Well, my semester is finally winding down. I’ll be free for winter break in a week and a half! I never have much free time to myself during school semesters, and I have a long list of projects, novels, and meet-ups with friends planned for the break. I can’t wait! My study and work-filled weekends haven’t allowed me to spend much quality time with Alejandro, but luckily he has been able to get out and enjoy himself hunting quite a bit. We have a freezer stocked with deer for the winter, and he has brought home doves, pheasants, and ducks that I’ve enjoyed cooking with.
I made these preserves this summer when cherries were on sale at the store. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to go a little overboard when fresh, in-season fruit is marked down. I usually end up buying more than we can eat and have to come up with a way to use the fruit in baking. Definitely not a bad thing. This recipe caught my eye, and I’m so glad I tried it. I wasn’t sure how well it would work canning with cocoa powder, but I figured it would have to taste good since sweet cherries pair so well with chocolate. The preserves are thick and chunky and have a wonderful flavor. I especially enjoy spreading them on toast atop a layer of neufchâtel or mascarpone cheese. I could imagine they would be tasty on top of ice cream or as a filling for cake.
6½ cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3 cups firmly packed coarsely chopped pitted sweet cherries
½ cup lemon juice
2 pouches liquid pectin
¼ cup amaretto liqueur (or ½ tsp. almond extract)
1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cocoa powder until combined.
2. In a large, deep, stainless steel saucepan, combine cherries and lemon juice. Stir in sugar and cocoa mixture. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down over high heat. Stir in pectin and boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in amaretto or almond extract. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
3. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims of jars clean, and secure lids to fingertip-tight.
4. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring water to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars and place on a kitchen towel. Allow to cool overnight before storing.
Yield: 7 half-pints
(Recipe from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)