Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Chocolate Covered Cherries

I have loved these chocolate covered cherries since I was a young girl.  They just seem to epitomize the holiday season.  They are not hard to make, but I'll warn you and say that the process is a bit messy, as you are rolling these with your hands.  Then requires the hard part - patience!  You need to put them away in a container somewhere and let them "ripen" so the sugared center will have time to get all soft and squishy.  Oh, don't get me wrong... they will taste great minutes after they are made.  But the quintessential chocolate covered cherries have that wonderful gooey center.  And for that - you gotta wait!

I remember making these with my mother as a young girl.  Somehow, when our "ripening time" was up, we discovered that only a few of them remained.  My step dad had somehow ferreted out our "safe" hiding spot and had been pilfering them during that time.  At the time, I'm sure I was spitting mad at him, but somehow when I think of it now, it's just one of those stories that makes up your sweet childhood memories. 

Print this Recipe!

Ingredients:  (yield 4 dozen candies)
  • 6 Tbsp softened butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 almond extract
  • 1 tsp cherry syrup
  • 48 jarred maraschino cherries 
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 oz paraffin wax

Step-by-Step:
Making the sugared center - First, cream the butter well with a mixer in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Then, carefully mix all of the first six ingredients together. 

6 Tbsp softened butter
You will want to mix in the powdered sugar in increments so you don't end up covered with it.  I used my hand mixer as it seemed easiest for this job. 
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp milk + 1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 almond extract + 1 tsp cherry syrup
Mix.
The sugar coating will seem stiff and pretty sticky.  Allow the sugar mixture to chill 30 minutes in the freezer. 
While the sugar mixture is chilling, drain your cherries.
48 jarred maraschino cherries 
You can see that my bowl is frosty.  I did the freezer trick, and I'm ready to go!
Covering the cherries -  It's helpful if you have a plate (with sides) into which you have dumped a scoop of powdered sugar.  There's no way you aren't gonna have messy hands, so you may as well go ahead and embrace it.  I do strongly recommend, however, that you remove any jewelry you have on your hands. 
Portion out a sugar dough ball about the size of a quarter.  The heat from your hands will start softening it more quickly than you think, so work fast.  Mold the icing somewhat around the cherry.  Drop it in the powdered sugar, then roll it around quickly in your hands to help evenly distribute it.  Set the completed ones back on a cool sheet pan that you have prepared with waxed or parchment paper. 

Dipping them in chocolate -  Tip - Before dipping the cherries, set your sheet pan in the freezer to get really cold.  That will help the chocolate set really quickly.  Then add a sheet of parchment or waxed paper to set them on.  This will ensure an easy release.

Melt the chocolate and paraffin over a "double boiler" on the stove top over simmering water.  You don't need anything fancy - just set a bowl over a medium sized saucepan with some water in the bottom of it.  Take care that you don't get even one drop of water into the chocolate.  Stir until melted and smooth.   I use the Gulf Brand paraffin wax that is frequently used for candy making.  
2 oz paraffin wax
1 (12oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

I double dipped the cherries to avoid having a weak spot on the bottom.  I dipped the bottoms only at first, then once I had dipped all of them once, the first ones had set up enough for a full immersion dip.  I used a bamboo skewer to dip them, them quickly patched the hole with melted chocolate from my spoon.  Make sure there is NONE of the pink sugar mixture showing, or they will leak.  Set them out on parchment paper or waxed paper.
 Finally, I gave them all a drizzle of chocolate with a fork dipped into the melted chocolate. 

Now... just wait a few days to eat them!  Whaaat?!!  Yep.  You heard me.   Tip - After the chocolate has set up and hardened, you can store them in a covered container somewhere safe for a while.  If you see any that have an incomplete bottom (with the icing showing), I would advise you to patch them up with a bit of extra melted chocolate before storing them.  Otherwise, when the center liquifies, it will leak out.  Do not store them in the refrigerator, as this will only slow down the process of softening the center.  Just find a nice spot in the pantry or something where other people aren't going to notice them. 


I hope you enjoyed this recipe!  I got to share these with several people that I love (family, friends, neighbors, coworkers)... so we all enjoyed them very much.  At any rate, there are tons more great ideas for you and your family on my Recipe Index

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Written Method - 
Making the sugared center - First, cream the butter well with a mixer in a medium sized mixing 30
minutes in the freezer.
bowl.  Then, carefully mix all of the first six ingredients together.  You will want to mix in the powdered sugar in increments so you don't end up covered with it.  I used my hand mixer as it seemed easiest for this job.  The sugar coating will seem stiff and pretty sticky.  Allow the sugar mixture to chill

Covering the cherries -  It's helpful if you have a plate (with sides) into which you have dumped a scoop of powdered sugar.  There's no way you aren't gonna have messy hands, so you may as well go ahead and embrace it.  I do strongly recommend, however, that you remove any jewelry you have on your hands.  Portion out a sugar dough ball about the size of a quarter.  The heat from your hands will start softening it more quickly than you think, so work fast.  Mold the icing somewhat around the cherry.  Drop it in the powdered sugar, then roll it around quickly in your hands to help evenly distribute it.  Set the completed ones back on a cool sheet pan that you have prepared with waxed or parchment paper.

Dipping them in chocolate - Before dipping the cherries, set your sheet pan in the freezer to get really cold.  That will help the chocolate set really quickly.  Then add a sheet of parchment or waxed paper to set them on.  This will ensure an easy release.

Melt the chocolate and paraffin over a "double boiler" on the stove top over simmering water.  You don't need anything fancy - just set a bowl over a medium sized saucepan with some water in the bottom of it.  Take care that you don't get even one drop of water into the chocolate.  Stir until melted and smooth.  I double dipped the cherries to avoid having a weak spot on the bottom.  So I dipped the bottoms only at first, then once I had dipped all of them once, the first ones had set up enough for a full immersion dip.  I used a bamboo skewer to dip them, them quickly patched the hole with melted chocolate from my spoon.  Finally, I gave them all a drizzle of chocolate with a fork dipped into the melted chocolate.  Now... just wait a few days to eat them!  Whaaat?!!  Yep.  You heard me.

Tip - After the chocolate has set up and hardened, you can store them in a covered container somewhere safe for a while.  If you see any that have an incomplete bottom (with the icing showing), I would advise you to patch them up with a bit of extra melted chocolate before storing them.  Otherwise, when the center liquifies, it will leak out.  Do not store them in the refrigerator, as this will only slow down the process of liquifying the center.  Just find a nice spot in the pantry or something where other people aren't going to notice them. 

20 comments:

  1. Oooh, I know what my grandmother is getting for Christmas this year! Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  2. wow! It's a new idea to me ..that is chocolate covered cherries...sounds interesting to me....My kids love to eat chocolate and don't love to eat fruits...So If i follow your idea ..then they might eat cherry because it's covered with chocolate...this is gonna be a great innovative idea...thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have never heard of using paraffin wax before. Is there a certain reason, to maybe help the chocolate's shelf life, or to keep it from breaking? I am very curious! lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paraffin wax is widely used on fruits, vegetables, and candy to make them shiny and pretty as well as to retard moisture loss and spoilage. It is is often added to chocolates, as it gives the chocolate candy a nice, glossy finish and helps it remain solid at room temperature. For those uncomfortable with the idea, you can use an alternative chocolate flavored candy coating.

      Delete
  4. This is EXACTLY how my mother has made these for years and years and years (with the paraffin and everything - and the waiting. She likes to make on the day after Thanksgiving so that they are ready for Christmas) but have never even thought of putting the pan in the freezer before dipping. Or double dipping. These are great tips!!!! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laura... glad I could bring back some sweet memories for you! :)

      Delete
  5. Our ADULT version... Drain the all the juice from the cherries, can be saved if you have a use for it... Refill the jar with your favorite booze, we used brandy, and let it soak for at least a month... Then make the creme filling by using the booze in the jar with the powdered sugar to put in for filling, more booze can be added if not enough... These need to be separate from the kids version, and not stored with them for safety sake.... Excellent but we forgot 3 jars in the fridge and found them about a year later.... Now those were super good ones, and we have plastic molds for them we paint with the chocolate, then the cherry, then the filling before covering up with more chocolate.. Very yummy and potent...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like a winner to me!!! Send some over next time! :)

      Delete
  6. Where do u buy parafin wax? This is my grandmas favorite candy and I am excited to try and make these for xmas

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually purchased this at the grocery store in the canning section. Ask your grocer.

      Delete
  7. I have been making chocolate covered cherries for several years and your recipe is similar to mine, but the one thing I do that you don't is I use the cherries with the stems... using the stem for the dipping rather than the bamboo stick, and leaving the stem in place until eaten.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a fabulous way to do it, I completely agree! I just didn't have availability of any like that at the time. I learned many years ago in OT school to adapt things. Thanks for sending the comment. :)

      Delete
  8. Is the cherry syrup in your recipe from the jar of cherries?

    ReplyDelete
  9. HI! Im wondering if you have any advice as to how long these would keep? I'd like to get a head start on candies for Christmas this year, but I can't find any solid answers about the shelf life of homemade candies. Do you think 2 weeks ahead of time is too early? Thanks!
    Kaylene

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kaylene,

      There are so many factors, including what temperature you keep your home. If you keep them in a COOL, airtight container, away from the heat and humidity (think.... pantry in a rubbermaid or tupperware container) they should last for 2-3 weeks. Heat and humidity are the culprits of spoilage and stickiness of homemade candies.
      And on the flipside, you don't necessarily want to put them in the fridge, because once you do the chocolate will develop white spots on them when you take them out.

      Julie

      Delete

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