It’s nearly impossible to return from the market without baskets and baskets of berries in various forms this time of year. I’m not the only shopper in the family who falls for their brilliant hues and sweet perfume that lures you in from yards away, my husband is easily wooed too – I adore that about him.
Last week it was blueberries. He had just returned home from the store when I spotted a heap of large, tight-skinned berries on my counter. My immediate thought was cake. No, wait – pie! No. A crumble! Yes. A crumble. Hmm. But a cobbler would be nice too. Then I ate one thinking it may further help seal their fate. It did, but not in the way I was expecting. I stood there in the kitchen eating those berries until there were only a few left, stopping for the sake of my berry-loving children.
It is often my instinct to see something like a pint of fresh berries and to immediately concoct an elaborate plan. Most likely these plans involve butter, a lot of butter. But as I stood there in my kitchen shoving blueberries into my mouth I couldn’t have imagined a better way of enjoying them. Covered in a smooth, firm skin, crowded with little leaves and soft stems, still warm in a just picked sort of a way with an endearing tartness that I adore. Sure, a pie would have been nice but often simplicity has a way of showing off one’s true character. It’s honest, unpretentious and gratifying. There will still be cakes, pie, crumbles and crisps but it is great to be reminded that sometimes eating berries straight out of their green composite container is really the best recipe.
Days later a large wooden crate of cherries arrived at my doorstep (a gift from a local farm). I’m not (too) embarrassed to say that I took the crate in its entirety with me to the couch where I sat there and stopped just shy of eating its entire contents. This time is was the fear of not sharing these beauties with you people that caused the cherry feasting to end. I didn’t think you’d be satisfied with a recipe that instructed you to eat cherries alone on a couch (or in bed – I ate them there too). But I couldn’t bring myself to poach, roast, bake or even pickle these berries. They were far too perfect in shape, flavor and color. The best way to enjoy them was just out of the crate.
That is until I decided to give them a bit of a dip in melted white chocolate blended with a fragrant vanilla bean. Still simple but dressed up enough to be called dessert. Everything I loved about these cherries remained intact – a crisp bite of a pinkish skin that yielded to a bright, tart interior. As a young girl in a dress suddenly stands up taller with a bit more confidence and grace as she instantly feels more like a princess so were these cherries in their sweet, vanilla scented dress. A gentle and subtle addition to accentuate their honest beauty and simplicity.
Classic Amaretto Sour
Newly married, Amaretto Sour was our drink of choice. I think it made us feel grown up then. Now we drink them because they taste so darn good. We’ve matured in many ways over the years with one of them being the banishment of pre-made sweet and sour. With only two ingredients this cocktail mixes together (a little too) quickly and easily. These vanilla and white chocolate cherries add a layer of sweetness and invade your senses before you even taste the cocktail. Each drink really should have two – one for eating immediately and the other for lingering until the last sip.
1 ounce Amaretto
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 white chocolate dipped cherries
Rim an old fashioned glass with lemon and dip into sugar. Shake the amaretto and lemon juice then pour over ice. Garnish with cherries.
White Chocolate Covered Cherries
White Chocolate Dipped Cherries with Vanilla Bean
The cherries I dipped were a rare type called Orondo. Darker and sweeter than a Rainier, lighter and tangier than a Bing. Really, the perfect cherry. If you can’t get a hold of these beauties I’d take Rainier over Bing any day.
This recipe is quite rough. Essentially you melt white chocolate, stir in vanilla seeds and dip cherries. I gave rough numbers for those who like them.
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 vanilla bean, split with seeds scraped
1 pound cherries
In a small bowl melt chopped chocolate in a microwave or over a bowl of simmering water. If using the microwave only heat for 20 second intervals, stirring in between each. Once melted, stir in vanilla seeds. Reserve the bean to add to you sugar jar or simmer in simple syrup for cocktail or lemonade making.
Dip the clean cherries into the melted white chocolate. Place on a parchment covered tray and refrigerate until firm or ready to eat.