There’s nothing more I love to create than food gifts, especially this time of year. In my opinion, a little something homemade says so much more than a trinket bought at a store. One of my favorite gifts to give during the holidays are brandied cherries and not just any brandied cherries mind you, but cardamom brandied cherries. These bites of pure sweet tempting indulgence are a beautiful blend of bold sweet dark cherry flavor, a touch of aromatic cardamom, and smooth brandy perfect just by themselves, for a whisky cocktail on a cold night, or to create the ultimate adult ice cream sundae.
Surprise Chocolate Pie
Speaking of food gifts, while I was making a batch of these cherries the other day, my daughter flung open the front door and ran into the kitchen. With her eyes full of excitement and an enormous smile on her face she began to tell me about the most amazing day she had just had at school. She said that a classmate’s mom had come to the class to teach everyone about holiday customs in South Korea and she wore the most beautiful dress she had ever seen and even brought the class chocolate pie. The exact definition of a good day is one with chocolate pie in it… at least in my book. So, I asked her how was the pie? In her most straight forward and logical voice she says, “Oh, it was really good or at least the bite that I stole from my friend’s pie was good.” I responded, “Okay, we’ll get to the stealing part later but what happened to your pie? Did you not get any?” Then she says something so frightening that it still makes quiver. “Oh, I got some alright and it’s a surprise! You’ll find out on Christmas morning!”
That was last week and I still have 12 days till Christmas with no sight of the chocolate pie. I haven’t smelled it yet so there’s a good possibility that it’s currently stashed in her locker. Y’all, I’m now scared to open any presents under my tree. Wish me luck.
Cardamom Brandied Cherries
These sweet luxurious cardamom brandied cherries are the perfect treat to keep on hand or to give as a gift. I’ve given these as gifts for years now and I always make sure to keep a jar for myself. It all starts with getting your hands a little dirty and pitting some cherries.
Next, lightly toast a few cardamom pods in a pot until fragrant.
Then create a simple syrup by simmering cherry juice (which can be easily made by blending thawed frozen cherries into a puree and straining the juice from the solids), sugar, and cardamom for a few minutes. Once the syrup has cooled slightly, add brandy and the pitted cherries.
Finish these beauties off by packing them in jars with the syrup and storing them in the refrigerator.
There’s plenty of alcohol in these boozy cherries that they will keep for months but I’ve never had that problem — they empty out quite fast. And just in case you’re wondering, these aren’t for the kiddos so keep them out of reach.
Pop one in your mouth for a delicious pick-me-up or eat them the way I do, in a Manhattan. Cheers!
Manhattan Recipe : 2oz Rye Whisky, 1oz Sweet Vermouth, 3 dashes Angostura Bitters, Cocktail Cherry. In a large glass or shaker with ice, stir the whisky, vermouth, and bitters until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a Luxardo or one of these delicious cardamom brandied cherries.
Cardamom Brandied Cherries are bites of sweet cherry indulgence with a touch of aromatic cardamom and smooth brandy, perfect for a gift or a delicious treat.
- 1 1/2 pounds ripe cherries
- 8 cardamom pods
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cherry juice* or water
- 1 1/2 cup brandy
- Using a cherry pitter, remove the seeds from the cherries and discard.
- Lightly crush the cardamom pods with the palm of your hand to expose the inner seeds. In a medium sized pot over medium heat, toast the pods until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the pods.
- To the pot, add sugar and cherry juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add brandy and cherries, stir, and cool completely.
- Once cooled, pack cherries (making sure that cardamom pods are equally dispersed between jars) in sterilized sealable glass jars. This will make 4 pint-sized jars or 8 1/2-pint jars (as pictured). Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.**
* A Note About Cherry Juice: Creating this syrup with cherry juice makes these cherries amazing! Cherry juice is not typically found in stores so to create cherry juice, simply defrost a bag of frozen cherries, puree in the blender until smooth, then strain the solids from the juice. Having that said, 1/2 cup of water can be substituted for cherry juice.
** Due to the high alcohol content, these do not need to be canned. Store in sealed glass jars in the refrigerator. As long as the cherries are covered by the syrup they can last for months. Additional brandy can be added if syrup depletes over time.