Here’s an easy recipe for a Swiss-style cherry compote spiced with star anise and a dash of kirsch. My favorite way to serve it is over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
I started making Swiss Chriesibrägel (cherry compote) last year, after I found a recipe for it in my Betty Bossi cookbook. I’ve made a few modifications, based on other cherry compote recipes I’ve seen online, especially the ones from David Lebovitz and Migros Magazin. With fresh Swiss cherries in season again at our local farmer’s market, this was an easy treat to throw together this week. I recommend investing in a cherry-pitter though—something I never thought I would need, but now that I have one, it’s really useful (and relatively inexpensive!).
Chriesibrägel (Cherry Compote)
Recipe adapted from Betty Bossi’s “The Swiss Cookbook” (Zurich, 2010).
Contains: milk, wheat
1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) cherries
200 ml apple juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole star anise
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract (optional)
zest from half a lemon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1-2 teaspoons kirsch (optional)
1. Bring the first seven ingredients together to boil in a large saucepan (everything except the butter, flour and kirsch). Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. While the cherries simmer, make a paste with the unsalted butter and flour.
2. Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon to a separate bowl, allowing the juice to remain in the saucepan. Please note: the cherries should be softened, but not mushy.
3. Bring the juices to a boil and reduce heat. Gradually whisk in the butter and flour paste, and simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir in the kirsch until well-blended.
4. Pour the sauce over the cherries and serve—either warm or cool. If you refrigerate the compote, try to use it up within the next 24 hours or so.
Serving suggestions: ice cream, yogurt, crêpes, pancakes and waffles
Where to Sample Kirsch in Switzerland
Last summer, we traveled to Brunnen in the canton of Schwyz for a family vacation. While the kids were resting one afternoon, I visited Dettling—a well-known Swiss kirsch distiller that was founded in 1867. Kirsch is a clear fruit brandy made with cherries that has a 500-year Swiss history, particularly in central Switzerland. It’s this history that’s earned the Zuger Kirsch/Rigi Kirsch an AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) status. While I didn’t have time for Dettling’s 45-minute tour, I did have the chance to sample a few different kinds of kirsch in the retail shop. I ended up taking home two bottles—a sweet red-hued cherry liqueur and a bottle of kirsch recommended for both drinking and cooking.
If you’re interested in trying kirsch in Switzerland, in the place where its made, here’s a list of distillers you might consider visiting:
Updated: May 9. 2022