Vanessa Chang
(A Glutton with Brains)


a glutton with brains

Cherry Cordial


Another installation to my cherry resourcefulness. After reading what Ian Knauer's piece on, I felt a tinge of inspiration. It helped that I had an abundance of cherries leftover from Cherry Almond Cake, an upcoming post about Cherry Granita and general consumption. It also helped that there was some booze involved. In this case, some Stolichnaya vodka.

Last year, I had tried the same thing -- taking some cherries, muddling them around a bit in a jar and then adding some alcohol -- to no avail. I had chosen brandy and thought it would turn out rather classy and elegant. By the time I opened up for a celebratory sip at Thanksgiving, I had discovered I could make cough syrup.

Ian Knauer's piece went for vodka. His fruit came from an abundance of wild cherries he discovered on a walk. "Almost black," he wrote. Mine weren't foraged, but rather bartered for my meager cash at the Farmers' Market and were deep mahogany, soft and glossy. I wasn't sure if the wild specimens he found were the sour or sweet variety. The Bings were staring at me in the face and I couldn't forsake them just to find fresh sour cherries that are a rare find in my part of the world. In the article's comment string, one lucky reader posted about her amarena (sour cherry) tree outside her house. I sighed, shrugged my shoulders and then reached for the vodka.


A Spontaneous Cherry Cordial

This isn't a recipe, more like a conversation over the fence, if I had a fence and a neighbor who would actually talk to me. Nevertheless, I consider you my neighbor for now. Here's what you do.

Take a few cherries (sour or sweet) -- perfect for the battered, bruised and juicy ones, the inevitable casualties from the market or a foraging expedition -- and with an actual muddler, a rolling pin end or in my case, the handle of a bamboo rice paddle, smash them around to break up the fruit and release the juices. I mean it. That's it. Seeds and all.

Pour in enough vodka to fill your jar, container or whatever you're going have the fruit hang out in. Give it a shake after sealing it tightly. Leave it alone for a week or two, paying attention to it every couple of days to give it a shake. I have it standing with my other bottles of booze to influence its maceration and progress. See that framboise? It's from Bonny Doon and it is SO good. Can you be that good? Then open up the jar and give it a whiff.

The vodka plays well with the cherries, not asserting itself, just hanging out in the background and providing a kick right at the end of the sip. 

Before you serve it, I've taken to straining the pulp and seeds

I have visions of flambéeing the mixture after it's been spooned over a simple, butter cake. Or better yet — drenching a chocolate layer cake. Or sipping the stuff by the fire from small elegant glasses I have yet to buy. (I also envision the very likely possibility that the consumption of the stuff will most likely neither elegant, nor show-stopping, but that's what day dreams are for.)

Doesn't matter. For now, I'm making the stuff of memories and when it comes time to open up the a jar/bottle alone or with friends, I'll take another whiff and think or say aloud, Remember that time in the summer when I bought way too many cherries? Yeah, this was a good idea.