Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Homemade Chocolate Covered Cherries

As with everything else, I put off making the chocolate covered cherries (Christmas 2013) to the last minute.  That meant we had something to do while waiting to ring in the New Year (2014).  Chocolate covered cherries are a long process and I had never made them.  Ever since I had first tasted this delectable homemade candy (30 years ago!), I was determined to give it a try.
The fondant has to be made 24 hours ahead of time so I made it a full day ahead of New Year's Eve.  The cherries had to be thoroughly dried (save a small amount of the liquid).  Then on New Year's Eve we made Seven Layer Dip (which takes four hours to chill), chilled sparkling apple cider, and settled down to video-binge a long-anticipated cable series on DVD (we don't have cable).  
I dipped the very well dried cherries in the fondant which was melted in a double boiler.  These set on wax paper for one hour.  Then I dipped them in a mixture of chocolate chips and a small amount of shortening.  This worked very well, you just have to make sure you don't overheat the chocolate.  The chocolate covered cherries sit back on the wax paper for another two hours.  
We toasted New Year's Day with sparkling apple cider and the most divine chocolate covered cherries.  Then we blasted off our fire crackers for the whole neighborhood to see (since we live in the country).
I was surprised at how many different chocolate-covered cherry recipes there are out there.  Some seemed a little less demanding than this one.  Please let me know if you try this recipe and how it turned out for you.  I would like to try other recipes for chocolate-covered cherries if you have a favorite to share.
The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook
Prep: 1 hour
Stand: 24 hours
Cook:  1 hour
2-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
2-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 (10-ounce) jars maraschino cherries with stems
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 tablespoon shortening
  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes to wash down sugar crystals from sides of pan.  Uncover and cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches soft ball stage or candy thermometer registers 236 degrees.  Pour mixture onto a marble slab that has been sprinkled with cold water.  (Do not scrap pan.)  Let stand 4 minutes.  ***I just used a clean kitchen counter***
  2. Using a dampened metal scraper, pull sides of mixture into center repeatedly to ensure mixture cools evenly.  When mixture develops a yellowish tinge, continue working with dampened scraper, stirring mixture in a figure-8 motion.  When mixture suddenly turns white and becomes too stiff to stir, knead with wet hands until smooth and creamy enough to form a firm ball (about 10 minutes).  Place fondant in an airtight container, and let stand in a cool place at least 24 hours before using.
  3. Drain cherries, reserving liquid; place cherries on paper towels to drain for several hours or overnight.
  4. Place fondant in top of a double boiler; melt slowly over hot (not boiling) water, stirring constantly as it begins to melt.  Stir in 1 tablespoon reserved cherry liquid.  (Fondant should have the proper consistency for dipping when candy thermometer registers about 140 degrees.  Temperature should not rise above 140 degrees.)  If mixture seems to thick for dipping at this point, stir in one more tablespoon reserved cherry liquid.  Remove pan from heat, leaving fondant over hot water.
  5. Working quickly and holding by the stem, dip each cherry into warm fondant, allowing excess to drain back into the pan.  Place cherries, stem up, on wax paper; let stand 1 hour or until firm.
  6. Combine chocolate morsels and shortening in top of double boiler; bring water to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; cook until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally.  Remove pan from heat, leaving chocolate mixture over hot water.
  7. Holding by the stem, dip each cherry into warm chocolate mixture, allowing excess to drain back into pan.  Place cherries, stem up, on wax paper; let stand 2 hours or until firm.  Store cherries in an airtight container at room temperature.  Yield: 5 dozen.
Per cherry: Calories 68 Fat 1.6 g
Cholesterol 0mg Sodium 1mg

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