One blog that I read on a regular basis is David Lebovitz's blog. You cannot go wrong with someone who has written numerous books on the subject of dessert and worked with Alice Waters. It was his recent post on cherry compote that caught my attention, especially when he began the post claiming to have an affliction with buying too much Summer fruit when in season. Mentally, my hand went up, guiltily, when I read that sentence, looking over the computer screen to the bowl of fruit on the table that was (and is) overflowing with plums (three varieties), nectarines, and peaches. And let's not forget how I feel about cherries. I get excited when cherry season arrives. I always buy large amounts with big plans on making something truly special with them. But then...I find myself standing at the kitchen counter, my hand repeatedly dipping into the bowl and eating one after another, after another...after another. More times than not, I find myself with a pile of cherry pits, stained fingers, and nothing made from those glorious ruby orbs.
This Summer was looking like there would be no cherry-centric recipes made as I was on my third bowl of cherries and I still hadn't made it past the eating stage. Then, I came across David's recipe. Looking at the photos he posted, all I could imagine was spooning cherry compote over vanilla ice cream. Let me tell you...since I caught strep throat last month, ice cream has been a consistent resident in my freezer. You know...it soothed the pain of an awful sore throat. Well...then it did. Now, it just makes me happy.
Get out your cherry pitter (or chopstick), pit some cherries, and make this. Be sure the vanilla ice cream is in the freezer and ready for it.
Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz
Makes a little over a cup
2 cups cherries, pitted
1/4 cup pure cane sugar
2 capfuls Irish whiskey (optional)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pit the cherries and add to a large saucepan. Make sure any juice from the cherries winds up in the pan too. Add the sugar, extract, and whiskey. Over medium heat, cook all the ingredients, until the cherries begin to break down. Occasionally check the progress, since the cooking will cause the cherries and liquid to foam. Since this isn't a large amount of cherries, it shouldn't be a problem if your pan is large enough. Cook until the fruit breaks down a considerable amount and all the flavors have mingled (about 20-25 minutes). Allow to cool for a few minutes before storing or topping ice cream.
Notes: I used a chopstick to pit the cherries. It takes a little getting used to, but once you find a rhythm, it gets easier. It's a little messy, but worth it. Be sure to catch any juice from the cherries (there will be some). I literally used 2 capfuls of whiskey, so if you're looking for an exact measurement, I'll guess it's close to two tablespoons. Amaretto is another option to use, giving you a double punch of almond if you also use the almond extract, though you could substitute vanilla extract if amaretto is used.