She implores Heather to try one and when she does, her eyes widen similarly. Could these cherries have been picked from some magical grove on Mount Olympus? When the server comes back, they ask what the deal is. As it turns out, these were no ordinary cherries--they were brandied cherries.
Heather and I have since enjoyed them when we go to nicer bars and order Manhattans and whatnot. We always notice them right away and get excited. It's like Christmas morning. They are a little smaller than normal cherries with a dark color--almost black. That black color lets you know that the cherry is saturated with delicious sweet brandy.
Every time we have them, we swear that we are going to figure out how to do this ourselves. Well ladies and gentleman, talk is cheap and we are lazy people by nature. It's been a couple years since the discovery and we still haven't done anything. Well all that's about to change. We did some research and bought the ingredients and are ready to go. We would have done it sooner but we were so close to cherry season that it would have been a crime not to wait a few weeks.
Many of the recipes out there include a lot of ingredients and spices but we opted for one that emphasized simplicity. We got it off a website called saveur.com. We also liked the recipe because it did not require any complicated canning techniques. One day we will learn how to properly can things, but it is not this day.
adapted from saveur.com
-2 cups sugar
-4 cups brandy
-2 lbs. fresh sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
Dissolve sugar in brandy in a sterilized 2-3-quart glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Add cherries. Cover jar and allow cherries to macerate in the refrigerator for 6 weeks. To serve, pour some of the brandy into a small glass and add a few cherries. Cherries will keep, refrigerated for up to 1 year.
We halved the recipe for our purposes. One pound of cherries is a lot of cherries. I was nervous about being able to dissolve sugar into the brandy. I just know that when I try to stir granulated sugar into my iced tea at a restaurant, it floats around for a minute and then sinks to the bottom. I don't want all my sweetness at the bottom of my brandy solution where the floating cherries can't get to it. I want it working on those cherries for a month and a half. As it turns out, my concerns were unfounded. It took some doing, but it wasn't as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I stirred until I got bored then let it sit and then stirred again. A cup of sugar became a half cup, then a quarter cup, than a smaller fraction and soon it was gone.
I recognize that this is a very simple recipe, but if it turns out well, who knows? We might start branching out and getting fancy with the spices. I hope that the cherries will obtain that much coveted dark color. If not, I'll try another tact. You can't keep a good scientist down. If anyone out there has any insight about brandying cherries, please leave a comment. And please stay tuned to the blog. These babies will be brandy soaked and ready to go by about the second week of August, just in time for my birthday. (The 13th if anyone's interested.)