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Chocolate covered, almond stuffed, brandied cherries
in the style of a medieval subtlety

Log Notes and Documentation

Submitted: Caid Brewers Guild Interkingdom Brewing Contest, GWW IX (10/8/05)
By: Journeyman Lynnette de Sandoval del Valle de los Unicornios


The Recipe

    15 pounds of Bing cherries = 8 quarts pitted
    12 cups white baking sugar
    12 cups Christian Brothers Brandy
    5 cups blanched, slivered almonds
    4 3” cinnamon sticks (split in half lengthwise)

Layer cherries, almonds, cinnamon sticks.
Pour in the sugar.
Pour in the brandy

Gently mix the sugar on top to dissolve it, don’t stir the cherries yet.


Log Notes

5/21/05: Made approx 16 quarts (1 recipe) split into two 8-quart container.

Stirring occasionally until:

5/30/05: Removed cherries. Stored in plastic brewing vat in refrigerator.

10/2/05: Completed the subtleties, stuffed the brandied cherries with whole almonds, covered with dark chocolate, added almond sliver to emulate the cherry stem.


History

Cinnamon: Cinnamon was a well known, although high priced spice in Medieval Europe.

Cherries: Several varieties of sweet cherries were common in Europe during the Middle Ages.

Brandy: (a distilled grape wine) was being produced in the Armagnac region of France at least as early as 1411, although it wasn’t until the 1700’s that it was being shipped out for more than local consumption. Christian Brothers brandy, on the other hand, was first produced in 1945 in California.

Brandied Cherries: Fresh fruit was rarely eaten raw in the Middle Ages. More often it was candied by cooking in sugar, cooked into jellies, or marmalade, or used to flavor alcoholic beverages. The Closet Opened has two recipes for wine fermented from cherries and 1 for flavoring a white wine with cherries.

Sugar: Was introduced to Western Europe in the late 1,000’s by the Arabs. Sugar for a project like this would probably be the lowest grace (least refined) – why waste the extra money (sugar was expensive) on the purest white sugar when the lack of color won’t show?

Almonds: Grew in the hot regions of Europe (and according to Gerard even grew in London). They were brought to Europe by the Arabs, who had found them in Persia.

My combining cherries and almonds wasn’t as original as I had thought – most period recipes I found for alcoholic cherry beverages included the cherry pits, which imparts the taste of bitter almonds.

Chocolate: Was consumed in period. Cortes brought it to Spain from the New World in 1528. In the 1600’s it was becoming know and loved by most of Europe. It was considered a very healthful, rich and invigorating … drink! Chocolate power was mixed with sugar and spices and served hot or cold in water. It wasn’t until the 1700’s that it was served in milk.

In 1828 Conrad van Houten produced a lighter, less rich drink by inventing a screw press method of squeezing 2/3s of the cocoa butter out of the chocolate — modern cocoa powder was born.

In 1847 Fry & Son (a drinking chocolate producer) first added the excess cocoa butter to the chocolate liquor (the liquid that is produced by grinding the cocoa beans) for a sweet, delicious (ta-da!) EATING chocolate! Just a few (hundred) years out of period. SIGH!

The chocolate I’ve used here is Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses.

Subtleties: Medieval banquets often included illusion foods – decorated to look like other items. In period these cherries would probably be presented covered in marzipan, colored and shaped to look like grapes, attached to grape stems and decorated with grape leaves.

Having no experience with marzipan and being a confirmed chocoholic – I present instead:

Chocolate covered, almond stuffed, brandied cherries in the style of a medieval subtlety


Bibliography

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