How to make Brandied Cherries
2 cups simple syrup 6 cups pitted dark sweet cherries 2 cups vodka 2 cups brandy 1 vanilla bean 1 large cinnamon stick 4-6 whole cloves 4-6 whole allspice
Makes 1 quart Brandied Cherries.
Bring sugar and water to boil, then boil 1 minute. Place cherries, vodka, brandy, 1 cup of the simple syrup and allspice, if using, in glass/ceramic storage container of at least 4 quart capacity. Cap tightly or cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let steep in cool, dark place 3 weeks, swirling mixture around in container every 3 days. Try not to sneak too many...
After 3 weeks, drain cherries in coarse sieve, set over wide mouthed container. Press gently but firmly with back of large spoon to extract as much liquid as possible; set liquid aside, place cherries in jars, 2/3 of the way full. Strain liquied through sieve lined with dampened cheesecloth into clean container. Strain it a second time: set coffee filter (or double thick, dampened cheesecloth) over clean container. Pour liquid through; when filtered to desired clarity taste for sweetness. Adjust to taste with up to 1 cup additional simple syrup.
Now use liquid to cover cherries in jars. Pour any remaining liquor into clean gift jars/bottles. Cover tightly. Let both cherries and/or liquor age 4 to 6 weeks in cool, dark place.
I just noticed that Brandied Cherries is the featured recipe on Sweet Preservation - a site sponsored by Washington State Fruit Commission and Northwest Cherries. Admittedly - their recipe is easier. All in, making brandied cherries is simple and worth it: great gifts, ice cream topping, the quintessential garnish for your Manhattan cocktail... trust me: these cherries are worth putting on top.