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How to Make Chocolate Covered Cherries

Chocolate-covered-cherries-the-cheap-gourmetOne of my most vivid childhood memories is the year my grandmother gave me my very own box of chocolate covered cherries.

They were packaged with two trays of candy and each delectable morsel was precisely positioned in its very own hole. I was a mere eight years old and I'm pretty certain that was the day I officially became a chocoholic.

Up until I was in my mid-30s, I didn't even know more than one kind of chocolate covered cherry existed. Believe it or not, I was so naïve that I thought only one company manufactured them and that they only came with liquid centers. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that chocolate covered cherries came in a multitude of varieties and flavors.

It happened about 20 years ago, when I met a woman who made all kinds of homemade candy. Her house was always filled with the scent of chocolate and other candy flavorings.

She was like a mad-scientist, trying to see how far she could go with her candy designs. If you've ever seen "Ace of Cakes" on the Food Network, you have an idea of the type of work she performed. Her creativity was amazing.

I was fortunate enough to learn some of her chocolate-making tricks, but the one I was most excited about was learning how to make chocolate covered cherries. Since that time, I have experimented with various recipes. I've made molded and fondant wrapped cherries, cherries with liqueur centers, and dried cherries dipped in chocolate.

I've soaked cherries in bourbon, rum and whiskey. I've added red chili pepper seasoning to the fondant and the chocolate. I've rolled chocolate covered cherries in chocolate covered coffee beans.

I even attempted to create the world's first margarita-flavored chocolate covered cherries, but so far that recipe hasn't worked out too well. There's nothing I won't try when it comes to chocolate cherries, but many things I wish I hadn't.

Of all the recipes I've tried, my all-time favorites are the molded chocolate covered cherries with a liquid fondant center, and the fondant wrapped cherries dipped in chocolate with the stem attached. Both of these recipes are relatively easy to make and can easily be adapted to suit your tastes.

Molded cherries make for a more elegant presentation. It's best to make these when the candy will be given as a gift or presented on trays at a party or meeting. Molded chocolate covered cherries do require the purchase of a candy mold and medium artist paintbrush.

Fondant wrapped chocolate covered cherries are better suited for those that prefer a "homemade" look. Hand-dipped chocolate covered cherries with stems are the kind that say, "I made these! Aren't you impressed by my skills?"

Regardless of the recipe you choose, it's best to purchase candy making ingredients from a cake or candy supply store. Wilton is one of the most reputable cake and candy making supply distributors in the world. You can easily find everything you need to make chocolate covered cherries at their website. Additionally, Wilton products can be found in most cake and candy supply stores, and many craft and hobby stores.

When making homemade chocolate covered cherries, you want to use candy wafers. Candy wafers are small discs of chocolate, which melt easily. They have a rich taste and a smooth texture, and are available in a variety of colors and flavors.

It's best to use a double-boiler to melt candy wafers. Double-boilers consist of two pots that fit together. Water is placed in the lower pot and the steam provides heat to the pot on top. Double-boilers help prevent accidental overheating of delicate foods such as chocolate or butter.

Fondant is a key ingredient in most chocolate covered cherries recipes. Fondant is made from sugar, water and corn syrup. You can make it at home, or buy ready-made fondant or powdered fondant mix in stores that specialize in cake decorating. If you make your own fondant, it will need to sit for 24 to 48 hours before using, so plan accordingly.

Now that you know where to purchase your candy making ingredients, let's take a look at how to make two of the most popular types of chocolate covered cherries -- molded with a liquid center, and fondant-wrapped and dipped.

Chocolate-covered-cherries-liquid-center-the-cheap-gourmetMolded Chocolate Covered Cherries with Liquid Center
Yield: 48 candy pieces

INGREDIENTS:

1 - 14-ounce bag of chocolate candy wafers - you can use milk or dark chocolate
2 - 12-ounce jars Maraschino cherries, drained, stem removed
1 cup basic fondant


DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Maraschino cherry juice to basic fondant and stir well. Fondant should be a medium consistency and slowly drip off the spoon. If it's too thick, continue to add cherry juice until it becomes the consistency you prefer.
  2. Pour chocolate candy wafers into the upper portion of the double-boiler pan; melt over medium-low heat; and gently stir until wafers are melted.
  3. Using a teaspoon, fill each candy mold half-way with melted chocolate. Using a medium artist brush, paint the sides of each mold with the chocolate; making certain the inside of each candy mold is coated all the way to the top.
  4. Place one Maraschino cherry in each mold. Add approximately 1/4-teaspoon of fondant to each cherry.
    Pour approximately 1/4-teaspoon melted chocolate over the top of each cherry and using the bottom of the spoon, gently spread chocolate over the top to ensure that there is a seal over each candy mold.
  5. Place cherries in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  6. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Remove cherries from the freezer and flip molds upside down on top of the wax paper. If the candy does not easily release from the molds, flex the molds a bit until the candy pops out.
  7. Place each chocolate covered cherry into a paper candy cup or wrap individually in foil, and place into a gift box or airtight container.

Chocolate covered cherries should be stored at room temperature to retain the liquid center. If you refrigerate or freeze them, allow them to return to room temperature before eating them. Otherwise, the center will be more of a nougat consistency, which depending on your taste could be a good thing!

Chocolate-covered-cherries-fondant-wrapped-the-cheap-gourmetFondant Wrapped Chocolate Covered Cherries
Yield: 48 candy pieces

INGREDIENTS:

1 - 14-ounce bag of chocolate candy wafers - you can use milk or dark chocolate
2 - 12-ounce jars Maraschino cherries, drained, with stems
1 cup basic fondant, rolled
You need to work fast when working with fondant, so it's best to make this recipe in two or three batches.

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Drain Maraschino cherries and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Arrange cherries on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. If you are not able to locate cherries with stems, you can use toothpicks or plastic olive picks to dip the cherries in chocolate.
  2. Pour chocolate candy wafers into the upper portion of the double-boiler pan; melt over medium-low heat; and gently stir until wafers are melted.
  3. Roll one-half of the fondant onto a cutting board or marble slab. Knead the fondant and press it out until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Pull off a small piece of fondant and wrap it around the entire cherry, except for the stem. Try to maintain a consistency in the thickness of the fondant as you wrap it around the cherry.
  4. Holding the cherry by the stem, dip into the melted chocolate. Gently roll it around until the entire cherry is covered. Work quickly; otherwise the heat from the chocolate will melt the fondant.
  5. Place the dipped cherry onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Once you have covered all the cherries, place the tray in the freezer and cool for 10 to 15 minutes. While your first batch of cherries is setting up, begin working on the second batch by repeating the steps above.

 

Basic Fondant Recipe
Yield: 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups granulated Sugar
1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1-1/2 cups boiling water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Butter the sides of a 1-1/2 quart saucepan.
  2. Combine all ingredients and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil.
  3. Allow mixture to cook, without stirring, to a soft ball stage of 238 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll need a candy thermometer in order to gauge the temperature of the candy.
  4. Pour the fondant onto a cookie sheet with sides. Do not scrape remaining fondant from sides of pan, as this could result in crystals forming in the fondant. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, scrape the fondant mixture from the edge of the cookie sheet toward the center. Spread the fondant evenly and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. When the fondant becomes stiff and turns white; pull it off the cookie sheet and knead it like bread dough, until it is free of lumps. Wrap the fondant in plastic wrap and place in a covered container for 24 to 48 hours.

 

Candy Making Supplies from eTundra.com

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