Yankee Bill’s favorite dessert in the whole entire world is cherry pie-made of course with sour “pie” cherries, not that overly sweet goop that they sell in the can. So every once in a while on a special occasion we buy a couple of jars of Montmorency cherries in syrup and whip up a pie*. Isn’t it sort of nice to still have a few things that we only have occasionally as a treat? I think we have lost something by being able to eat anything we want year round–but that’s another post.
It takes 2 jars to make a nice deep pie, and once you drain them you are left with an entire jar worth of juice (which is really the syrup they canned it in-a mixture of water and sugar that has leached the cherry juices out of the cherries as they were processed). Well, you can’t waste all that!
I used one cup as the “cold liquid” in a batch of jello, but tonight I will be using the rest (with plenty left over to last a few days) in my favorite way-to make Cherry Sauce!
It’s simple, and almost not even a recipe. You simply reserve out a small amount (about 2 TBS to 1/4 C for those of you who MUST have amounts-that is assuming you have around 2 C of juice) then put the rest in a pot and warm it. Depending on how sweet it already is you may chose to add additional sweetener (or to use an Amy D trick and add a 1/4 tsp of baking soda to cut the acid and make it taste sweeter), I also like to add a capful (literally-I just use the cap) of almond flavoring, as it intensifies the “cherry” taste. If you want it to be extra special you can even reserve some of the cherries from the pie to use in the sauce.
Now dissolve about a TBS of cornstarch in the cold (or room temp) reserved cherry juice. Make sure there are no lumps and that it is completely dissolved. Then add it to the hot juice and stir until thick. NEVER ADD CORNSTARCH DIRECTLY TO A WARM LIQUID. It will just lump up, look gross, and not thicken your sauce. Also remember-as Alton Brown on “Good Eats” (love that show) points out, thickeners don’t do their full job until they are brought to a boil. The sauce will be thicker when cool than it is when it is hot-but you want to be able to see that it has approximately the consistency of maple syrup before you consider it “done”.
If you you didn’t get enough corn starch in the first time, then you can add more using as small an amount of cold water (or another juice like apple if you have it) to dissolve the corn starch in before adding it. Just remember that too much water will start to dilute the cherry flavor, so use the smallest amount necessary to make the corn starch dissolve completely into a liquid “slurry”.
If you are in a bind you can do the same thing with flour as with cornstarch, but you can get that “floury” taste, (yum, paste) if you use too much, and it won’t give you that clear gel look-it will make it cloudy and sort of a pastel color.
Photo by roswitha-schacht
Use this sauce over ice cream, pound cake, or anything else you can think of. I don’t know how long it lasts in the fridge because it doesn’t last very long around here.
*NOTE-This last time with a store bought frozen crust I must admit-I still haven’t tried the Bulk Pie Crust recipe for the freezer recipe–soon I promise, we are getting close to berry season here in Upstate NY