Maple Sugar Smoked Cherry Bounce
It’s summer in Vermont and the cherry trees are loaded! Sour cherries are the most adaptable cold hardy tree, so a little sweetening with maple sugar makes them perfect.
This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine to use maple sugar rather than bland white sugar. The maple sugar not only adds vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but also melds well with the smokiness of the cherries. We have a productive sour cherry tree that works well for this recipe, but Bing cherries from the grocery store are also perfect.
This vibrant, homemade cordial is infused with savory smokiness and rich maple sugar. The three month wait time increases everything good about the handful of ingredients. Put it away in a cool dark place and pull out for your first trial on a chilly fall night!
- 6 cups fresh Bing cherries (about 1 3/4 pounds), stemmed and pitted, divided
- 2 cups granulated maple sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 quart (32 ounces) brandy or rye whiskey
Prepare smoker with cherry wood chunks according to manufacturer’s instructions, bringing internal temperature to about 225°F; maintain temperature 15 to 20 minutes. Place 1 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) cherries in an even layer in an 8-inch square disposable aluminum pan, and place on smoker grates. Close lid. Smoke cherries, maintaining temperature inside smoker around 225°F, until cherries are infused with desired degree of smoky flavor, 30 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, shaking pan occasionally.
Combine smoked cherries, maple sugar, lemon juice, and remaining 5 cups fresh cherries in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until maple sugar is dissolved and mixture is very juicy, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool 1 hour.
Pour cherry mixture into a large, clean lidded jar, and top with brandy or whiskey. Screw lid on tightly, and store in a cool, dark place for 3 months.