Greek food writer Aglaia Kremezi, who gave us this recipe, cooks the cherries with a beet to give them a rich red hue.
- 2 lb. very firm sweet cherries such as rainier or royal ann, washed, stemmed, and stoned
- 2 cups sugar
- 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 red beet, washed, trimmed, and quartered
- 2-3 tsp. vanilla extract
Put cherries and sugar into a large bowl; toss gently to mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Transfer cherries and accumulated syrup to a medium pan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and syrup comes to a boil, about 10 minutes. Boil gently for 3 minutes more. Set aside to cool completely, then transfer cherries with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
Boil syrup in pan for 1 minute over medium heat. Add lemon juice and beets and continue to boil until syrup reaches the soft-ball stage or 238°-240° on a candy thermometer, 15-20 minutes. Add cherries and boil for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool completely, then remove and discard beets. Transfer spoon sweets to a clean quart jar and store in the refrigerator.