See my recipe featured in Readers’ Recipes: The New York Times Magazine.

I’ll never forget the first bing cherry I ate. In 1992, after moving from Oklahoma to California, I attended a cookout with friends from my new high school. Along with the garden burgers and hot dogs was a bag of fresh cherries. I found it odd to see cherries eaten out of a produce bag, not immersed in syrup. Always the adventurous eater, I tried a fresh cherry and immediately fell in love with the intricate flavors that barely resembled the sticky sweet  cherries of my youth. Every summer since I’ve anticipated their seasonal purchase and consumption.

This gelatin consists of cherry juice, cherries, and rum on top; sweetened condensed milk, almond extract, and cherry juice on bottom. The cherry/almond/rum combination is sweet and lovely.

Recipe

Top layer

  • 2 cups 100% black cherry juice (I always prefer 100% juices to blends, but if using a blend, you may want to adjust the sugar)
  • ½ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 packets gelatin
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • ¾ cup cold rum
  • 1 cup pitted and halved cherries (thoroughly washed and dried)

Bottom layer

  • One 14oz can sweetened condensed milk (cold)
  • 1 ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup cherry juice (optional – gives the bottom a pink color. Use 2-cups water for a white bottom layer)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 2 packets gelatin

Top layer:

Put ¾ cup of cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside. (*This is called “blooming.” Blooming allows gelatin to absorb water and thus dissolve easily when added to hot liquid.)

Put cherry juice and sugar in saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil. Once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat, and add the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin is fully dissolved. Transfer liquid to a bowl and stir in cold rum. Put bowl in refrigerator.

Bottom layer:

Put ¾ cup of cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Bring 1 cup water and cherry juice to a boil and remove from heat. Add bloomed gelatin, stir until fully dissolved. Transfer liquid to a bowl and stir in sweetened condensed milk and almond extract (if using). Put bowl in refrigerator.

Once the cherry gelatin has thickened to a soft gel consistency (it should be easy to stir but thick enough to suspend the cherries), stir in cherries, and spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until almost set – some gelatin should stick to your fingers when lightly touched. When the cherry layer is almost set, spoon the creamy layer into the mold(s).

Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

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