Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Drunken Cherry Compote

I have a friend whose eyes flutter every time I say I'm making a compote. And while I appreciate the love and I know compotes are delicious — they're insanely easy to make. Here's an example.

whipped cream and cherries... it's hard to go wrong. 
A co-workers annual 29th birthday came up and, of course, I made a cake - a white cake with whipped cream frosting and drunken cherry compote to be specific. The cake pictured at left to be impeccably specific.

While I admit that stabilizing whipped cream frosting can be kind of a chore and that white cake can sometimes end up tasting like a sugar cookie if you get the wrong recipe, the compote used for this cake is a) incredibly delicious b) oddly impressive to strangers and c) stupidly simple.

In fact, while I'll give you the exact recipe for this compote, the principle can be applied to nearly any fruit/liquid combination for a wide range of delicious cake fillings and toppings.

But here's something important to remember about compote - it's not jam. It will never get to that thick, jammy state. It will always be a little runny. As such, if you're using it for cake filler, it may cause a soggy cake. To avoid this you have two very simple options:

  1. Serve your cake quickly - fill, frost, and serve your cake within an hour or so. If you need it to last longer, see option 2.
  2. Create a barrier system - typically a nice layer of fatty buttercream or whipped cream frosting will create a reasonably leak-proof barrier to keep your compote from wrecking the joint. Frost your bottom layer and pipe or pile an extra, continuous dam around the outside edge; then fill with compote. Frost the bottom of the next layer and you've just created your own happy little non-soggy, compote-filled cake. 

Drunken Cherry Compote

1/4           cup bourbon (I always and only use something I would actually drink)
1 tbsp       black strap mollasses
2-4 tbsp    granulated sugar
2               cups fresh, pitted sweet cherries


1) Whisk together bourbon, mollasses, and two tablespoons of sugar in a saucepan large enough so that your fruit will only reach part way up

2) Add cherries and turn on low heat

3) Watch your cherries deflate. After everything has heated up, the juice will start to ooze out of the fruit, giving you a very liquid product. Let it cook down for awhile - until the alcohol has cooked out (you'll be able to tell from the smell) and the liquid begins to thicken. If you've cooked it and cooked it and it's still too liquid, add a little more sugar to thicken.

4) If you taste it and it's a little too tart for your taste, add more sugar while the liquid is still hot so that it won't be gritty.

5) Allow to cool completely before putting on or in your cake. This will allow it to thicken a little more AND keep the mixture from melting your frosting.

6) Slather, fill, or spoon as desired on/in/over cakes, ice cream, or anything else you like. (I enjoyed this particular recipe on my toast the next morning when I had a little leftover.)

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