Every year at Christmas I declare I am going to make chocolate covered cherries like Mom did every Christmas. It was a yearly thing when I was growing up and involved the entire family. Ok it was really a private declaration, but I do tell myself I will, and every year I get busy and don't get around to it util Christmas Eve and then I just don't do it because it is a messy process and who wants a mess then?
This morning I got a phone call at 7 and it was TheHub letting me know he had walked off for work with my keys in his suit pocket??? He works on the other side of town and even though he said he would bring them back to me later in the day, I know how he works and something always comes up that requires his attention. I figured he would not be here before mid-day at best (but I honestly was not expecting him at all)
If I was going to be stuck at home I figured it was as good of a time as any to get a couple of Christmas goodies baked, then got hit with a lightning bolt idea. "You have all morning and the ingredients. Make the blooming chocolate covered cherries"
Small jar maraschino cherries, drained
(I prefer the stemmed ones)
1/2 cup butter, softened (I have used margarine in the past)
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 tablespoon milk (cream or almond milk work as well)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Cream the butter then add the confectioners sugar. Beat well with a mixer or strong arm it with a wooden spoon. I don't care which method you use and the end result is the same. I tend to use a wooden spoon only because I like to have the easiest clean up possible, plus I can be delusional and pretend I am burning enough calories while stirring to offset a finished cherry. Add the milk and vanilla and stir to make a thick buttercream. (Almost the consistency of play dough)
This is where the mess begins. Take an amount of the paste about twice the size of your cherries and roll it into a ball, then flatten it into a patty about the size of a chocolate covered mint. The heat from your hands will cause the paste to soften so work quickly.
Place the cherry in the center and kind of pinch it to cover as much of the cherry as you can.
Then roll it into a ball, leaving the stem sticking out of the top of the ball. Place them on a plate but make sure they do not touch. When they are all covered pop them in the refrigerator.
Melt unsweetened* (Yes, I wrote that correctly) chocolate in a double boiler, or if you are like me put a small coffee mug in a pan of water and put the chocolate in it. This is an imprecise amount. I start with about 3 ounces of unsweetened squares. I use Baker's because that is what I find in the stores regularly. I am sure you can find much better, but since I am just using it for dipping these, the Baker's is perfectly fine. I add a little butter to the chocolate to make it set a little better. My mom used to use paraffin but I try to refrain from ingesting petroleum products. You can use shortening instead of butter but I don't use it so it is something I do not keep. (The last time I bought any, it stayed in the pantry so long it was rancid)
Now we find the reason I prefer stemmed cherries. I hold the stem and dunk them in the melted chocolate. let the excess drip back into my dipping mug and set them on a wax paper covered baking sheet. That's right! I got on my high horse about not ingesting petroleum products but will use waxed paper. I suppose I could butter parchment paper to create my own, but that is just a step I am not willing to take.
When all have had a chocolate bath and are resting I stick the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for them to set. When the chocolate is firm I take (peel) them off the waxed paper and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
The finished product!
And because I am a selfless human, I sacrificed and bit into one so y'all could see the interior.
(Also because of the sacrifice and my aversion to wasting food, I HAD to eat it)
And as long as I am dipping and messy I might as well go ahead and dip the pretzels I found in the pantry along with a package of white chocolate bits.