Sweet Pickled Cherries with Smoked Mascarpone

Sweet Pickled Cherries with Smoked Mascarpone, Cherry Granita and Mint-Pepper Sugar

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-6

1kg fresh cherries, pitted
½ cup bourbon
¼ cup raspberry vinegar
½ cup-raw sugar
6 dried bay leaves
500g mascarpone
1 cup icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla paste
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
2 Tbsp castor sugar
juice of 1 lime


1 Combine ½ the cherries with the bourbon, vinegar, raw sugar and bay leaves in a medium saucepan. Set over a low heat and cook gently for 20 minutes until the cherries are just softened, then set aside cool completely. Strain the liquid into a separate saucepan, boil rapidly until syrupy, then return to the cherries.
2 Stir the mascarpone, icing sugar, vanilla and orange zest until smooth, then spread on the sides of a large mixing bowl. Cover with a triple layer of cling film, then insert the nozzle of a smoking gun loaded with apple wood chips. Smoke for 2 minutes then refrigerate.
3 Puree the remaining cherries, caster sugar and lime juice in a blender, then strain through a fine sieve. Pour into a ceramic dish as a shallow layer (no more than 3cm deep), then freeze until completely firm. Scrape with a fork to form granita crystals.
4 Spoon pickled cherries into the bottom of parfait classes, top with mascarpone, then granita.