The warm essence of pure cherries — with traces of vanilla, cinnamon, and exotic spices — is simply intoxicating. Pour this sauce over our Cherry Panna Cotta, vanilla ice cream or yogurt; dress up a buttery pound cake; or use it to sweeten Sunday morning waffles.
At your grocery store, look for cherry juice and dried cherries on the shelves, and for unsweetened cherry juice (usually from concentrate) in the fruit juice section. But it's even better to wait to make the sauce until fresh cherries are at their peak, when they taste the best and cost the least. Granted, pitting cherries can be a messy task, but once that's done, the sauce is simple to make, and it keeps for days. One taste and you'll agree that this sauce is well worth the effort!
From Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook by Myra Goodman
Combine the cherry juice, fresh and dried cherries, cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamom, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Using the tip of a small knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the sacepan, then add the pod, too.
Bring the cherry mixture just to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are very soft and the liquid has thickened to a syrupy consistency, about 45 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, and star anise from the sauce, discarding the cinnamon and anise. Rinse and dry the vanilla bean and set it aside for another use.
Add the liqueur to the sauce, if using, and stir to blend. The sauce can be served at room temperature or slightly warmer, but not so warm that it melts cold desserts. The sauce can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days.