Thursday, November 29, 2007

No-hassle Holiday Gifts

For holiday gifts, some people bake cookies. I booze cherries.
A few years ago I was on deadline for a Boxing Day story and needed more column inches. Remembering the marinated fruits on the cheese cart at Campton Place, I ransacked my pantry, found some dried tart cherries and macerated them in brandy to pair with a wedge of Stilton I had in the refrigerator.
Result? Fabulous.
I've since made these for all kinds of occasions:
*as take-home favors from an 80th birthday party, with tags that said "Like M--, these just get better with time."
*as table favors for a New Year's Eve dinner with tags that re-worked the above line to "Like friendship, these just get better with time."
*as a hostess gift for an ice-cream-loving pal with the note: "Thanks for having us. Tomorrow you can relax with a bowl of ice cream topped with these."
*as a birthday gift for a friend who likes to bake, accompanied by the recipe for Flo Braker's cornmeal pound cake. (from "The Simple Art of Perfect Baking.")

The procedure is too ridiculously simple even to be called a recipe. You simply fill a glass container with *tart* dried cherries and then top off the container with decent brandy -- although I often use Tripe Sec for a slighly sweeter variation. Stick the jar in the refrigerator (I know. I know. It'd probably be fine stored on a pantry shelf, but you're not going to get botulism from a suggestion on *this* blog) and give the fruit at least a couple days to absorb the booze. My friend Brady -- a great cook and a playwright with a gift for concise dialog -- summed up the procedure perfectly:
"Pour booze over tart dried cherries in a jar; close jar; try to wait."


mikki said...

Do you pour enough booze to have the cherries actually floating? you fill the jar with cherries and then pour in booze to the rim? Sorry, I am slow.

Lisa said...

That sounds like a great idea and I must try it. I don't bake cookies, either, and I love tart dried cherries.

Sonia Simone said...

These are my favorite things ever. I tried some dried strawberries, but they were not as nice. Dried apricots are next on my list.

Raisins soaked in grappa are also very very fine.