Very naughty cherries

I have a confession to make. I don’t like chocolate. I really don’t. I don’t hate it in the way I hate oysters, but I just can’t really be bothered. If my GP said to me ‘Mr Swallow, I’m afraid In have some bad news for you. You must not eat any chocolate ever again, it will kill you,’ I genuinely wouldn’t give a toss.

In fact, I have no discernible sweet tooth at all. In a restaurant in Florence, while the rest of my homeboys were tucking into zabaglione, I had pasta con fagioli. I’m not making that up, by the way. Ask my mate Ian Johnson; he’ll vouch for me.

I was once invited to one of those dinner parties where everyone brings something. I got nominated for a pudding, I was a bit nonplussed. Time for my thinking cap.

It was the height of summer, and my local greengrocer was awash with dark cherries. Hmmm. Must be something I can do with those….

Here’s what you need

            A bag of dark cherries with the stalks on. It just makes things easier, as you’ll see

            Eight squares of some really good dark chocolate, the stuff that’s 80% cocoa solids

Some set honey; don’t use runny, or things won’t set and you’ll simply make even more of a mess than you’re about to

Cream sherry

Enough cardamom pods

You’ll also need a jug of iced water, and a cooling rack.

Here’s what you do

Get a heavy saucepan (non-stick Ideally, or it will be a devil of a job to wash up), put in a tablespoon of water, and a tablespoon of cream sherry. Put it on as low a heat as your hob will allow.

While that heats up, and don’t let it do anything more vigorous than a very gentle simmer, seed the cardamom pods, chuck out the husks, and grind the seeds in a mortar. You need about a teaspoon of ground seeds.

When the liquid has simmered down to about half the original volume, switch the heat off. Break the chocolate into squares, shove it in the pan with a teaspoonful of honey, and keep it all moving as the chocolate melts. You may need to heat things up slightly if you’re a bit slow on your feet. When the chocolate has melted, and you have a nice runny mix, turn the heat off.

This next bit is rather fiddly. Using the stalks as a handle, dip the cherries individually in the chocolate to coat them evenly. Hoik ‘em out, let any excess gunge drip back into the pan, and plunge into iced water, then let them drain on the cooling rack I told you about.

At this point your cat will be clawing your legs, but ignore it until you’ve done all the cherries. Then set the pan on the floor and let your pet feline do most of the hard work of washing up.

A variant

If you want to show off big time, get some fresh mint, finely shred a few leaves, and sprinkle over the cherries just before serving.

Ay, caramba, me amigos.

A footnote

I did all that faffing around and everyone else turned up with M&S ready meals. I don’t know, you can’t get the staff these days, can you?

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