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Warm Skillet Sour Cherries with Vanilla Ice Cream

['1 cup sugar', '1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice', '1 tablespoon unsalted butter', '1 1/2 lb fresh or thawed frozen sour cherries, pitted (2 1/2 cups)', '2 tablespoons kirsch', 'Premium vanilla ice cream', 'Accompaniment: bakery butter cookies']

Rub together sugar and lemon juice in a 12-inch heavy skillet with your fingertips until mixture resembles wet sand. Heat over moderately high heat, swirling skillet slowly, until sugar is melted and pale golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add butter and swirl skillet until incorporated, about 30 seconds (mixture will bubble up). Add cherries, swirling skillet to coat, and bring to a boil (cherries will exude liquid; caramel will harden). Cook cherries, swirling skillet, until caramel is dissolved, 5 to 8 minutes. Pour through a medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl, then return liquid to skillet and boil until reduced to about 3/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, then add cherries and kirsch. Return to stove and boil 30 seconds.
Spoon warm cherries into shallow bowls and top with scoops of ice cream.

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