The more perfect, unblemished half of those cherries was set aside for the clafoutis, but what to do with the others - the ugly ones, the misshapen, the wallflowers of the bunch? I was still bitter about the loss of my jam cherries - there won't be any jam until next summer - and I wanted to do something special with the few I had left. Spiced cherries were invading my imagination at every moment, haunting my dreams and whispering to me whenever I opened the spice cupboard, so the remaining victims were sacrificed to the jam spirits on my stove.
And what a sacrifice! Cherries dream of this sort of afterlife, snuggled in a syrupy bed of star anise, cloves, and sugar. I picked at them gingerly for a few days, slurping their juices from a spoon or stirring a few into yoghurt, but I was saving them for something special. Something I've been thinking about fondly, hopefully, obsessively, ever since I saw this.
White chocolate, be warned.
Spiced Candied Cherries
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop
I recommend, from personal experience, that you tie up the spices in a little square of cheesecloth rather than picking them out one by one.
1 lb sweet cherries
1 C water
3/4 C sugar
1 star anise pod
2 t lemon juice
Stem and pit the cherries. Mix with the remaining ingredients in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook the cherries for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly, until the syrup is reduced and the cherries are very tender.
Remove the spices and let the cherries cool completely.
Yield: about 2 cups (including syrup)