Celebrating the Classics: Cherry & Almond

11 July 2013 Cassandra Lea

As chocolate makers, we spend the better part of our days working with the fruit of the cacao tree in one way or another: roasting it, refining it, tempering it, tasting it, making it into confections, coating caramels with it, educating others about it. At the factory we are nearly elbow deep in nibs and chocolate bars, and we often leave work with the heady aroma of the cacao bean infused (permanently, it would seem) into our hair and clothing. If you’ve visited our factory in Fremont, you may already know that we source our cacao from Latin America and Africa, from regions including the Dominican Republic, Peru, Ecuador, and the Congo. Yet we are not blind to the equally delicious fruits growing right here in our home state. And, as we've noticed at our local PCC grocery store down the street and at our neighborhood farmer's markets, we Washingtonians are smack dab in the middle of a beautiful cherry season.

Washington State grows more sweet cherries than anywhere else in the country, and the list of varieties stretches far beyond the well-known and widely distributed Bing and Rainier. If you know where to look, you can find Lapin, Sweetheart, Van, Lambert, Tieton, Chelan, and more. With all of these delicious cherries in our midst this month, we thought it a perfect time to celebrate our classic Cherry & Almond 70% Dark Chocolate bar, and because it is still prime ice cream-eating time, we are sharing with you a recipe for cherry almond sundaes. These cool treats feature our local bounty of fresh Washington cherries along with Washington-sourced rosé wine, another summer treat unique to this region of the country.

Like many of the best things in life, the cherry season is as fleeting and it is delicious, so don't delay your sundae-making. Load up on cherries and start celebrating!

Cherry Almond Sundaes

3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup rosé wine from Washington State (we used Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese)
1/2 lb fresh red cherries, pitted
1/8 tsp pure almond extract
2 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted
1 pint vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, or your favorite non-dairy alternative*

Bring sugar and wine to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add the cherries and bring just to a boil, then remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to removed cherries from the liquid and place them in a strainer set over a bowl to catch any additional juices. Allow the cherries to drain for several minutes, then add the accumulated juices back to the sugar and wine mixture. Return the mixture to the heat, bring to a boil, and simmer until reduced to a syrupy liquid, about 1/3 cup. Pour over cherries and cool to room temperature. Stir in almond extract.

To serve, scoop the ice cream or frozen yogurt into four bowls, spoon cherries over, and sprinkle with the sliced almonds.

Makes four servings

*Feeling adventurous? Try this with chocolate sorbet!

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