These cherries in port are served over creamy fresh ricotta cheese for an easy dessert that tastes like cheesecake (but with only one-twentieth of the effort)!

Cherries in port in saucepan

2018 Update: Cherries in port with fresh ricotta is one of my favorite back-pocket desserts. The cherries are a cinch to make (they can even be made a few days in advance) and are heavenly over fresh ricotta cheese (or ice cream, or pound cake, or yogurt…). They don’t even have any added sugar, making them keto friendly! I’ve updated the recipe and added a new video below!!

Cherries in port over fresh ricotta cheese in bowls with spoons

As you may know by now, when it comes to cooking I’d much rather be playing around with savory flavors than sweet ones.  I call myself a “rainy day baker,” meaning that I usually only like to bake when the weather is foul and the kitchen feels cozy.  For all other times, I love making desserts like this—things that are simple but delicious and can be thrown together quickly without fuss (or measuring spoons).

Cherries in port in bowl

Cherries in port: as easy as it gets!

Ruby port gets reduced with a vanilla bean until it’s reduced and slightly syrupy, into which cherries are quickly heated (I use frozen, pitted cherries, although you could use fresh in season). The cherries are then spooned over fresh ricotta cheese, which is flavored with a touch of almond extract (be sure to read the ricotta buying tips below!).  The dessert is finished with some 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!). It’s one of James’s favorite desserts.

Cherries in port over fresh ricotta cheese

The cherries are sophisticated and delicious and can be served any number of ways.  Spoon them over ice cream with whipped cream, almonds and shaved chocolate for a sundae that will knock your socks off, or for a more restrained approach, serve them over plain Greek yogurt with almonds.  I’ve even had them on pancakes.

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. 😉❤️

Cherries in port over fresh ricotta cheese in bowl

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.
  • If the ricotta is quite thick, feel free to thin it with milk until 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.
  • Some other of my favorite easy desserts include these super fudgy black bean brownies, this super silky chocolate sauce/chocolate fondue, and these chocolate crackle cakes!

Cherries in port over fresh ricotta cheese in bowls with hand reaching for glass of port

Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Cherries in Port with Fresh 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
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

-The cherries in port can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

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