The original recipe for cherries preserved in spirits called for a jolt of a hard liqueur. This kinder, gentler recipe replaces the hard liqueur with cognac. The result levels the flavor field to equally savor the alcohol and cherries.
To make the cherries preserved in spirits
4 pounds of cherries
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 (3-inch) sticks of cinnamon
3 (3-inch) pieces of whole vanilla
6 cloves, whole
3 teaspoons lemon or orange zest
3 cups cognac
Hand select ripe perfect cherries with stems. Place cherries in a large mixing bowl filled with water. Rinse, change the water, rinse again. Remove the cherries from the mixing bowl, cut the stem to 1/2 inch and place in a colander.
Sterilize 3 wide-mouth pint-sized canning jars and lids. Wash the jars, lids, and bands thoroughly in hot soapy water and rinse. Place the empty jars in a large cooking pot, cover completely in water. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat, and boil for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the canning lids to the pot, along with the grasping ends. Use tongs to remove the jars. Pour out the water, and set the jar, open-side up.
Place water, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and vanilla beans in a small-sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil.
Cook until the sugar has dissolved.
Add one teaspoon zest, one stick of cinnamon, 2 cloves and one piece of vanilla bean to each jar.
Pack each jar with cherries.
Pour 1/3 of the syrup into each jar covering the cherries. Fill the jars with cognac,
about 1 cup per jar. Use tongs to remove lids, then seal the jars and attach the lid tightly.
Refrigerate for at least one week. Spoon cherries and some liqueur in a cordial glass or serve with ice cream.
Try different combinations of alcohol, e.g., rum, wine, brandy.