Vanilla Brandied Cherries (with Homemade Vanilla Brandy)

Every holiday season I think and think about posts and new recipes that would be unique. Between bacon sprinkled desserts and shameless self-promotion, the internet around the holiday season leaves me pretty frustrated. So many giveaways, so many e:books, Ah! I really hate to think I fall into that crowd but I’m sure I probably do. I apologize. Although I like to think I am really innovative, inevitably I always end up going back to classics. I really do make the same things every year. I can summarize it simply as German or Pennsylvania Dutch style. Sure the game plan changes with the years, but lets face it I rarely stray very far from what’s “normal.”

In the past I have made preserved cherries jubilee, satisfying and delicious but a bit sugary for my old decaying teeth. I am an on again off again sweets fanatic but booze, I mean brandy is a wonderful way to preserve fruit and add a pop of richness to a variety of dishes. These brandied cherries are really great on yogurt, ice cream or whipped cream, they pair wonderfully with red wine, red meat and of course… decadent chocolate cake with cream.

Cherry desserts are delicious, and especially rare for us. In my family Black Forest Cake is a favorite. We had it as a kid but it was rarely made with real kirschwasser or even real cherries. Most often canned cherry pie filling is used in Black Forest cake and just about anything “cherry.” Does anyone even remember what a real cherry tastes like? It’s a bit of a bummer really. For a really large batch you can use vodka and brown sugar instead of brandy, but for small little jars of good intentions make these: Brandied Cherries with “Homemade” Vanilla Brandy.

These can be given as individual gifts, simply write tags with instructions to when the brandy or the cherries will be at their peak.

– Vanilla Brandy –

  • 6 vanilla beans, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 bottle cheap brandy

Using the dull end of a knife scrape the seeds from the inside of the vanilla beans. Carefully place them into an empty resealable one liter bottle. Toss in the pods and cover brandy until full. Allow to rest at least 30 days, or 6 months if possible.

-Use in Homemade Eggnog, Buttergrog or whatever your favorite holiday beverage is. It really is a delight!

-Brandied Cherries-
  • 4-6 cups pitted cherries
  • 1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • vanilla brandy to cover

Place fresh (or frozen) and dried cherries into a 4 cup mason jar. Cover with brandy. Cover tightly and allow to rest in a cool dark place for 3-6 months. Again the longer the better but they can be prematurely consumed.

These can easily be made into 8 ounce mason jars, perfect for little holiday giveaways !

Homemade Cherry Cordial – Combine into a large resealable container roughly 4 pounds of frozen or fresh pitted cherries with 1-2 cups of dried cranberries or cherries, 2 cups of brown sugar and 2 liters of vodka. Shake vigorously once a day or so for 4-6 weeks. – Add some vanilla beans for flair.