Monday, July 14, 2014

Five Ways to Use Cherries

Cherries are aplenty this time of year, which is fine by me. If we had a cherry festival down here in Georgia or Florida, I would eat every cherry thing I could get my hands on. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy them.

1. Make cherry cream cheese or cherry butter. In either choice, it's simply about how sweet you want them, and the amount you use determines the amount of sugar you need. Pit them and toss them into a saucepan either cut up or whole. Start small with the sugar and taste often while you cook them down, adding bits of sugar until they're just right. Cool them and fold them into room temperature cream cheese or butter and wrap them up into a log with plastic wrap or into a seal able container. It really is that simple. If you wanted, you could also just cook the cherries up until they're how you want them to taste, and put them into a container just like that for a sauce or add-in for desserts.

2. Steak. Cherries cooked down in beef broth until they're super soft can start a sauce like no other. Dash in some Worcestershire sauce, then mix a spoon of corn starch with a small amount of cold broth or water and pour it in while the cherries and broth are boiling away. Lower the heat a bit and let it simmer just until thickened how you'd like. You could also make a roux (heat up a fat and add flour, cooking the flour taste out) if you don't have corn starch or don't know quite how it works. When your roux has deepened in color you add in your cherry broth a few spoons at a time while whisking constantly until it's all incorporated and thickening nicely.

3. Coat them with your favorite chocolate. Pit your cherries and toss them in a bowl of tempered chocolate chips or chocolate bar. You just put your chocolate into a bowl and nuke it in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time until the chips or bar are almost all the way melted. You keep stirring for a minute after it comes out of the nuker and it will all melt the rest of the way, trust me. Put coated cherries on wax or parchment paper and let them set. That's all it takes. Got leftover chocolate? Drizzle it over the tops of the dried cherries with a bit of coloring in it, or even just as it is. Flare is good, and so is chocolate, so no waste necessary.

4. Get them drunk. Pick a favorite liquor (use brandy here) and pour it over cherries and sugar in a sealable container and store for a week in the fridge, shaking once per day. Talk about fruit that opens your eyes! Coat them with chocolate and allow it to dry for an even more decadent treat. I'd give you amounts, but the truth is nobody likes them the same way. Go as light or heavy on the sweet as you want, it's your adventure!

5. Cereal, hot or cold. Pit and cut your cherries for use in your favorite cereals and oatmeals. They're always a great tasting addition, and they add nothing but health to your meal. Toss them around in some granola to carry with you if you'd like, because cherries really do keep quite well whether hot or cold.

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