Christmas is less than a week away. I confess that this year is one of the busiest I remember. So many things to be done within a limited time span. One of the things that has kept me busy is making chocolates. Years ago one of my sweet neighbors took me under her wing and set about to teach me how to make dipped and molded chocolates. One of the kinds she demonstrated was chocolate-covered cherries. I decided this week that my gift to you would be to show you how to make them yourself (step-by-step). Note: this is the way I was taught, but there are many variations.
Start out by assembling your ingredients. You’ll need the following:
- chocolate. I use milk chocolate wafers. I like Peter’s brand.
- maraschino cherries. Don’t buy the jumbo size (won’t fit).
- dry fondant. You can buy this at a cake supply store
I make my chocolate-covered cherries using a plastic mold which is made for this purpose. The mold gives them a uniform shape, which makes them look more professional. The down-side is that people may not appreciate all the work you’ve put into them because they may think they are store bought. You can buy molds at a cake decorating store or thru Amazon
- Cut each cherry in half and then pat the cherries dry on a paper towel. I used to make mine without attempting to dry them first. The result was that anyone biting into one would have cherry juice squirt out at them (especially if wearing a particularly nice outfit). A man at the confection store I buy my products from told me to dry them off to reduce this problem. Mind you, they still can be messy, so I recommend placing the entire chocolate in one’s mouth before biting! Also, DO NOT discard the cherry juice!
- Place chocolate wafers in a microwaveable bowl. I use paper bowls that are microwave safe for easy clean-up. Notice how I’m not giving you amounts of ingredients to use, as it is a sort of trial and error for me. Melt chocolate on high for 30 seconds and then stir. Continue this process, adding another 10 seconds in the microwave each time, until the wafers are almost melted. I recommend not waiting until they are completely melted because you risk burning your chocolate. Just stir the almost melted waters until they finish melting.
- Using a teaspoon (again I use plastic so I can just throw it out), place a small amount of chocolate in one of the candy mold impressions and drag the chocolate up the side to the top. Coat all the sides of each mold, but be careful to use as little chocolate as possible. Too much will not leave enough room for the other ingredients and will make the candy hard to bite into.
- Put your chocolate-coated molds in the freezer (flat surface). They will only need to stay in for a minute or two to set. If you neglect to put them in (maybe because the chocolate set up while you were working on other molds), they will not have a shiny appearance. If you keep them in the freezer for an extended time, they will have a whitened surface.
- While waiting, prepare your fondant. Mix a large
amount of dry fondant with a little of the cherry juice from the maraschino cherry jar. I can tell you that I always put in way too much juice and then have to compensate with more fondant powder. In the end, it should be difficult to stir and the final consistency should be similar to play-dough and be rollable in your hands.
- Take your form out of the freezer and put a somewhat dry cherry
half in each chocolate-coated depression. Next roll a small amount of fondant into a ball (start with a half teaspoon size). The pink fondant should be gently pressed down over the cherry and should fill up most of the rest of the space.
- Spoon more melted chocolate (you may have to microwave it a bit to have it flowable) over the top of the fondant, trying to stay level
with the top of the form and seal up the fondant/cherry underneath. If you leave it too high, like I usually do, it will have an interesting rocking motion when it’s put on a serving plate.
- Return the completed chocolates to the freezer for another minute or two.
- Remove from freezer and invert onto waxed paper. There usually is a little “flashing” around the edge to be trimmed, but be careful, as you could easily cut into the inside chamber. Don’t ask me how I know this.
There are many ways to present these as gifts. You can buy boxes to put them in, put them on paper plates and wrap in colored cellophane, or buy a festive plate at your local goodwill store to present them on. It really doesn’t matter because they will be gobbled up quickly. I have to warn you – you may be starting a tradition people will request again and again!
Have a Very Merry Christmas. Make sure that in all the buying, baking, wrapping, and eating this season to take a moment to remember the real reason for the season – the birth of Jesus. Without Him there would not be a reason to celebrate and our lives would be empty no matter what we tried to fill it with.