Sweet dark cherries simmered in ruby port wine with a hint of star anise and cinnamon is the ideal topping for a perfect ending dessert. Serve over ice cream, as a filling for éclairs, or a spread for cheesecake.
1 cup ruby port
¾ cup sugar
1 lb fresh or frozen pitted cherries
1 cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon ground star anise
5 teaspoons cornstarch
5 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Small saucepan, cherry pitter (or paring knife), plastic gloves, plastic cutting board
Prepare the cherries:
Pit the cherries using a cherry pitter or paring knife. To use a paring knife, cut around the circumference of the cherry, pull the halves apart and remove pit.
[Chef’s note: Cherry juice will stain. Use care when pitting the cherries by using plastic gloves, cutting boards and frequently wiping up juice spills on your counter.]
Make the sauce:
Combine the port wine and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cherries, cinnamon stick and star anise and simmer for 5–10 minutes until the mixture reduces and starts to become syrupy.
[Chef’s note: If using frozen cherries, you might need to simmer a bit longer to defrost the cherries and reduce the resulting water.]
Mix the cornstarch and water together to make a slurry, stirring until completely dissolved. Add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce and bring to boil. Reduce the heat, and continue to simmer until the mixture is thick and shiny. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Serve over your favorite ice cream or creamy rice pudding. The sauce can also be spread over cheesecake.
For a great homemade Cherries Jubilee Ice Cream, bring a quart of good-quality vanilla bean ice cream to room temperature, mix the Cherry Port Sauce with the ice cream and place back into a freezer-safe container. Freeze 24 hours, then serve.
Recipe and photo by Lia Soscia