I could eat these cherries in port over sweet ricotta every single day. It’s a cheesecake-like trifle that takes only minutes to make. This is a dessert that’s incredibly elegant but insanely simple. In other words, it’s my FAVORITE back-pocket dessert! (Video below)

Overhead shot of hand holding a spoon, taking a bite of sweet ricotta with port-braised cherries.

Easy sweet ricotta dessert

As you may know by now, when it comes to sweets, I prefer desserts that are easy to make, unfussy and not-too-sweet. While I love cheesecake, I find that it’s often too cloying or heavy. Not to mention the fact that a cheesecake takes hours to make and chill. That’s why this is one of my STAPLES. It has all the flavors of cheesecake, but it’s far easier, lighter and healthier!

Close-up side view of a bowl of ricotta and cherries.

Cherry port sauce for dessert

These cherries in port are a cinch to whip up and can even be made a few days in advance (in fact, they get even more delicious with time). First, you simmer ruby port with a vanilla bean until it’s reduced and slightly syrupy. Then you add frozen, pitted cherries (you could use fresh cherries in season) and cook them until they’re warmed through. Done! Once cool, they’re ready to serve.

Process shot showing cherries simmering in a pot with port.

How to serve cherries in port

The cherries absorb the sweet, vanilla-port flavor and can be served in any number of ways. I love them over ricotta, but you can also spoon them over vanilla ice cream with whipped cream, almonds and shaved chocolate for a sundae that will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF. Pile them over pound cake or pancakes. Or, for a more restrained approach, serve them over plain Greek yogurt with almonds. 

Bowl of cherries in port with a vanilla bean.

Sweet ricotta

The secret to this recipe is the ricotta. This is the time to buy the good stuff (be sure to read the Tips below!). The creamy ricotta is mixed with a touch of almond extract, which pairs perfectly with the cherries. You can choose to sweeten the ricotta with a touch of sugar or not, depending on your preference. I find that the good quality stuff usually doesn’t need any sweeteners, especially when paired with the cherries.

Ricotta cheesecake bowls

The dessert is finished with a sprinkle of sliced almonds for flavor and crunch.  The result tastes like a sumptuous cheesecake in a glass, but with only one-twentieth of the work (and one-twentieth of the sugar!).

Overhead shot of two ricotta cherry cheesecake bowls, with a hand grabbing a glass of port to the side.

This is a perfect no-brainer dessert for the holidays or for Valentine’s Day (especially if you’d rather focus on the meal than on dessert), but it’s also a heavenly mid-week treat. 😉❤️

Overhead close up of a bowl of sweet ricotta topped with cherries in port and almonds.

Cherries in port with sweet ricotta tips:

  • Be sure to buy ruby port, not tawny. Ruby port is younger and has spent less time in the cask, giving it a fruitier, sweeter flavor that pairs perfectly with the cherries.
  • The cherries in port are also delicious over ice cream, yogurt, pound cake or even pancakes and waffles!
  • You’ll want to use the best quality ricotta you can find—the ingredient list should contain only milk and/or whey, salt and vinegar (no stabilizers or gums). You can find the ultra good stuff (which you will want to eat with a spoon!) at Italian markets and specialty cheese stores, but some solid supermarket brands include Organic Valley, Calabro and Biazzo. It should taste sweet and creamy.
  • Good quality ricotta is often naturally sweet, but if you feel it needs some sugar, go for it! I find that a teaspoon or two usually does the trick.
  • I prefer to serve this dessert in glass bowls so that you can see the layers. I used these bowls, but small glasses or even mason jars would be cute.

Other easy desserts to try:

Other ways to use up fresh ricotta:

Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Cherries in Port with Sweet Ricotta and Almonds

This dessert tastes like cheesecake in a bowl, but with only one-twentieth of the effort of a regular cheesecake! Reduced vanilla-infused port (be sure to use ruby port, not tawny) creates a gorgeous sauce for frozen cherries. The cherries and sauce get served over fresh ricotta cheese. Use the best quality ricotta you can find—the ingredient list should contain only milk and/or whey, salt and vinegar (no stabilizers or gums). You can find the ultra good stuff (which you will want to eat with a spoon!) at Italian markets and specialty cheese stores, but some solid supermarket brands include Organic Valley, Calabro and Biazzo. If the ricotta is quite thick, feel free to stir in milk until creamy. Also, many high quality ricottas are naturally sweet, but feel free to sweeten the ricotta with sugar if you prefer. The cherries in port are also delicious over ice cream, yogurt or pancakes!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cheesecake trifle recipe, cherry recipes, easy cherry desserts, sweet ricotta
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Nicki Sizemore

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ruby port
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 10- oz bag frozen pitted cherries, thawed (or 1 ½ cups fresh, pitted cherries)
  • 2 cups fresh ricotta
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • Natural cane or powdered sugar, to taste (optional)
  • Milk (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Instructions

  1. Pour the port into a medium saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds using the back of a small knife. Add the vanilla beans and the vanilla pod to the port. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the liquid lightly coats a spoon, about 20-25 minutes. Stir in the cherries and cook 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Do Ahead: The cherries in port can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
  2. Whisk the ricotta with the almond extract. Add a bit of sugar to taste if you wish (I prefer it very lightly sweetened if at all, but it will depend on the quality of ricotta you use). If your ricotta is quite thick, thin it with a splash or two of milk until creamy.
  3. Divide the ricotta into 4 bowls. Spoon the cherries and port over top. Garnish with sliced almonds, and serve!

Recipe Notes

Do Ahead: The cherries in port can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Tips:

  • Be sure to buy ruby port, not tawny. Ruby port is younger and has spent less time in the cask, giving it a fruitier, sweeter flavor that pairs perfectly with the cherries.
  • If you choose sweeten the ricotta, a teaspoon or two of sugar usually does the trick.
  • I prefer to serve this dessert in glass bowls so that you can see the layers. I used these bowls, but small glasses or even mason jars would be cute.

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