Recipe: Chocolate shortcakes with brandied cherries
MAKE PLENTY: These won't last. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Note: From Noelle Carter. The shortcakes are best served warmed with whipped crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of the reserved brandied cherries in their sauce.
1 pound dried tart cherries
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups brandy
1 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup amaretto
1/4 cup orange liqueur, preferably Cointreau
1/2 vanilla bean
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
Zest of 1 small orange
1. In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the cherries with the sugar, brandy, wine, amaretto and orange liqueur. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean into the pan, and combine with the other ingredients. Place the vanilla pod, cinnamon, peppercorns and orange zest in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie together to make a sachet (this will make it easier to discard once the cherries have been brandied). Place the sachet in the saucepan.
2. Bring the cherries to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Strain the cherries from the liquid and set aside. Discard the sachet. Bring the liquid back to a simmer and continue to cook until it has thickened to a syrup and reduced to three-fourths cup, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Combine the syrup with the cherries in a non-reactive container. This makes about 3 cups of brandied cherries. Cover and refrigerate until needed; the brandied cherries will keep, refrigerated, for months.