YIELD: ABOUT 1 CUP
Pitting cherries is a pain and a half. Instead, cook the cherries whole, then smash them when they’re soft. If you’re using sour cherries, increase the sugar. Almond extract adds depth to the unadulterated sweetness of cherries, resulting in a syrup that doubles as a pancake topper or tastes great mixed with milk (see sidebar).
2 cups sweet cherries
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup raw cane sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
In a medium pot, combine the cherries, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so that the liquid is simmering. Let cook until the cherries are soft, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, and mash the cherries. When cool, use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the cherries from the liquid, making sure to press the cherries against the strainer to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the cherries, or save for another use. Add the almond extract to the syrup, stirring to combine. Refrigerate the syrup in a covered container for up to 5 days.
To make Cherry-Almond Syrup: Stir 1 to 2 tablespoons Cherry-Almond Syrup, or to taste, into 10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) seltzer.