We all make mistakes. We say something stupendously stupid, overly state our opinions, or simply voice a disagreement that sets off a domino effect of uncomfortable feelings and awkward moments that take a painfully long time to evaporate. I’ve done it. I have friends who have done it. I’m sure a few of you have done it as well. It’s difficult to feel the return of equilibrium after something like that. But, eventually, in most cases, it arrives. Sometimes, our various opinions make our relationships with one another closer. We suddenly see things from the other side and figure out a way to work together despite our differences. That’s how things should be, anyway.
Similarly, this recipe was born out of a disagreement, out of ingredients that didn’t even know they were meant to be together. This dessert was not a mistake, per se, but it did fall into place by total accident. Kahlua, Marsala, ginger snaps and cherries? Trust me. Match made in heaven.
When I began making the dessert, I knew I wanted a combination of cherries and whipped cream. When I started rummaging through the cabinets at my in-laws who have graciously allowed me to raid their kitchen shelves, my eye caught a bottle of Kahlua. Cherries and Kahlua? Um, yes please! After doing a little more digging, I found a bottle of Marsala, a sweet Italian wine used often times in savory and sweet dishes. With my main ingredients all together, it was time to get cookin’!
I started with fresh Rainer Cherries from Washington. Pitting cherries is a little time consuming, but totally worth it for the fresh flavor. While I was busy pitting the cherries, I simmered the Kahlua, Marsala, and brown sugar together. When all the cherries were free of seeds, I added them to the syrup and simmered them in the Kahlua mixture for about 10 minutes. The cherries maintained some of their fresh juiciness but took on a more velvety texture and the rich coffee flavor of the Kahlua. The Marsala adds a gently sweet, dry flavor that counters the sugar beautifully.
This wonderfully flavorful dessert can be made ahead- just reheat the cherries before serving. It could be served at room temperature or even cold, but it is much better warm. Plus, I put two ginger snap cookies at the bottom of each dish. The ginger snaps soak up the warm crimson syrup and become soft. The ginger flavor then permeates the cherries and gives a nice overall bite to the dish. Kahlua Cherries with Whipped Cream & Ginger Snaps
Makes 4 servings
About 1 1/2-2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted (or 2 cups frozen cherries, thawed and strained)
1 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup Marsala
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
For the whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
In a medium saucepan, combine the Kahlua, Marsala, brown sugar and regular sugar. Stir over high heat until boiling, then reduce the heat so the mixture simmers for about 3 minutes. Add the pitted cherries to the syrup and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whip the whipping cream with an electric mixer (or by hand if you are very brave) until it just begins to thicken. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and continue to mix until soft peaks form. Set aside.
Next, in the bottom of each serving dish, place two ginger snaps. When the cherries are done, use a slotted spoon and scoop on top of the ginger snaps (about 1/2 cup of cherries for each person). Next, ladle a small amount of the syrup over the cherries (about 2 tablespoons per serving).
Lastly, place a generous dollop of whipped cream over the cherries and top with another ginger snap and a little extra syrup if desired. Enjoy!