Perfect cherry drizzle on homemade vanilla ice cream
My baby girl easily ate more cherries than she picked!
I spend a lot of time checking out my neighbour Mr M's cherry tree, from the moment is starts budding in the spring to the point where its bursting with cherries. Yes, I am a greedy, avaricious woman, especially when it comes to cherries. My dear neighbour, bless him, told me early on in this season, that I could come by and pick the cherries off his tree. Little did he know that, as soon as he called to let me know that the cherries were ready for picking, I would be there a couple minutes later with five buckets and a couple of little girls to help me pick those ruby red beauties. Poor Mr M! Well, he did say to pick as much as we wanted [pout].
Evans Cherries have got to be the prettiest cherries I've seen. Their beautiful red colour is just gorgeous, and the purest red you can imagine. The riper the cherries get, the more intense the colour becomes. I defy you to look at that absolutely perfect cherry in the picture below and not go 'awwwww'! Well, I did anyway. And the taste is a revelation. The cherries are sour to start with, but the addition of sugar just makes them pop into a myriad of flavours, that are truly divine. And for that matter, these cherries were not even that sour, judging by how many my little girls ate when picking them!
The prettiest cherry in the world
Anyway, to come back to the cherries (like I ever left) Aditi, her friend Sophie and I picked over five bucketfuls, plus the next day I made Kay go over with a stepladder and pick the remaning cherries off the top branches. Together we had about eight bucketfuls, which, let me tell you, is a LOT of cherries. I spent a long night pitting them, and pitted the whole lot in one go. My hand, shoulder and arm were pretty numb at the end of that endeavour, but it was all so worth it to have these beauties frozen away for the approaching long winter.
I froze about three quarters of the cherries, and with the rest I made three pies [yes, I did give one to Mr M, I am not completely selfish :-)] a collection of motley bottles of jam, a cherry syrup to use for cherry lemonade, and this delicious sour cherry drizzle. This drizzle recipe was given to me by my mother-in-law, who used to live on a cherry orchard when she was growing up (and she's got some cherry stories!). It is a super easy and highly versatile recipe, and you can use it for pretty much anything like topping ice creams, cakes and even on your morning cereal or porridge, if you wish!
I had made some homemade vanilla ice cream using David Lebovitz's classic recipe, and I topped it with this warm drizzle. What can I say? Best.Dessert.Ever! The sharp tanginess of the cherries contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the ice cream, and makes it just pop with the intensity of flavours! Truly, a match made in heaven, and dare I say it, it even puts that classic combination of chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream into the shade!
2 cups stemmed and pitted Evans cherries
¾ cup sugar (add more, depending on how sweet you like your drizzle)
3 - 4 drops of almond extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 - 3 tbsp cornstarch
Place the cherries, sugar, almond extract and ground cinnamon in a saucepan. Place the saucepan on medium heat, stirring the mixture every so often, until the cherries release all their juices (around 10 - 12 minutes). There will be quite a lot of juice.
Gently mash the cherries up a bit, leaving a few of them whole. Taste and add more sugar if you like your drizzle sweeter.
Sprinkle over the cornstarch, and cook for an additional 5 minutes or so, until the sauce starts to thicken.
Take off the heat, and leave to cool down a bit before using. This sauce keeps well in the fridge for a few days, or you can also freeze it in small freezer-safe containers. Drizzle over ice creams, cakes or even cereal or porridge.
That tree was simply laden with these plump, red beauties.