Friday, March 08, 2013

Chocolate Covered Cherry Candies

Two years ago, I made these for a dear woman at my church.  She loves chocolate covered cherries, and I love her, so I figured it was worth a shot.  Because they entail wrapping homemade fondant around a damp cherry, they're not as easy* as, say, peppermint patties, but oh, are they goooood.  Someone Else may also love chocolate covered cherries, but I'm not saying who.  Someone Else may have nibbled 6 or so for quality control.  Again, I'm not saying who.  (Chocolate stains? By my mouth?  Naw.)

These rich candies are awfully good, but I didn't let the ones that Someone Else ate ripen for the full 2 weeks before Someone Else gobbled them, so I can only tell you that if you eat them the next day or any of the 2 days following their making, the fondant will still be thick and gooey instead of fully liquid.  Obviously, that didn't keep me Someone Else from eating a half dozen of them.

I doubled the recipe, so halve what lies below for a single batch.

-4 and 1/2 to 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
-1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon reserved maraschino cherry juice
- a pinch of salt

2 jars of maraschino cherries, drained, reserving 1 tbsp. of juice (I didn't use the full two jars, perhaps because I ended up coating them fairly thickly with the fondant.)

-24-36 semisweet chocolate chips (depending on how thickly you coat the candies)
- 1 tbsp. butter or shortening

1. Cream butter, add a few cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth, add sweetened condensed milk, extracts, and salt, and then add remaining powdered sugar gradually until combined. Mix until smooth and then put in the refrigerator until firm.

2. Freeze the cherries in a single layer on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet for one hour.  (Drain the cherries as thoroughly as possible first.)

3.  Scoop 1-2 tsp. fondant, flatten in your palms, and wrap around each cherry, enclosing each completely.  Freeze these covered cherries on wax-paper lined cookie sheet for an additional hour (or longer) until easy to handle.

4.  In a double boiler or bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the chocolate chips and butter/shortening, stirring until smooth and melted.  Dip the cherries one at a time in the chocolate, coating completely, and then place on wax-paper lined sheets to harden. 

5.  Eat immediately for soft fondant in the middle; let ripen for 1 -2 weeks for liquid centers. 

*If you've never coated candies in chocolate before, I'd recommend practicing on a candy that's simple to dip first, such as the peppermint patties.  That way, you'll get the hang of it and have peppermint patties to eat, to boot.

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