May 22, 2016

We all likely know of maraschino cherries in one context: they are the tasteless, florescent red orbs swimming in sticky syrup, plopped as an afterthought onto a sundae or a dollop of whipped cream, buried in canned fruit cocktail, or swimming in a tikki drink. But these cherries don’t always deserve the treatment they get. In fact, with one remarkable trick, they can be downright outstanding, and the absolute star of the show.

The key to elevating this ingredient? Smoke the cherries. That’s right. A little smoke (provided by cherry wood chips, naturally), infuses the softened fruit with rich, dark, sweet-yet-almost-wine-like flavor. Fresh cherries may be too firm to absorb much smoke and may not be sweet enough to balance the strong cherry wood flavor. Instead, look for all natural maraschino cherries without artificial flavors or dyes, such as Tillen Farms.

No smoker? No problem. We rig our own with a disposable foil pan. The best part of this quick and easy method is that it can be done indoors on your stovetop—no need to fire up the grill if you haven’t already.

The cherries are delicious on their own, but nestled in crisp pockets of phyllo with a creamy almond-vanilla filling, these Smoked Cherry Bombs become the easiest, most impressive summer dessert for entertaining. A firework in your mouth, you might say.

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