Cherries Jubilee is just that—an ecstatic mishmash of fruit and booze meant to be poured over ice cream or cake, or even both! I wanted a version with more depth, a little spice, and some herbal notes, so I tossed chopped fennel and black pepper into the mix. It did not disappoint. —Samantha Weiss Hills
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the butter. When the butter is hot and beginning to bubble, add the cherries. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes, until the cherries begin to soften and the skillet is substantially covered with the juice of the cherries.
Add the brown sugar and stir with a rubber spatula until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the brandy. (At this point, you have the option to light everything on fire. While this is traditionally done tableside for added effect at the end, here it provides a small amount of smokiness to the mix.) Cook the cherries until almost all of the alcohol has evaporated and the sauce in the skillet looks syrupy.
Add the diced fennel along with the ground fennel, and season with freshly ground black pepper. Remove the skillet from the heat and fold the fennel in with the warm cherries and syrup. Let the skillet sit undisturbed for 2 minutes, letting the residual heat from the skillet meld the flavors of the fennel and the cherries. Taste and adjust as necessary with more freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately over slices of pound cake and ice cream.