Need an interesting touch for a drink or dessert? Candied bourbon cherries are flavored with orange, star anise, peppercorns, and a hit of booze.
Cherries are one fruit that generally does not need any embellishment. Maybe there are some tart ones here or there, great for making a summer pie. But as a rule, you can pop one out of a bag, pull off the stem and toss into your mouth. It's just the pit that is the pits!
Bourbon cherries are one of those treats that have so many uses and are handy to have in the fridge. Easy to make and with a full-flavored profile, they can make anything singular and memorable.
Candy the cherries
Carefully pit the cherries. Being very picky when it comes to pitting cherries, I make sure that there isn't one lurking in the bottom of the saucepan. Then add the sugar, zest, juice, vanilla bean, and sachet filled with spices.
Give everything a stir and put over medium-high heat. It takes about 30 minutes for the cherries to cook as they release their juice and the sugar dissolves. You are cooking the fruit until the juice turns syrupy, about 30 minutes. Let the fruit cool for 10-15 minutes. If you prefer, the bourbon can be omitted. The candied cherries are still the bomb!
If you want the bourbon, add it when the cherries are still warm. It will permeate the fruit. I like to use a bourbon that has a little fruitiness.
The sky is the limit! Do you have a dessert that needs a little kick? A really creamy vanilla ice cream would be delicious with some cherries and the juice.
How about cocktails? Make a Manhattan unique with one of the bourbon cherries. How about some sparkling wine such as prosecco? Add a twist of lemon and enjoy the bubbles.
Have a container of candied bourbon cherries in your fridge and you will find plenty of uses for them!
- cheesecloth and string
- 1 ½ pounds cherries pitted
- 5 strips orange zest
- 4 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 star anise
- 6 peppercorns
- 1 vanilla bean
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons Bourbon something fruity like Maker's Mark
- Add the star anise and peppercorns to a fold 4x4 inch piece of cheesecloth. Make sure there aren't any holes the spices can fall out of. With a piece of string secure and tie the cheesecloth.
- Add the pitted cherries, orange juice and zest, sugar, and vanilla bean to a saucepan. Nestle the sachet in the pan so that it will be covered in the juice as the fruit cooks.
- Cook over medium-high heat for approximately 30 minutes. The juices will have thickened and will be syrupy. Let cool for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes and while the cherries are still warm, add the bourbon. Stir to combine. Let the cherries continue to cool.