I can reveal that the cherry brandy I made in the summer is delicious and dangerously moreish. We really enjoyed the odd tipple over Christmas. Let’s hope for a good cherry season next year.
The drained cherries are not going to waste either. Some of them became truffles, some were simply dipped in melted chocolate and the rest are in the freezer waiting to be added to pavlovas and black forest gateau type desserts throughout the year.
Cherry brandy has always been one of my favourite tipples. I remember it being in the drinks cabinet when I was young and enjoying the sweet smell of it in my mum’s glass. It’s probably very 1970’s to admit to such a thing.
I have made damson gin or vodka lots of times thanks to our tree but I didn’t think I would get the chance to make my own cherry brandy. But the delivery of a crate of cherries from our friend made it a very tempting possibility.
It’s very easy, but you do need a large jar with a well-fitting lid, so that you don’t have a disaster when it comes to the shaking of the jar bit.
One of my favourite uses of cherry brandy now is to add a good slug to our regular cup of hot chocolate in the evening. Now there’s a sign of our age and present mentality.
I used a litre of brandy because I had so many cherries to get through, but you can half the quantities for a 50cl bottle. I used light coloured cherries so if you use dark cherries the colour of the resulting brandy will be deeper.
1 kg cherries
1 litre brandy (I used the cheapest bottle on the shelf)
Find a jar that has a tight-fitting lid that is large enough to take the cherries and the liquid.
Prick the cherries several times and place into the jar. If you prick them over the jar you capture most of the juice, although it is a very good idea to wear old clothes and an apron. My formerly white ceiling bears testament to how far cherry juice can travel. Add the sugar and the brandy. Fit the lid, I then sellotape it to make extra sure of a tight fit. Give the jar a good shake. Place the jar somewhere where you will see it daily to remind you to shake every day for the next week. After that shake once a week for the next two months, tasting it occasionally to see if it is cherry enough for you. Once it is, strain back into sterile bottles. You can now drink it or if you can bear it leave it for 12 months to mature. I plan to use the cherries in a chocolate dessert. It would be a shame to waste them.
This was another of my contributions to my Dad’s birthday pudding bonanza. It’s a flourless creation, which means that my gluten-intolerant sister can enjoy it. I really like Black Forest gâteau, and anything with cherries and cherry brandy in it is always a big hit with me. So I opted to add these, but you could add Marron Glaces for a chestnutty treat or just opt for the simpler (but nearly as delicious) chocolate and cream combo.
When I rolled it, I had as usual added far too much filling and it all oozed out. But, actually I like it this way, it makes it look a lot more decadent and that can never be a bad thing, surely?
For the roulade (recipe from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course):
A swiss roll tin (a shallow sided tray) measuring 29cm x 18cm, greased and lined with baking parchment.
Whisk the egg yolks until they begin to thicken, then add the sugar and whisk again until the mixture thickens a little more, but you don’t want it to be too thick. Add the cocoa powder and mix until combined. In a very clean bowl whisk the egg whites until they make soft peaks. Add one-third of the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture to loosen the mixture and then carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites, retaining as much air as possible. Carefully pour this mixture into the tin and lift the tin to spread the mixture evenly.
Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or on the middle shelf of the Aga’s Baking Oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until the cake is springy to touch. Leave it in the cake tin to cool.
Make the chocolate ganache:
225g (8oz) good quality dark chocolate
225ml double cream
Cherry Brandy (to taste, I tend to put a good swig in, I know that isn’t very scientific, but keep on tasting until it suits you)
Chop the chocolate finely and place in a shallow and long dish. Heat the cream in a saucepan until just under boiling point. Pour the cream over the chocolate and leave to melt for a few moments. Stir gently until well combined and then add the cherry brandy to taste.
Softly whip 200ml of double cream and drain a can of cherries.
Place a fresh piece of baking parchment on the worktop, it should be a little bigger than the cake. Dust this with cocoa powder and turn the cake onto it. Peel off the baking parchment from the bottom of the cake. Spread the chocolate ganache over and then dot with the cherries.
Spread the softly whipped cream on top and then taking hold of one the shorter edges of baking parchment use this to roll the cake over to make a log. If the filling oozes out, don’t worry just use a knife to spread it back onto the ends of the roulade. If the cake cracks then that’s a bonus part of its appeal.
Enjoy in thick slices.
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