Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sweet Honey, Sour Cherries

A frozen dessert hardly seems the way to finish a warm, cozy winter meal. Never the less, a wildflower honey semifreddo sits on my menu. Perhaps it's the "semi" that secures this cold dessert, a perpetual state this city suffers through all winter; Never frozen solid, but always cold.

What this dessert lacks in temperate warmth, it makes up for in richness. Honey, cooked with the smoky Madagascar vanilla bean and rich egg yolks, is folded into softly whipped cream before being moved to the freezer. Because of the invert sugars in honey, the dessert never freezes completely. Always cold, but never frozen solid.

The recipe for the honey semifreddo was introduced to this blog on a sunnier day. Earlier this year, when the summer sun had yet to grow hot, the recipe was given as a perfect foil to summers abundant fruits. Named "frozen wildflower honey mousse" this dessert was covered with a scattering of fresh berries or compote.

This month the dessert is dressed for colder days, with a thick coat made from sour cherry compote, warmly layered with a balsamic drizzle. Appropriately big flavors to hold our rich honey dessert to the season.

This compote was developed first for a goat cheese-cheesecake, but has found many homes since it's introduction into my recipe book. It's tart intensity lets it sit aside rich creamy desserts, perfect for a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you are interested in recreating the entire dessert, you can purchase a nice, thick aged balsamic to drip around the edges, or take a cup of balsamic vinegar and simmer it with 1/4 cup of sugar until it begins to thicken a bit and streak the pan when swirled. When it cools you will have a nice balsamic syrup.

Sour Cherry Compote

3 cups dried sour cherries
2 cups water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup amaretto
2 tbsp cornstarch

1. Place the dried cherries in a sauce pan and cover with the water, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture boils, reduce to a simmer and cook for half an hour. The cherries should plump up, absorbing much of the liquid. Remove from heat temporarily.

2. Whisk the amaretto and cornstarch together until all lumps of starch are dissolved and the slurry is even. Slowly add the slurry to the hot cherries, stirring constantly to avoid the starch from clumping.

3. When all the starch has been added, return the compote to a medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to bubble and the starches thicken and become translucent. When your compote has thickened, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.

4. Let the mixture cool at room temperature. Store the compote at room temperature for up to 3 days.


Blogger shuna fish lydon said...

This looks like a perfect dessert to go with the snow you had today, n'est pas?

November 26, 2006 11:35 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Shuna- Yes, but the snow is melting away quickly, a semifreddo of it's own.

November 27, 2006 1:37 PM  
Blogger Scott at Real Epicurean said...

I'd never thought about it in so much detail before, but now I know about the inverted sugars in honey bit, I'll use it in my own cooking. Excellent cooking tip!

November 27, 2006 5:07 PM  
Anonymous NoĆ©mie said...

I have loved your honey mousse so much that I believe this recipe is delicious with cherries. I heart ice-creams, so I can easily eat some even in winter. In france, it is still pretty warm for the season...quite unbelievable, I haven't wear my coat yet. But snow will come soon! it's great to have a season alternative with your dessert!

November 28, 2006 1:06 PM  
Blogger May said...

I have some of that mousse sitting in my freezer, made with melon honey, and it's yum!

December 03, 2006 9:37 AM  

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