Let’s face it, there’s not much romance in a sour cherry until you sweeten it. Montmorency cherries in the front yard are ripe, hot pink and ready for action. Passers by are tempted to try them, and they do, but there should be a warming sign: Eat at your own risk, these babies are sour! Pits conveniently left behind, we pick them by the gallon, juice running down our arms, all over our hands until we’re sticky with the nectar that makes these cherries sing. Half gallon containers go into the freezer, others into our bellies, usually that very night.
Sour as can be, they’re perfect for cherry pie and I have to say that’s their calling. But this year I’ve also made classic Cherries Jubilee with these tart sweethearts. Easy and delicious enough as is, the glam factor skyrockets when you add a splash of alcohol and flame at the last moment. Whoosh, suddenly dessert is an event. Maybe not on a Tuesday night, but on Saturday night, go for it. Instant jubilation.
Cherries Jubilee Recipe
Ingredients: 4 C sour cherries, pitted/ 2 T butter/ 1/2 C brown sugar/ Pinch of salt/ A squeeze of lemon juice and 1 t lemon zest/ Vanilla ice cream
Directions: Melt butter, add sugar and stir until well dissolved/ Add cherries and simmer gently for 8 – 10 minutes, allowing juices to reduce and cherries to soften/ Remove from heat, add a tablespoon of bourbon, brandy, kirsch, a cherry-based brandy, or I used Cointreau, an orange-based spirit/ Return to heat and simmer for 2 more minutes/ Off heat, stir in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and the teaspoon of zest/ Allow to cool and serve over vanilla ice cream.
For the drama, add liquor to the cherry mixture off heat, return to the heat and dip pan slightly toward the flame of a gas burner, or use a lighter to ignite the liquor. If you’re not used to this, be careful, stand back. Once the alcohol is ignited it will burn bright blue for just a few moments. In daylight it’s difficult to see, but in the dark the brief flaming can be dramatic. A classic, easy seasonal dessert. Not flamboyant, just delicious, until you add fire to the fuel.
More sour cherry recipes: Montmorency Cherry Joy,