September weather can be temperamental, but she’s mellowed out here in the last half of the month, and we’ve been enjoying some truly gorgeous days. While it’s still not too cold for ice cream — or, actually, is it ever too cold for ice cream? While shoveling the driveway, maybe, but I’m happy to enjoy a sundae in front of the fire, deep in the heart of January — I wanted to share this little dessert treat, Black Cherry Champagne Floats, made with cherries, cherry liqueur, vanilla bean ice cream and, of course, Champagne. It’s sweet and bubbly and delightful, and a lovely way to send off the Indian summer and its still-sunlit evenings.
I have a confession to make: I hated cherries for the longest time. Or, rather, I thought I hated cherries. I discovered — sadly, not until my late twenties — that fresh cherries and maraschino cherries were not the same thing. Like, at all.
Turns out, it’s maraschino cherries that made me shudder and cringe. I avoided fresh cherries like the plague, assuming they shared the same flavor and off-putting bite. The ah-ha moment came at a super-fancy corporate lunch, where rejecting the dish placed before me — some kind of crepe with a cream filling and sliced, fresh, cherries everywhereomg — would’ve been noticeable and awkward (hey, I was young and ambitious. Now, I would just take a cue from kids everywhere and busily push the offending food around the plate with a fork, without taking so much as a nibble).
But, I took one polite, extremely tentative bite … and angels sang and puppies frolicked and the cloudy day suddenly turned sunny.
Me and fresh cherries have been BFFs ever since (although that January sundae will never be topped with a maraschino cherry [cringe]). Is there a better treat than a bowl full of plump, tie-dyed Rainier cherries, in season? I think not.
For my cherry champagne floats, I used fresh bing cherries, fine-quality cherry liqueur (hello, future Singapore Slings), a small bottle of Champagne, and vanilla bean ice cream. Chill the liquids thoroughly beforehand to prevent them from melting the ice cream too quickly.
Serve in tall float glasses with a straw and a spoon, to get every last drop.
- 12 cherries, stems removed and pitted, slices into quarters
- 6 teaspoons cherry liqueur
- 1 pint vanilla bean ice cream
- 4 to 6 cups champagne
- Slice the cherries into quarters, and add 24 quarters to the bottom of one glass.
- Pour 2 teaspoons of cherry liqueur over the cherries.
- Gentle drop one large scoop of ice cream over the cherries and liqueur.
- Drizzle 1 teaspoon of cherry liqueur over the scoop of ice cream.
- Add two to four more scoops of ice cream to the glass, until the ice cream reaches the rim.
- Pour Champagne over the ice cream.
- Repeat with the second glass.
- Serve with a straw and a long handled spoon to scoop up the liqueur-infused cherries.