This is a recipe I've been making for probably about 8 years now, and it's a tradition for me to make it every single year when cherries come into season again. I can't remember how exactly I came across the recipe, but I managed to talk my best friend Stephanie into coming over and making it with me (she's pretty much always game for my shenanigans). Of course, this was before we knew about cherry pitters and tools that would make the job of removing the cherry pits easy work, so we had to do things the hard way... Somehow, we found some information, stating different ways to pit cherries without the actual tool, including methods using a straw and others using paper clips or bobby pins. And we tried them all! Our hands and clothes looked like they could have been involved in a terrible massacre, but we did manage to accomplish pitting all those cherries.
I have since acquired (at least) one of the actual tools for accomplishing such a task, and have even considered purchasing one that would allow me to pit many cherries all at once. Sadly, I cannot justify spending more money on something I only use a few times every year, in a good year... And I will say this, for all of the work involved, it really is worth it!
Now, there are several other versions of this delightful dessert floating around in internet land, but I prefer this one, as there aren't a lot of extra flavors shoving the naturally wonderful taste of cherries out of the spotlight. This is a pretty simple recipe, with very little ingredients, so the flavor of the cherries is prevalent in every single bite. As for adding the alcohol and lighting it on fire... While it's kind of a cool show, it isn't necessary.
2 lb. pitted cherries
½ - 1 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch or 4 Tbsp. flour
1½ c. water
⅛ c. brandy, optional
Vanilla ice cream
Combine sugar, flour, and water in a saucepan; add pitted cherries. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly. If desired, pour brandy over the top of the cherry sauce and light on fire, moving the sauce around a little until the flames die out so as to avoid burning any of the fruit. Serve hot on top of ice cream.