Cherry Cordials from Grandma
aka Home-made Chocolate Covered Cherries
One of the first Christmas gifts my husband received from my Grandma was her famous home-made chocolate-covered cherries. I call them famous because in our family they were a treasured gift to receive and even though Grandma has not been with us for almost thirty years, the legacy of her sweet, cherry confections are still fondly remembered. The cherry cordials she so lovingly made and shared during the holiday season is still often remembered by many, including my in-laws. They consider Grandma a genius in the candy-making department because of the excellent taste and perfection she achieved in her sweet craft.
Therefore, Grandma’s shoes were extra large to fill and that made it particularly intimidating for me to attempt making her chocolate-covered cherries. However, I decided to finally give it a try to see what I might come up with. I wanted to surprise my husband with a sweet treasure we both pleasantly remembered from over thirty years before.
The Basic Process . . .
So here goes . . . First of all, there are three main ingredients that go into conquering this legacy in candy making. I have learned that the main area, and most difficult part, is making the white fondant which envelopes each cherry before it is drowned in chocolate. The fondant process is a lot more difficult than I imagined and has given me a much greater appreciation of what it really meant for Grandma, and all she endured, when she created her masterpieces.
When the fondant is mellowed to perfection as stated in the recipe, it is then ready to wrap around a maraschino cherry, with stem still attached. But, before wrapping, the cherry is removed from the jar and allowed to dry so it is mostly free of its packing juice. I then freeze the fondant wrapped cherry overnight which makes the later drenching of the cherry in chocolate much easier.
Now for a Little Cordial Cherry Science
According to Wikipedia, the cherry cordial is defined this way . . . a type of confection in which a fruit filling is placed within a chocolate shell. A well known confectionery of this type is the cherry cordial. The liquid center inside is made using invertase to hydrolyze sucrose in the filling, a process which can take up to two weeks.
Invertase is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis(breakdown) of sucrose (table sugar).The resulting mixture of fructose and glucose is called inverted sugar syrup. Invertase is usually derived from yeast. It is also synthesized by bees, which use it to make honey from nectar.
Chocolate-covered cherries include the enzyme invertase, which liquefies the sugar. This explains where that yummy, syrupy center in a chocolate-covered cherry comes from. And that the timely process of how that syrup is created is a vital part of making a cordial cherry. It's the part that requires much patience and allows your candy-making creation the necessary time to reach full fruition.
This explains the part that Grandma called marinating the cherries. She would say, “Make them and forget about them for several weeks.” As Grandma was marinating her cherry cordials, nature was using invertase to create a delight, which became the reason for Grandma’s candy-making legacy that still lives on today.
A Labor of Love
Even though this might be considered a labor-intensive recipe by some, Grandma never hesitated to make chocolate-covered cherries for us all---year after year. Her work was definitely appreciated by anyone who tasted her candy and she gave us a sweet, Christmas memory we will never forget. I miss her and would love to receive again the Christmas gift of her cherry cordials---that would be a priceless gift, no amount of money could buy.
Prep Time: 4 days
Total Time: 2 weeks
- Maraschino cherries with stems
- Dipping Chocolate melted over a double-boiler
- Ingredients for Basic Candy Fondant
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup water
- Instructions for Basic Candy Fondant
- Wipe a marble slab or large heavy cookie sheet with a damp cloth. Have ready a heavy metal spatula. Put sugar, cream of tartar, and one cup water in a 3-quart heavy pot, stirring to blend thoroughly. Place over medium heat and let it come to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cover the pot and let boil for 2-3 minutes. Uncover, dip a pastry brush in cold water, and wash down sides of the pot. Boil without stirring until the syrup reaches soft-ball stage (238 degrees F). Remove from heat and without scraping the pot, pour out the syrup onto the slab or cookie sheet. Let it cool for about 10 minutes, until it is lukewarm. Start to work it with the spatula, spreading it out and turning it over and over on itself---a procedure called spading. As it starts to thicken and whiten, it is easier to knead with your hands. Continue to knead until it is white, creamy, and too stiff to knead any more. If it crumbles too much, sprinkle on a little water and continue to knead; fondant cannot be over kneaded. Cover with a damp cloth and let it stand for 30 minutes. Knead again for a minute, then wrap in a damp cheesecloth and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let it mellow for 3-4 days before using.
- Putting it all together--
- Place cherries on a paper towel to dry.
- Wrap with mellowed candy fondant around individual cherry.
- Freeze fondant wrapped cherry in freezer overnight.
- Melt dipping chocolate to proper consistency.
- Dip fondant cherry in chocolate.
- Allow the chocolate to harden; then store lightly covered in a cool place for at least two weeks to allow for proper marinating.
- Now Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor---Delicious!
A candy thermometer is handy so you don't have to guess when the candy is ready.
A substitute in case you really don't have time to make your own . . . But there really is no comparable substitute for home-made.