Surely one of the most delicious ways to warm up! A fruity little livener!! This is a simple method to preserve berries and produce some wonderful flavoured spirits to make winter cocktails.
It’s Halloween and we’re having a big fire and welcoming in the darker, wintery times with some luxury hot chocolate spiked with cherry brandy and some rich chocolate mousse (see recipe here) and drunken cherries. There’s a theme there!! Cherries and chocolate are a match made somewhere very, very nice.
I love an open fire at Halloween, staring into the flames I feel inspired and a real connection to the festival; from light to dark. It’s also just great to be outside at night in the winter, especially with a clear sky overhead and maybe a glass of cherry brandy warming your cockles!! Lighting fires at Halloween (or Samhain in Celtic Traditions) especially on higher ground is said to aid a souls way to heaven.
Samhain was a day set aside for fasting and reflection, but things have changed a little. Halloween is now a big party of course, all about feasting and treats. We’re well stocked for trick or treaters and I’m enjoying Rye flour at the minute, so loaves and cakes are on the way for tonight as well as plenty of squash/ pumpkin in a variety of forms. I might go for a good old school Soul Cake (like a spiced scone really)? We’ll see….
North Wales has been sparkling of late in Autumn sunshine and crystal clear skies. I love this time of year up here, probably my favourite time in these hills. We’ve been out walking, exploring new corners of Snowdonia, there seems to be endless trails and paths that lead to new vistas, lakes and terrain. Soon it will be a bog-fest, many paths transformed into marshes. The walking is still incredible, but you need to get a little more semi-aquatic, and definitely, a whole lot muddier and chilled.
I’m not a huge fan of the dark, long nights, so tonight is a chance for me to celebrate the brighter times of year. October has been so beautiful and November is the turning point where the wet and grey rise up and take control. I’m always reminded of the villages I’ve visited in the high Himalayas, where they are snowed in for many months a year and spend the days with friends and family, drinking local chang (like a watered down moonshine), singing, dancing and telling stories. That’s their approach to living through a really arduous winter. I think we all need more singing, dancing and story telling in winter and lets face it, homemade cherry brandy is way better than chang (trust me)!!
You can use this method (technically it’s called ‘macerating’) to preserve and transform any berries really into something warming and delicious in the winter months. We love to make things like Sloe Gin, Blackberry Whiskey and whatever soft fruits we can get our hands on. I managed to get some tasty cherries a couple of months ago and now we are reaping the rewards! I love preserving the bounty of summer/ autumn and enjoying it in the depths of winter, it seems like such a gift to pop open a jar of jam or pickle and share in the joys of the brighter months. It makes winter slip by a little easier, some summertime sweetness.
Berries/ fruits like blackberries, strawberries, loganberries, sloe, plums, damsons, mulberries, blueberries will all be very nice in this recipe.
The longer you leave the fruit to macerate, the more the flavours will develop and change. Taste it regularly and drink it when you like it! It’s a fascinating process!!
The Bits – Makes enough for one medium kilner jar
700g cherries (pitted and cut in half)
½ bottle brandy
2 handfuls sugar (to taste)
Place the cherries in medium sized kilner jar, if you’re keeping for awhile, or any large sealable container if otherwise. Pour over the brandy and sprinkle the sugar over. Place a lid on and gently shake to combine the sugar. Now taste. If you like it sweeter, add more sugar. Seal and store in a cupboard.
These can be enjoyed after a few days but are better when left for a few weeks or longer. If there are any cherries sticking above the brandy, either add more brandy or a splash of water.
Use the cherries in desserts and drink the brandy as you like it. It’s nice when served warm, especially in hot chocolate.