You know that the holidays have arrived here at Chiot’s Run when you see chocolate covered cherries on the counter. I usually try to start making my famous chocolate covered cherries the week after Thanksgiving. This year, I was too busy so I started last Wednesday evening. I don’t really making cookies during this season, I spend my time making chocolate covered cherries and a few peanut butter cups. I also make a few batches of caramel corn for the wonderful people at the post office and the library.
These cherries are famous. A week or two before Thanksgiving people start asking about them, wondering if I’ve started making them yet. They want to make sure I remember to make them and they want to make sure I remember that they’re on “the list”.
Making cherries isn’t difficult, but it is time consuming, especially if you use real chocolate that you have to temper (which I use on about 2/3 of my cherries). It’s as simple as making a fondant to wrap around the cherries and then dipping them in chocolate. I’ve developed a few tips during my 10 year cherry dipping career. The fondant recipe below is the best, I’ve tried 10-15 different recipes and this is the easiest to work with because of the corn syrup. You can buy non-GMO corn syrup at your health food store if you’d like. Using anything else; milk, golden syrup, honey, maple syrup, etc. makes the fondant stickier and much harder to wrap around the cherries without a big mess!
Make sure you get the fondant fairly thin, too thick and it won’t turn into liquid. I cut the fondant into small balls and knead each piece, then flatten into a disc to wrap around each cherry. Kneading the fondant makes it smooth and warms it making it more pliable for easy wrapping. You don’t have to chill your fondant if your kitchen is cool.
I find that wrapping the disc around each cherry, then cutting off any excess before rolling works perfectly. I lightly roll them between my hands to smooth out the fondant, don’t use too much pressure or you’ll make the cherry leak juice which will turn your fondant into a sticky mess. Keeping a bowl of confectioners’ sugar close for dipping your hands and cherries into will help in case this happens. If you have a cherry that starts to produce juice too soon, simply dip in powdered sugar and then roll lightly between hands. Keep a wet rag and a dry towel around as well to clean your hands every so often. This keeps the process moving along smoothly.
I have found that putting parchment paper on the the cookie sheet and coating it with shortening makes it much easier to remove the cherries once they’re cooled and set. If you don’t do this they often stick, when when you pick them up they leave a small bit of fondant stuck to the sheet and then they start to leak juice.
Make sure you chill your cherries for at least an hour in the fridge before dipping. If you don’t allow the fondant to cool and set up, it will have a tendency to melt with the heat of the chocolate and start to drip off the cherries with the chocolate.

50 maraschino cherries, well drained
3 tablespoons room temperature butter
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 pounds dipping chocolate, white or dark

Combine butter, corn syrup and salt; blend until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix well. Knead until smooth and shiny; wrap in wax paper and chill for 30 minutes (if your kitchen is cool this may not be needed).

Meanwhile, drain cherries. Shape a marble-size piece of fondant around each cherry; place on wax paper-lined tray. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.

Melt chocolate according to kind you’re using (tempering real chocolate or simply melting to dipping consistency for chocolate coating). Dip cherries and place on wax paper-lined tray (I find those tiny muffin cups to be perfect, especially if you’re making different kinds (brandied & regular), they’re easy to keep separate if you use different colored cups for each kind). Store in covered container in a, cool dark place for 10 to 14 days to fully ripen and to attain the “liquidy” inside.

Brandied Cherries
Soak cherries in brandy for a minimum of 2 days (I soak mine for up to 1 year, but a week or two will do). Omit almond extract and add 1/2 teaspoon brandy flavoring or brandy instead. Follow recipe as stated above.

Next year I’m going to try to make my own maraschino cherries. I’m sure these will be even more delicious if I use fresh local cherries. I may even leave the pits in them to provide the natural almond flavor that comes from cherry stones. I’ll have to find a farm where I can pick them myself so I can make sure I get some with stems.

What are you famous for during the holidays? Or what is someone else famous for that you love?

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21 Responses to The First Sign of Christmas

  1. Daphne says:

    When the kids were smaller and still in the house, we used to make cookies. But not just any cookies. We would make round the world cookies. We would pick about eight kinds from different countries and cook them up. Then we would make baskets with the cookies and little flags for each country and put them on toothpicks and hand them out to the neighbors. But that was a long time ago. Then for years I made fudge, but I haven’t done that in a couple of years. Now that the kids are in college I try to keep most of the treats out of the house. I’d just eat them :>
    .-= Daphne´s last blog ..Harvest Monday – 14 December 2009 =-.

  2. Tree says:

    I love chocolate covered cherries, they are my absolute fav this time of year, I always thought they would be harder to make. Do you make your own marichino cherries too? Or do you buy those? Mmmmmm these look so I good I am going to have to buy some as I haven’t seen any this year.
    .-= Tree´s last blog ..Priceless =-.

  3. Teresa O says:

    Your chocolate covered cherries are beautiful! When my mom was with us we gathered in her kitchen each year and spent a day making candy. Three daughters and one sister-in-law crowded around the table making buckeyes, chocolate covered cherries, several kinds of fudge, brittle, caramels, and divinity. What fun we had. I could never get the fondant to liquefy so eventually making homemade chocolate covered cherries fell by the wayside. Who knows, perhaps it’s time to put them back on the holiday creating menu.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your post and sighing over the delicious photos.
    .-= Teresa O´s last blog ..These Things I Love… =-.

    • Susy says:

      Waiting 2-3 weeks really helps give the fondant time to liquefy. I also found that this recipe with some salt helps as well, as does keeping the fondant thin. After a few weeks they’re pretty juicy, although we enjoy them right away as well.

  4. pam says:

    my all time favorite at christmas…these look fabulous! so hungry already and it is only 10AM here.

  5. Morgan G says:

    My aunt TT makes the most mouth-watering braided rolls for the holidays. They are so perfect, I don’t even butter them up.
    .-= Morgan G´s last blog ..Hand-dipped Beeswax Candles =-.

  6. Michelle says:

    Right now…after gazing upon those glorious chocolate covered cherries, I don’t CARE what I’m famous for!!

    Oh my goodness…chocolate covered cherries are my absolute favorite. I am not a cookie baker, either…I may just have to give this recipe a try. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing! I have a friend who makes them just like this…but she won’t share the recipe!!!
    .-= Michelle´s last blog challenge: no faces. =-.

  7. You have some VERY lucky family and friends! Those look marvelous…

    I make a chocolate covered coconut balls that are a pain in the arse to make the everyone loves! Kim
    .-= the inadvertent farmer´s last blog ..Not Me Monday the Bread Bandit! =-.

  8. Lisa says:

    Oh, my husband loves these and if I make them tomorrow, they should be close to ready for the vacation week he’s taking off between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Must keep it secret! Thanks for the recipe.

  9. Dan says:

    Wow, those look excellent. I have been eating chocolate covered cherries with liquor in them from Italy, very good. I think I will have to try out your recipe once they are all gone.
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..Harvest Monday =-.

  10. Nell Jean says:

    Those look so good! I would never get around to making homemade cordial cherries, but those just look scrumptious.

    I received a ‘family cookbook’ in the mail today that my cousin’s granddaughter put together for their family. It is just such fun to read recipes that have a history and little notes alongside. It was fun to read your tutorial. Thank you.
    .-= Nell Jean´s last blog ..Poll Results: What Readers Want to See =-.

  11. Julia says:

    My mother used to make croissants every Christmas morning. It was so rich and I still think of it fondly. These chocolate covered cherries are pretty insane. You have incredibly skill and patience!
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Winter Squash Redux: Bread, Soup and Savory Bread Pudding =-.

  12. C aultman says:

    Thank you for the tutorial. I am always looking for something new to try and this looks like a lot of fun.
    .-= C aultman´s last blog ..2009 Christmas Light Parade……. =-.

  13. […] I was in the kitchen, I also made these chocolate covered cherries that I saw a recipe for yesterday. While I fear maraschino cherries are “food” instead of food, I had them […]

  14. Miranda says:

    I used to live by a maraschino cherry factory: was not pretty. Vats of cherries being bleached, then sweetened. Smelled awful and really freaked me out: i hope you’ll learn how to do it so that you know your cherries aren’t spending time in freaky cherry internment camp.

    Famous: my family makes these cookies called “Chocolate Variety Cookies.” You make a chocolatey dough, form balls and squish with a little glass. We’ve been making them since i was a wee tyke, but at some point we started storing them in the freezer: make them keep longer? prevent us from gorging ourselves? Whatever the reason, we hit the jackpot on delicious: my sister and i call these cookies the “suck the coldness out” cookies. Frozen, you take them out, nibble around the edges, then suck the coldness out – you’re left with a fudgey delicious dough. It’s amazing.
    .-= Miranda´s last blog ..Yellow Split Pea Soup =-.

  15. […] no cards, flowers, candy or jewelry is exchanged here at Chiot’s Run. I may make a batch of chocolate covered cherries for us to enjoy. Even though we don’t celebrate, I love Valentine’s day stuff. I don’t know […]

  16. […] home late and I’ll be processing cherries all day. I’ll be making maraschino cherries for my Christmas chocolate covered cherries and I’ll be dehydrating lots of them for snacking. I may make some jam, and I may freeze some as […]

  17. alecia says:

    Your ch covered cherries look so pretty- thought they would be more difficult to make- thanks for sharing- I may try to make some this year- I have been reading all your cherry posts this morning- asked the co op here to make sure they had some dwarf cherry trees in their fruit tree order – I dream about loads of cherries in the upcoming years.

    thanks for sharing

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