When mothering three small children you get your peace though small stolen moments. Instead of grand days out at the spa or retreat weekends away from it all, I steal five minutes lying in a soft bed or a few seconds sitting at an open window.
Tonight was one of those moments. After getting child #3 in bed for the third and hopefully final time, I sat down at my bedroom window. After tonight’s tear-filled, procrastination laced bedtime routine, I needed a moment to collect myself before going downstairs to face the dinner dishes.
I sat for just a moment and listened. I heard the mournful plea of a distant train whistle, the fairy-like tinkle of wind chimes several houses away and the sound of wind through the leaves. I realized just how much I had missed the sound of leaves. I love the way the sound tickles the ears at the same moment the breeze sweeps against the skin. It makes me smile and feel giddy. Only in the past weeks have the leaves on the trees grown large enough to rustle in the wind, and only the past few weeks have warmed enough for open windows.
Warm weather is here. Finally. I have packed away the twins fleece outfits, knowing they will never be worn again. I have planted herbs and weeded flower beds, but it wasn’t until tonight’s breeze that I finally had a moment; albeit stolen, to take the time to appreciate the change in the seasons. I’m grateful to live here where I get four distinct seasons. I’m grateful to have my stolen moments.
This dessert is one of my all-time favorites. I make it every year when cherries start to appear at a reasonable price. This dessert is the reason I have not one, but two cherry pitters, and this dessert is the one I look forward to the most in late spring. There is just something about the combination of warm cherries, cool whipped cream and the crunch of bittersweet chocolate that makes me happy. I found this dessert years ago, in an old dusty edition of The Joy of Cooking. It isn’t in new editions; I haven’t seen it in print in at least a decade. My version of it is probably not very much like the original recipe, as it has changed year after year like a child’s game of telephone. The basics remain; a small amount of butter and sugar are heated, cherries are added, very lightly cooked, fresh whipped cream is piled on and topped with chopped chocolate. It is fast and the perfect dessert for one.
Until recently, I always used fresh cherries, pitting them one at a time until I had enough for one serving. However, I now also use frozen pitted cherries when fresh cherries are not in season. They don’t have quite the same texture, but they are certainly faster and alleviate the need for a cherry pitter. I always add a tiny splash of liquor. I’ve used bourbon, rum and brandy, but prefer the sweet nuttiness of Amaretto the most. The liquor was almost certainly not in the original recipe, but when aiming for a stolen moment, liquor is always a bonus. When I do have this dessert; it is a reward. It is my stolen moment for the day, a way to unwind and enjoy something sweet just for myself. Enjoy!
Cherries and Chocolate
Adapted from a recipe in an out of print edition of The Joy of Cooking
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup pitted cherries, cut in half
1 teaspoon Amaretto, Bourbon, Rum or Brandy
1/2 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Whip the heavy cream and one teaspoon of white sugar in a cold bowl until stiff peaks form. Keep the whipped cream in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, butter and a pinch of salt.
Cook until the butter is melted and bubbly.
Add the cherries and cook, stirring frequently just long enough for the cherries to start to release their liquids and form a syrup.
If you are using frozen cherries, this step will take an extra minute or two. Add the liquor and remove from the heat. Transfer the cherries to a small bowl or cup. Top the cherries in syrup with the whipped cream and then the chopped chocolate. Eat immediately but not quickly.