Chocolate and cherries were made for each other, and this preserve is proof. The combination of the two is insanely decadent. Be sure to use high-quality cocoa powder that is unsweetened and has no other added ingredients. Spoon this preserve on top of cheesecake or ice cream for a stunning—and absolutely heavenly—dessert.
For the calcium water:
- 1/2 tsp. calcium powder
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 1/2 lb. sweet cherries
- 1/3 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp. Pomona's universal pectin
To prepare the calcium water, in a small, clear jar with a lid, combine the calcium powder and the 1/2 cup water. Shake well. You will need 3 tsp. calcium water for this recipe; store the extra in the refrigerator for future use.
Wash 4 or 5 half-pint jars, lids and bands. Place the jars in a canner, fill the canner two-thirds full with water and bring to a rolling boil. Boil the jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. (Add 1 extra minute of sterilizing time for every 1,000 feet above sea level.) Reduce the heat and allow the jars to remain in the hot canner water until ready to use. Place the lids in water in a small saucepan, heat to a low simmer and hold until ready to use.
Rinse the cherries and remove the stems. Cut the cherries in half and remove the pits.
In a saucepan, combine the cherry halves, cocoa powder and the 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Measure 4 cups of the cooked mixture (save any extra for another use) and return the measured amount to the saucepan. Add the cinnamon, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and the 3 tsp. calcium water. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and pectin. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
Bring the cherry mixture to a full boil over high heat. Slowly add the pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the preserves return to a boil. Once the preserves return to a full boil, remove the pan from the heat.
To can the preserves, remove the jars from the canner and ladle the preserves into the hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove any trapped air bubbles, wipe the rims with a damp cloth, put on the lids and screw bands and tighten to fingertip tight. Lower the filled jars into the canner, ensuring the jars are not touching each other and are covered with at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Place the lid on the canner, return to a rolling boil and process for 10 minutes. (Add 1 extra minute of processing time for every 1,000 feet above sea level.) Turn off the heat and allow the canner to sit untouched for 5 minutes, then remove the jars and allow to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Confirm that the jars have sealed, then store properly. Makes 4 to 5 half-pint (8-oz.) jars.
Adapted from Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin, by Allison Carroll Duffy (Fair Winds Press, 2013).