Cherry season is here! I can shove handfuls of them into my mouth nonstop for the entire season, but even I occasionally need a break from the fresh ones. And here you have it: A sweet, slightly boozy (I used Cognac because I couldn’t reach the Brandy on the shelf, but you can use whatever you want) concoction, layered with super thick and slightly sweetened Greek yogurt. Come on along and I’ll show you how easy it is to make…
First, we need cherries. The bigger, the sweeter, and the more ripe they are the better. You’ll need about 4-5 cups of them, washed, pitted, and halved. I use a cherry pitter from Oxo and it usually works great – except you ALWAYS will want to double check to make sure all of the pits did indeed come flying out. Sometimes you’ll get a cherry that isn’t symmetrical or has some other oddity, and the pitter won’t find it’s quarry. I make it a point to check each one during the cutting in half phase to make sure I don’t end up cracking somebody’s tooth. Also, there will be much juice splattering going on during the pitting process, so don’t wear your best party outfit.
Once pitted (Congratulations! This was the hardest part), into the pot they go with some water. Then you add a combined mixture of sugar, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt. Cook and stir until they start to boil, and add a couple of teaspoons of butter and brandy, cognac, rum, or whatever you like in the alcohol department. Simmer until cherries are softened – don’t forget to taste along the way. Sweet enough? Good salt balance? Need more brandy? If you’d like to leave out the alcohol altogether, no problem. Just add a teaspoon of vanilla, or you could also try a half teaspoon of almond extract which would also be excellent.
Just keep an eye on it until the cherries are softened and the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Kind of like this: Let it cool, chill it down, and you are good to go.
A couple of hours, or better yet, the night before all of this cherry business happens, get your yogurt process going. …and PS. If you don’t want to make your yogurt any thicker, just skip this step and sweeten the yogurt as is. I just happen to like it super thick. The process is simple: just place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, add the Greek yogurt, cover the whole business with plastic wrap, and let it sit. The whey will drain out and you’ll get a super rich, creamy and thick yogurt. I use Fage Greek yogurt which is very thick on it’s own, but after I let it sit overnight in a strainer, over 1/2 cup of whey had drained out. It was nirvana. See how pretty? Add a couple of tablespoons of agave or honey and you are in business!
All that’s left if putting it together. One layer of sweetened yogurt, one layer of cherries. Repeat and eat. You can dress it up in a fancy glass…
Or dress it down in a fruit jar…
I would choose the one that would hold the most, but hey, that’s just me. Hope you enjoy!!
- 4-5 cups fresh sweet cherries, washed, pitted, and halved
- 1-cup water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoon cornstarch
- ⅛-teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 2 tablespoons Brandy or alcohol of your choice
- 32 ounces low-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Agave (or honey to taste)
- In a large saucepan, combine cherries and water.
- In a small bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Pour over cherries and stir to mix.
- Cook cherries on the stovetop over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils. Add butter, and then add Brandy. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking on a low simmer until cherries are softened – this will probably take about five minutes.
- Remove from heat and set aside. When mixture gets to room temperature, chill in refrigerator until ready to use.
- For the Greek Yogurt: Place yogurt in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight. This will create a thick yogurt that resembles softened cream cheese. Stir in agave or honey and taste – you might like it a little sweeter, and just add some more if you do.
- To serve: Using a parfait glass or fruit jar (or whatever you feel like for that matter), dollop a layer of the sweetened yogurt in the bottom, add a layer of the cherry mixture, then repeat. That’s all there is to it – dive right in.
- Note: If you happen to make more parfaits than you can eat (ha ha), just cover and store and chill. This keeps beautifully in the refrigerator and looks great the next day.