When I was a little girl, the big treat that boys would give to girls they liked was chocolate-covered cherries. In those days they were most likely sweetened Maraschino cherries covered with milk chocolate. I always wanted a boy to give a box of them to me, but the standard had changed by the time I was old enough to date.
Some days I think about those candies, and wonder if I would still like them today. And thanks to the Secret Recipe Club, I have a chance – in a manner of speaking.
This month I was lucky to be assigned The Weekend Gourmet blog written by Wendy, where she shares her adventures in the kitchen and on the road. Wendy is a native Texan living in San Antonio. There is a huge tradition of hospitality and great food in Texas and I am sure that Wendy throws one heck of a party. You just have to take a look at her blog to know that!
Wendy loves cooking, good wine (especially Champagne), great restaurants, and culinary travel. She love having a good time and laughing … I know if we ever have a chance to meet in person, we will spend the entire time laughing, eating and sipping wine!!
Today’s recipe is a sauce made with a classic flavor combination and served over ice cream in a parfait. Wendy’s original recipe was made with strawberries, her favorite, which is delicious and only takes about 15 minutes to cook down. But since I am making this in summer, I switched to fresh cherries, which are in season and gorgeous. When I saw them at the market, I just couldn’t resist! They did take longer to cook, but it was worth the wait!
Wendy serves hers with frozen yogurt, a wonderful low fat, healthy option. I am not a fan of frozen yogurt so I chose to serve it with strawberry ice cream. Isn’t the pink and red beautiful together! You can use any flavor you like, of either frozen yogurt or ice cream to create the dessert of your dreams!
The addition of chocolate chips took this right over the edge for me. It was the combination of cherry and chocolate, a classic match that was surely made in heaven.
I made two versions – one in a bowl, which is basically a sundae, and one in a glass that is the perfect for parfaits. Beautiful to look at either way, the taller glass is a more dramatic presentation perfect for parties.
Oh. My. Goodness. You are going to LOVE this! A little tart, a little sweet. The cool and creamy ice cream, the soft and luscious fruit, and the surprising chunks of chocolate make the perfect dessert for any time of the year, but especially on hot summer nights. WOW!
Thank you Wendy for a fabulous recipe and the inspiration. I know it would be equally as good made with fresh strawberries as you did, but I am thrilled that the cherries were in season and I got to substitute them.
This is naturally gluten-free!
Kitchen Skill: Pitting Cherries
There is a tool you can buy called a cherry pitter that will make this task much easier and quicker.This is one implement that I think is worth buying and storing during the off-season. They are not too expensive and they make it easy to choose fresh cherries over canned. Another benefit is that it works to pit olives too! If you don’t want to buy a pitter, using a paring knife and prying the pits out works too.
OXO has a version that comes with a splatter guard to help protect your clothes and countertop when using. Cherry juice stains just about anything, so cover up with an apron or chef’s jacket when working with cherries.
- 16 oz finely diced fresh cherries, divided
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup port wine (or orange, apple, or cranberry juice)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste, pure extract or 2 vanilla beans, scraped
- 4 cups strawberry ice cream, frozen yogurt, or other favorite flavor
- 16 tbsp (10 oz) semisweet chocolate chips or shaved chocolate (gluten-free if needed)
- Additional fresh cherries for garnish, optional
- Fresh mint sprigs for garnish, optional
- Place 1/2 the cherries in a medium saucepan. Add the lemon juice, port, sugar, and vanilla. Stir to moisten the sugar and blend the ingredients together. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking at a low boil for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Smash some of the cherries to help them release their juices. An old-fashioned potato masher works great for this!
- Remove from the heat and add in the other half of the cherries. This makes sure that there are some large, chunky, firm pieces in the sauce. Continue cooking the cherries for another 10 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator at least 1 hour and up to 2 or 3 days. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Place 1/2 cup of the ice cream in the bottom of each glass. If you can, use clear glass wine glasses or parfait glasses where you can see the layers. Top the ice cream with 2 tbsp of the strawberry sauce and sprinkle with 2 tbsp of the chocolate chips. Add another 1/2 cup of ice cream to each glass, top with another 2 tbsp of sauce and 2 tbsp of chocolate chips.
- If you want, you can garnish with a whole cherry and a sprig of mint.
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