Why It Works
- Soaking cherries in liquor overnight gives them a boozy "adult" flavor.
- Making fondant from granulated sugar results in a clear, juicy center.
- A 48-hour rest lets the center fully liquify.
I grew up in a Russell Stover household. Every holiday and special occasion was marked with a box of chocolates that came from the local pharmacy. My dad's birthday and Father's day were my favorites, when we'd present him with his candy of choice: a long sleek box of chocolate-covered cherry cordials.
"Each juicy maraschino cherry exploded with flavor as it collapsed under the crisp chocolate shell. "
As soon as he took the lid off the box and lifted the white wafer paper, the heady aroma of chocolate mixed with cherry was already driving me nuts. Each juicy maraschino cherry exploded with flavor as it collapsed under the crisp chocolate shell. He'd keep the box in his top dresser drawer but I snuck as many as I could, mussing up the paper liners in the hope that he wouldn't notice. Let's just say that my dad's favorite candy became mine, and Russell Stover's style of chocolate-covered cherry is the only kind I like. That means it's gotta have a clear liquid filling. Not the slimy opaque pink or white fillings that resemble the sugary cream in a Cadbury egg. The burst of juicy fruit is what it's all about, and to me, a creamy filling just dulls it.
These chocolate-covered cherry cordials are exactly what I was looking for: a luscious, syrupy cherry encased in dark chocolate. I will admit that it's a somewhat challenging process to make the fondant, but it's absolutely manageable. Simpler recipes call for a paste made up of confectioners' sugar, butter, and cherry juice that's molded around the cherry before it's dipped in chocolate. At best, that ends up thick, milky, and way too sweet. To achieve a juicy clear cherry center, it has to start with a fondant made from granulated sugar.
To put the "adult" in these cordials, the cherries are first soaked overnight in a few tablespoons of liquor. I used Jack Daniels because it's what I had on hand, but any liquor will work—try brandy or even Grand Marnier. Long-stemmed cherries add the extra "wow" factor, and also make dipping easier. After the cherries are coated in fondant and then covered in chocolate, the wait is only two days for the center to become a slightly viscous cherry-flavored syrup. Dad would definitely approve.
A few tips:
- Using good quality chocolate will give superior results.
- Fondant can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container at room temperature before remelting.
- A marble slab is very convenient to work and cool the fondant, but a rimmed sheet pan can be substituted.
- If you get tired of working the fondant, you can take a rest for a few minutes and then resume.
- If after melting, the fondant is too thick to dip cherries, mix in extra cherry juice, half a teaspoon at a time, until a desired consistency is achieved.
- Make sure to completely coat the cherry with chocolate to prevent the syrup from leaking out.
- Chill the cherries for a minimum of 48 hours to allow the fondant to fully dissolve.
To Soak the Cherries:
24 maraschino cherries with stems
3 tablespoons bourbon or liquor of choice
For the Fondant:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
4 tablespoons liquid from maraschino cherry jar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
To Dip the Cherries:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Place cherries in small bowl with liquor. Cover and rest overnight, stirring occasionally.
Place cherries on paper towel-lined pan to dry, standing each cherry upright. In small saucepan, combine sugar, water, cherry juice, and light corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. When mixture comes to boil, stop stirring and continue to cook until mixture registers 240°F (116°C) on instant-read thermometer, occasionally brushing edge of pan with water to dissolve crystals.
Pour sugar syrup onto large marble slab or rimmed baking sheet set over a towel, and let cool until just barely warm, about 25 minutes. Using a bench scraper, scrape syrup up and over itself. Continue this motion while moving mass of thickened syrup back and forth across pan. Syrup will begin to thicken as it cools. Use an offset spatula to scrape syrup from bench scraper. Continue working fondant until mixture begins to turn from translucent to opaque, about 15 minutes.
Continue to work mixture back and forth across marble until it begins to thicken considerably, to the point of becoming a thick paste, about 15 minutes more. Transfer fondant to a small saucepan and set over low heat, stirring until just melted. Remove from heat.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Holding cherry by the stem, dip in fondant to coat, and set on prepared baking sheet. Remelt fondant if it thickens before cherries are finished dipping. Let fondant dry onto cherries, about 10 minutes.
Place chocolate in heatproof bowl set over pan of barely simmering water. Stirring gently, heat until about half of chocolate is melted. Remove bowl from heat and continue to stir chocolate until completely melted.
One by one, dip fondant-covered cherries in chocolate, covering completely and then allowing excess chocolate to drip from cherry. Set each cherry back on parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill at least 48 hours before serving.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 4g||5%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||11%|
|Total Carbohydrate 11g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||5%|
|Total Sugars 9g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||3%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|