Earlier this week I found that Trader Joe’s had a very good deal on fresh red cherries – $2.99 for a pound. So grabbed them, not entirely sure what I would do with them. As I was home later that evening I decided I was in the mood to make a cherry sauce and put it over vanilla ice cream… mmmm… of course I didn’t have any vanilla ice cream… But, I did have a box of Jell-O instant banana pudding mix (no idea why). I flashed back to my childhood when my grandmother would freeze pudding into popsicles for us during the summer. It was such a treat – I loved the texture. Creamier than a fruit popsicle but a little more sturdy than ice cream. Since I had milk in my fridge to make my banana pudding for the 4th of July, I thought, what the hell, I’ll make a separate batch for this dessert.
For the sauce, I stemmed and pitted 1 pound of fresh red cherries. I highly recommend getting a cherry pitter since I don’t have one. By the time I was finished there was cherry juice everywhere and my hands looked like I had murdered someone. Anyway, I placed the pitted cherries into a medium sauce pan, added 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 a vanilla been (scrape the insides and put the whole pod in), 1 cinnamon stick, and a little bit of fresh grated nutmeg. I put it over medium high heat and let it rip until the cherries cooked down and a thick sauce was formed, about 15-20 minutes. I killed the heat and let it cool before placing it over my frozen pudding, which, by the way, I made according to the package directions, placed in a cup-sized container lined with plastic wrap, and put it in the freezer until solid, at least 2 hours. When ready I just pulled out the plastic wrap, turned the pudding over onto a plate, peeled the plastic wrap off, and it was ready for my warm cherry sauce. The warmth softens the pudding a bit, which I love. I like my cherry sauce chunky, but you can definitely puree it with a stick blender until nice and smooth. Either way it’s a tasty summery treat for less than $6.
Now, you’ve heard me say things like this before, but do NOT go out and buy a vanilla bean just to make this recipe. They are expensive, like $10 for 2. I threw it in because I happened to have it on my shelf. If you don’t have one, simply stir in some vanilla extract at the end of cooking. And don’t even buy a cinnamon stick for that matter – put a few pinches of ground in or just leave it out. Also if you happen to have some red wine laying around, you could use that instead of water for some real depth of flavor. And of course you can use any flavor and/or brand of pudding you like. Or you can just use vanilla ice cream. Or perhaps some biscuits and whipped cream. Mmm! Enjoy!