A classic Greek dessert that is sweet and simple; a perfect way to sweeten your day!
We cannot begin to tell you how excited we are to share this recipe. Last year, our dear friend Maria popped by for a visit and brought with her a jar of cherry spoon sweet or kobosta that her mom, Κυρία Βασιλική (Mrs. Vasiliki), had made. Anyone who is either Greek, or has invited a Greek into their home, knows that it is rare for us to arrive at someone else’s house empty-handed. It’s not that gifts are required but when they do arrive they are appreciated, especially when they are as delicious as this cherry dessert. Having already tried some of Κυρία Βασιλική’s creations, we knew that we were in for a treat, but nothing prepared us for the happiness found in that jar.
When we asked Maria if she thought her mom would be interested in being featured on More Kouppes the response was an enthusiastic yes! And no wonder! Κυρία Βασιλική is an amazing cook and baker who is generous with her wisdom and skill. One of us was meeting her for the first time during this More Kouppes event, but by the time we had pitted our second cherry we were all old friends. She is just that kind of lady.
Along with learning about different types of cherries, when to get the best cherries at the best price, we also learned quite a bit about Κυρία Βασιλική herself…and it was all fascinating. Κυρία Βασιλική was born in Mytilini, Lesvos (like our other featured More Kouppes star Κυρία Βασιλία). This was the beautiful place where her family settled after her grandfather swam there to safety, escaping war and oppression.
Κυρία Βασιλική attributes her love of cooking to her mother, who was an incredible cook. She spoke about her mother making dolmades filled with rice, nuts and raisins, all sorts of hortopites and all manner of desserts. She remembers learning to cook as young as 8 years old, spending hours in the kitchen, taking in all that she could. It was clearly this time spent learning from her mother, and her love of being in the kitchen, which helped make her the wonderful cook that she is today.
Although life in Mytilini was good, like so many others she was seeking a better life and so at the age of 17 she moved to Canada with one of her sisters. She immediately began working in the textile industry and a few years later, at the age of 19, she returned to Greece and married her older brother’s best friend. After the marriage the newlyweds returned to Canada and settled in Montreal for good. Here they continued to work hard and raised a son and daughter.
In hearing Κυρία Βασιλική speak about her family one can easily understand how it is that her children, adults now, have led such interesting and accomplished lives. Her son has experienced living, working and travelling in several foreign countries and is now an importer of Greek wines. Her daughter is a musician, opera singer and a wonderful music teacher, including being some of our daughters piano teacher. Κυρία Βασιλική went on to speak with pride about her grandchildren, and the fact that she is even a young great-grandmother! She laughed and explained that this is what can happen when you get married at 19. In speaking about raising children Κυρία Βασιλική emphasized, while pitting cherries, that children need to be given wings, and confidence to take chances. As parents, our role is to provide them with strong roots and a foundation of love and support, so that no matter how far they fly and how high they leap, they will always have a connection to who they are and a soft place to land. We realized at this point that getting the cherry kobosta recipe from Κυρία Βασιλική was really only a bonus.
This recipe and the techniques which follow are the result of years of trial and error, with many attempts resulting in cherries that had boiled down to nothing, a syrup which was too runny, or a flavor which was either too sweet, or not sweet enough. Κυρία Βασιλική is confident that she has now perfected her recipe, and we couldn’t agree more. We are sure that you will too.
A great cherry kobosta starts with great cherries. In Montreal it is difficult to find sour cherries (visina or βύσινα in Greek), which are common in Greece and serve as the base for many cherry spoon sweets. So, Κυρία Βασιλική uses sweet cherries for her kobosta, and it is delicious. When shopping for the fruit she advised us to look for the largest cherries we could find.
Your cherry kobosta will have to sit, covered, for 24 hours. It is important to place a paper towel under the lid in order to have it absorb the excess moisture which will be released. Check your paper towel periodically and change it as it becomes saturated.
A key element to making this recipe correctly is ensuring that the syrup is at the right consistency. The best way to do this is to place a tablespoon worth on a dish and move it around. It should be thick enough that it coats the plate and slowly moves as you tilt the dish. If it is too runny, you will need to boil it longer (without the cherries in the pot) until you reach the proper consistency.
When you are filling your jars try to be careful that you get plenty of cherries in there. The last thing you would want would be to have a jar full of syrup with only a few cherries.
Once your jars are filled, if you find that you have syrup left over, keep it. This makes a great sauce to pour over dessert and can even be added to a fresh lemonade as a sweetener and to enhance the flavour.
If you do not want to preserve your cherry kobosta, you can simply place the finished product in clean jars and keep them in the refrigerator.
We were advised by Κυρία Βασιλική to let the kobosta sit for at least a month before opening up a jar. The flavour develops during this time, the cherries plump up even more, and the whole experience of eating this cherry spoon sweet is that much more amazing. She seems to know what she is talking about, so we would take her advice here too! 🙂
There are so many ways to enjoy this cherry spoon sweet, and one of them is straight out of the jar. If you would like to be more civilized, then you can place a tablespoon or two on a pretty glass plate and serve it with coffee or water. The glass plate is not a requirement of course, although growing up this was always how spoon sweets were served. This cherry spoon sweet is also delicious over ice cream or plain yogourt.
We have described how to preserve the cherry spoon sweet in the actual recipe below. For more information on how to preserve your cherry kobosta you can consult this short article by clicking here and also this great article written by Amy Bronee which was featured on the Food Bloggers of Canada website.
Mia Kouppa: Cherry spoon sweet
- 6 pounds cherries
- 8 cups granulated white sugar, approximately
- 1 cup water
- juice of one lemon
- Remove the stems from your cherries and discard the stems.
- Rinse your cherries well, allowing them to drain in a colander.
- Prepare to pit your cherries. Place a handful of cherries at a time on a deep rimmed baking tray. Remove the pits carefully, allowing them to collect on the baking tray. Place your pitted cherries in a large bowl.
- Once you have removed the pits from all of your cherries you will see that you have quite a bit of cherry juice on your baking tray, along with the pits (Remember, the cherries themselves have been placed in a bowl). Add one cup of water to the baking tray and using your hand, move the pits around to release any additional juice that is on them, and to loosen any bit of cherry stuck to the pits.
- Pour the contents of the baking tray through a sieve set over a large bowl. Reserve the liquid which collects in the bowl and discard the pits which remain in the sieve. Pour the liquid into a large pot.
- Now it is time to add the cherries and the sugar to the large pot. You will be adding 2 parts cherries to 1 part sugar. The easiest way to do this is to find two of the same medium sized bowls (like large soup bowls). Fill one of the bowls twice with cherries, adding the fruit to the large pot. Then, fill the other bowl with sugar (only once) and pour this over the cherries. Repeat with the remaining cherries. For 6 pounds of cherries you will use approximately 8 cups of sugar.
- Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 10 minutes over medium heat. Carefully remove the foam which begins to collect on the surface of the cherry and sugar mixture. After 10 minutes, using a slotted spoon, remove the cherries carefully from the liquid and place the cherries in a colander set over a large bowl.
- Boil the liquid which is still in the pot for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the juice of one lemon to the liquid and return to a boil. Boil over medium heat for 15 more minutes (20 minutes total for this step). Return the cherries to the pot along with any liquid which drained off of the cherries while they were in the sieve.
- Return to a boil over medium heat for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the cherries for a second time and set them in the strainer.
- Boil the liquid in the pot for another 10 minutes. Return the cherries and any liquid in the bowl to the pot and boil over medium heat for 5 minutes. For the third and final time, remove the cherries and place them in the sieve.
- Bring the liquid to a boil for 5 minutes. Return the cherries and any liquid which has collected in the bowl and boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
- When the mixture in the pot has cooled, cover the pot with clean paper towels and place the lid on the pot. Set aside for 24 hours at room temperature. You should check your paper towels a few times during the 24 hours and replace them if they become moist.
- After 24 hours it is time to finish your cherry spoon sweet. Take some of the sauce out of the pot and pour it onto a small plate. Move your plate around to see how thick the sauce is; it should be thick enough that it drips very slowly across the plate. If the sauce is too thin, you will have to remove the cherries and add about 1/2 cup of sugar at a time to the liquid in the pot and boil it for 5 – 10 minutes, or until the liquid thickens up. At that point you return the cherries. Bring the cherry and sauce to a boil for 5 – 10 minutes. (Note, if your liquid was the right consistency to begin with, simply boil the liquid and cherries for 5 – 10 minutes).
- While your cherries are cooking, prepare your jars for canning. Wash your jars and screw band tops very well in hot soapy water. Set aside to dry.
- Carefully pour the hot cherry spoon sweet into your clean jars, leaving about 1/2 inch space from the top of the jar. Place the flat disc on the jars and secure with the screw top ring. Place your filled jars in a large pot of water and process them by bringing the water to a boil and boiling your jars for 15 minutes. Remove from the water and allow the jars to sit, untouched for several hours, until completely cooled.
- This cherry spoon sweet is best if left to sit for several weeks. Once your jar is opened, keep it in the refrigerator, where it will remain fresh for several weeks. Enjoy.