Do you ever find something new at the grocery store and think “Well that sounds weird but maybe it will be interesting”? You know, like pizza flavored Pringles or red velvet ice cream? Or Black Cherry Flavored Whiskey?
Well, I can’t tell you much about the pizza flavored Pringles, but I can tell you that the black cherry whiskey was definitely…well…interesting. And not in a good way. The damn thing has been sitting in my liquor cabinet for nearly a year.
I am so proud of myself. I finally managed to figure out a way to integrate it in to a dish and make it taste good. Really! My Black Cherry Whiskey Creme Caramel turned out to be not only edible, but pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.
Early in our relationship, my boyfriend decided to impress me by making me a full dinner complete with wine and dessert. While shopping for ingredients we noticed a bottle of whiskey flavored with black cherry.
“That could be interesting in a dessert,” I said. “Maybe we should give it a try,” I said.
I should eat my words.
So we took the bottle of whiskey home and broke it open…and quickly took a step back. The immediate smell was that of astringent ethanol and fruit-flavored medicine. No oak or peat or smoke or anything particularly reminiscent of whiskey.
It didn’t make it in to the night’s dessert.
My man suggested we toss it but I, stubborn ass that I am, insisted that we keep it. I saw potential in the seemingly vile liquid. I had no idea what it’s potential was; perhaps just a sickly sweet lighter fluid.
It’s been sitting in my liquor cabinet for months, taunting me, challenging me, every time I open the cabinet door.
I was recently perusing the menus of nearby restaurants when I came across Pizzeria Mozza. I have only eaten at this particular pizzeria once before, but their food is to die for. The two dishes that particularly stuck in my memory were the brussels sprout pizza (crispy, roasted deliciousness) and their fabulous creme caramel.
I was stuck with a thought: black cherry whiskey caramel. Whiskey, even cheap whiskey, mellows in flavor and loses any harsh alcohol taste it may have when cooked thoroughly. I figured that adding a bit of the black cherry whiskey to a caramel sauce may add a bit of unique flavor without accosting your taste buds.
I had some doubts as I made this creme caramel. The base is an easy custard of eggs, milk, and sugar and the sauce is simply caramelized sugar and whiskey. The caramel is poured in to the bottom of a small ramekin, topped with the custard, and then baked in a water bath. The finished creme caramel is cooled and then inverted, allowing the caramel sauce to drip luxuriously down the sides of the custard.
I was worried as I made the caramel as it seemed a bit stiff and overcooked when I poured it in to the ramekin, but my fears were assuaged as I inverted the creme caramel. It turned out divine. The finished caramel doesn’t taste much like black cherry or whiskey, but instead has a soft fruity, smokey flavor. The custard is eggy and not too sweet. Its a perfect base for the sweet and ever-so-slightly-bitter caramel sauce.
Black Cherry Whiskey (adapted from Caramel Custard)
Makes 3 four-ounce ramekins, but can easily be scaled up
For the caramel
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 tsps water
- 1 Tb black cherry whiskey, such as Red Stag
For the custard
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk, low or whole fat
- 1 Tb black cherry whiskey
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and stir until just combined. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until the sugar melts and become golden to golden brown.
- Remove from heat and carefully add the cherry whiskey. Swirl pan to combine. The caramel will bubble a lot, and may seize slightly. Don’t worry!
- Divide caramel between 3 four-ounce ramekins. Again, the caramel may seem a too thick, but, trust me, it will come out fine.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, remaining sugar, milk, and whiskey until just combined, but not frothy.
- Divide the custard evenly and pour over the caramel in each ramekin.
- Place ramekins in to an 8 x 8 baking pan. Carefully fill the pan with enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the ramekins.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350F or until a knife inserted in to the middle of the custard comes out clean. Make sure that your water bath does not dry out.
- Cool completely. Run a clean knife around the edge of each ramekin and invert on to a plate. The liquid caramel should run down the sides of the caramel and pool in the plate.