Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Covered Cherries

Last year one of my neighbors told me about her family tradition of making homemade chocolate-covered cherries.  She explained the whole process to me and then copied her recipe for me.

Her recipe was written long ago by a family member who has since passed away.  I so appreciate the nostalgia of seeing a hand-written family recipe.

I'm sure you can't quite read it from the picture, so I'll interpret for you.

  • Large jar Maraschino cherries
  • 2 lbs. confectioner's sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • Chocolate for coating
Last year I had to buy several small jars of cherries.  This year I lucked out and found this giant jar:

These cherries are already pitted and have the stems removed.  I pulled the cherries out of the jar and laid them on several layers of paper towels in a pan.

Then I put the pan in the fridge so the cherries could simultaneously drain and chill.

Then I melted a stick of butter in a large bowl.

Then I added the sweetened condensed milk and the powdered sugar.

Then I made a curly-headed little girl very happy by letting her stir.

Then I wrapped the mixture in clear plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill.

The next day I pulled out the chilled cherries and filling.

I took a portion of filling (maybe 1-2 teaspoons?) and flattened it in my (very clean) palm.

Then I placed a cherry in the center.

Then I wrapped the filling around the cherry and rolled it into a nice ball with the cherry safely tucked inside.

Then I repeated the process 85 times.

The covered cherries were placed on wax paper, and they went back in the fridge to chill some more.

After I covered 86 cherries, I still had some of the white filling stuff left over.

I didn't want to just throw it away, so I got an idea.

I added 3 drops (yes, exactly 3 drops) of Creme de Menthe (mint flavoring) to the filling.  I just kneaded it in.

I formed the minty white filling into little discs and chilled them.

Once everything was chilled, I melted my chocolate.  I really like this chocolate (I found it at Hobby Lobby and used my 40% off coupon):

Last year I bought the dark chocolate, which is probably a better pairing with the sweet cherries and sweet filling, but this year I decided to try the milk chocolate.  I like how smoothly this chocolate melts.  I put some chocolate in a glass measuring cup and microwaved it 30 seconds at a time (stirring after each 30-second interval) until it was melted through.

Then I worked in batches so the covered cherries would stay chilled.  One at a time, I dipped a covered cherry into the chocolate, let the excess chocolate drip off, and placed the chocolate-covered cherry onto a pan lined with wax paper.

They went back into the fridge so the chocolate could harden.

Once the chocolate was set, I tried to break/cut off the extra chocolate that pooled under the cherries and made sorta chocolate feet.  That worked for some, but for others I ended up breaking off more chocolate than I wanted to.

So I decided not to care about having perfectly round finished treats.

One coat of chocolate almost never seals the cherries sufficiently.  You have to inspect every single covered cherry for cracks or holes where the filling and cherry juice will leak out.

Last year I touched up each individual crack and flaw to make sure each treat was completely sealed.  This year I decided just to double dip each cherry.  I used up all the chocolate with this method, and the final covered cherries are very oddly shaped, but I think they're sealed.

I also dipped the mint discs in chocolate, but apparently I forgot to take a picture of those.

Then the chocolate treats went into plastic containers.  The mints are ready to eat right away.  The chocolate-covered cherries have to sit for a couple weeks before they're finally ready to eat.  In the meantime, the juice that's still in the cherries mixes with that white filling to create a soft, creamy, oozy center.  Totally worth the wait!


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