinks, but I have a feeling these will be a superior replacement. I cannot wait to confirm this hypothesis.
I made the recipe (below) a week ago and tested one just yesterday. It is potent yet delicious. The cinnamon already comes through. I suspect that in addition to a tasty Manhattan this will make a nice Cherry Clafoutis as well. I can also envision these cherries lightly heated and served over vanilla ice-cream…so many ideas to try!!
I will keep you updated once I try the original recipe. I suspect it will be even better with the addition of the sour cherry juice!
- 1/2 pound sweet cherries**
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla beans
- piece of nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp Chipotle powder (optional; for a slight kick)
- 1 cups brandy
- 1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar
**I pitted the cherries first. The NK site calls for them to be unpitted; however, I prefer not to have to handle the pit later…I will take whatever difference in taste that brings. You can do as you choose…I won’t tell!
I de-stemmed and pitted the cherries, then added them to a jar with the cinnamon stick, vanilla bean (I split it open first) and nutmeg.
Heat the sugar along with 1/2 cup of the brandy to dissolve the sugar. Do not overheat or the alcohol will cook off. Off heat, add in the rest of the brandy and pour this mixture over the cherries. Close up the jar and let it sit for 1 month (up to 6 weeks) in a bright area, shaking to mix once a day; then move to a dark cupboard/pantry. Use within 1 year.