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!
Servings: 4 people
- 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
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- Natural cane or powdered sugar, to taste (optional)
- Milk (optional)
- 2-3 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted
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.
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.
Divide the ricotta into 4 bowls. Spoon the cherries and port over top. Garnish with sliced almonds, and serve!
Do Ahead: The cherries in port can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
- 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.