This simple dessert is based on the pairing of fresh milk cheese with three of my favorite flavors: cherries, orange blossom, and sake. Chances are you’ve never had a dessert made with both sake and balsamic vinegar. The convergence of three great culinary traditions—Indian, Italian, and Japanese—in one mouthful is fusion at its best.
Yield: Makes 8 servings
orange blossom chenna:
1 1/3 cups (15 ounces/425 grams) chenna
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (3½ ounces/100 grams) sour cream
1/3 cup (2½ ounces/70 grams) sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange zest, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
½ teaspoon salt
2 pounds (907 grams) cherries, stemmed and pitted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise in half, seeds scraped out, and seeds and pod reserved, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (2 ounces/56 grams) sake
¼ cup (1 1/8 ounces/31 grams) shelled pistachios, toasted and salted, for garnish
1. To make the chenna: Lightly mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until combined. Cover and refrigerate.
2. To make the drunken cherries: Put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours; do not let sit overnight.
3. To serve, remove the vanilla bean, and divide the cherries and the juices among 8 dishes. Top with the chenna, garnish with the pistachios and orange zest, and serve.
CHEF’S TIPS: You can buy chenna in Indian markets or strain all the liquid out of fresh ricotta cheese, through a fine-mesh sieve as a substitute.
You can make both the chenna and cherries ahead of time and assemble the dessert just before serving.