Chefs use cherry and spice combinations to complement the various preparations of food, some with the cherry as the leading ingredient and others with cherries just as part of the spiced flavoring. The sweet but tart flavor of the cherry lends itself well to sweet and savory dishes. Different groupings bring out different aspects of the cherry flavor and make for interesting cooking.
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If you combine the warm spices of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg with the sweetness of cherries in a quick bread, the product actual improves with age. Spiced cherry muffins taste good with the addition of black pepper. Mace is another spice that complements cherries especially in combination with chocolate.
Use dried cherries as the base for a cherry spice dry rub. Your roast beef and crispy pork will take on a fruity flavor that contrasts nicely with spices like cumin, chili powder and black pepper. Try adding garlic salt, ginger and dried onions and your dry rub will take on nuances that will make identifying the individual ingredients difficult.
Cooks often use cherries as the base for meat marinades or barbecue sauces. The cherries complement gamey meats like duck, deer or bear, as well as pork and beef. Cook up some fresh or frozen cherries with softened dried poblano or ancho chili peppers for your next cookout. The cherries keep the sauce slightly sweet while the peppers add a nice heat.
Spiced cherries on their own make a flavorful condiment. Take the sweetness of the cherry with a bite of the vinegar, tone it down with sugar and spice it up with some warm spices like cloves, cinnamon and allspice. Serve with roasted meats or vanilla ice cream for a sharp contrast.