Comfort food = candied cherries

June 25, 2009

candied_cherries

We (meaning: Tim and I) are under a bit of stress. Our house isn’t selling, and in fact, no one is even looking. I know — this story is a common one at this point in our great democracy with its wonders of capitalism. But it’s not only close to home right now, it is our home, the very home we are packing up and leaving in about 5 weeks.

So what do you do? Well, if you are me, you slip into a comfortable place of not necessarily denial, but perhaps willing suspension of belief. And, you make things to eat.

I’m looking for little bits of happy anywhere I can get them. And in Monday’s produce box, those bits came in the form of organic bing cherries. I had passed on buying a few pounds at Kroger earlier that day, my sacrifice for staying in-budget. And that night, there they were — little orbs of deep-red decadence. We ate a few right then and there, but the whole reason I’d been eyeing them at the grocery was so I could make candied cherries. To put in ice cream. So that we could eat Toasted Almond-Candied Cherry-Fudge Swirl ice cream. Make your head spin? Mine, too. In a good, delirious, forget-potential-financial-disasters sort of way.

Like most things I cook for the first time, I didn’t realize how easy it’d be. No candy thermometer necessary, no watching for ball stages, no corn syrup (although I did use that in the fudge swirl). Just sugar, water, cherries, lemon juice, and a drop (literally) of almond extract. The hardest part was pitting the cherries which — minus the appropriate gadget — I did with a pairing knife, and it took about 10 minutes for a pound. Nice, therapeutic work, while my kids were all napping.

Today I put it all together into the ice cream. Have I used the word decadent already, in this post? We had friends over for dinner, and all had a bowl for dessert. But there’s more in the freezer, and my guess is that I’ll be drowning my worries in a second helping, here in about five.

If your current financial status doesn’t have you mapping out an emergency plan, you might not need to go as far as making the ice cream, which is on the labor-intensive side, with all its many homemade mix-ins.  But if you like cherries, consider buying a pound and trying this. You could stir it into store-bought vanilla or chocolate. And the leftover syrup makes a great topping for both ice cream and plain yogurt.

Next post: a successful first-attempt at homemade mozzarella! (Can you tell that there is apparently a proportional relationship between my stress level and my consumption of dairy?)

Candied Cherries (from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz)

  • 1 pound fresh cherries
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 drop almond extract (careful with this — too much can ruin it)

Stem and pit the cherries. Heat the cherries, water, sugar, and lemon juice in a large saucepan until the liquid starts to boil. Turn down the heat to a low boil and cook the cherries for 25-35 minutes, stirring frequently toward the end to prevent sticking. Once the liquid is the consistency of maple syrup, remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the almond extract. Let the cherries cool in the syrup.

If you’re mixing them in to ice cream, let the cherries drain in a strainer for about an hour (reserve the syrup for another use). Coarsely chop the drained cherries and fold them into 1 quart of softened (or just-churned) ice cream. If not using them right away, they keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

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