Fresh cherries simmered in red wine make an easy and unusual dessert, a very European way to end a meal. If you have Golden Rainier cherries, substitute white wine. Enjoy these cherries over our Sour Cream Pound Cake, atop ice cream, or with a dollop of mascarpone - or serve them on their own in a pretty dish with an almond cookie on the side.
red wine (any variety you like will work)
vanilla bean (optional)
1 ½ lb
fresh sweet cherries (stemmed and pitted)
1 ½ Tbsp
fresh lemon juice
Place the wine and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
Using a vegetable peeler, shave 2 or 3 wide strips of zest from the orange and lemon, taking care not to remove the bitter white pith. Add the strips of zest to the wine along with the vanilla bean, if using. Add the cherries and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat. Let the cherries sit in the liquid for 4 or 5 minutes, then transfer them with a slotted spoon to a medium-size bowl and allow to cool completely.
Discard the strips of citrus zest, but return the vanilla bean (if using) to the wine mixture. Cook the poaching liquid over medium-high heat until it reduces to 1-1/4 cups, about 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.
Let the wine syrup cool to room temperature. Once it's cool, stir in the lemon juice, then pour the syrup over the cherries. Cover tightly and refrigerate until cold. The cherries will keep under refrigeration for several days.