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Cherry Cordials from Grandma

Updated on May 7, 2015

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.

Cook Time

Prep Time: 4 days

Total Time: 2 weeks

Serves: 24-36

Ingredients

  • 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

  1. Instructions for Basic Candy Fondant
  2. 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.
  3. Putting it all together--
  4. Place cherries on a paper towel to dry.
  5. Wrap with mellowed candy fondant around individual cherry.
  6. Freeze fondant wrapped cherry in freezer overnight.
  7. Melt dipping chocolate to proper consistency.
  8. Dip fondant cherry in chocolate.
  9. Allow the chocolate to harden; then store lightly covered in a cool place for at least two weeks to allow for proper marinating.
  10. Now Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor---Delicious!

Candy

Cast your vote for Chocolate Covered Cherries
Cook-Rite Glass Candy and Deep Fry Thermometer
Cook-Rite Glass Candy and Deep Fry Thermometer

A candy thermometer is handy so you don't have to guess when the candy is ready.

 
Cella's Milk Chocolate Covered Cherries, 72-Count Box
Cella's Milk Chocolate Covered Cherries, 72-Count Box

A substitute in case you really don't have time to make your own . . . But there really is no comparable substitute for home-made.

 

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    • DLeighAlexander profile image
      Author

      DLeighAlexander 2 years ago

      Thanks for visiting! Yes they are a lot of work. Takes both time and planning to get them made, but they are worth the work. Homemade is always better than store bought whenever possible.

    • lisln profile image

      LorLinda 2 years ago from Denver Colorado

      OMG this is one of my favorite treats that I always have to pick up a box or two and have around the Holidays I didn't realize that there were so much work put into it. Wow!

    • DLeighAlexander profile image
      Author

      DLeighAlexander 3 years ago

      @esmonaco: You're welcome. I know you will enjoy them too!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      WoW!!! For sure Chocolate covered cherries are my favorite, We've never made them from scratch Thanks for the recipe.

    • JimHofman profile image

      JimHofman 3 years ago

      These sound delicious! Chocolate and cherries...yum.

    • profile image

      ReshimiTheKitty 3 years ago

      I love chocolate covered cherries!

    • Craftymarie profile image

      Marie 3 years ago

      Oh yummy, this looks really great. I love cherries but never tasted them covered in chocolate. I should think that is a match made in heaven.

    • DLeighAlexander profile image
      Author

      DLeighAlexander 3 years ago

      @DawnRae64: Yes, my life is forever better because of my Grandma :) Thanks for your comment.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      Cella's are my favorite . Always a must for Christmas.

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      Aren't Gramma's wonderful?! This looks wonderful. I may have to stick with buying Cella cherries...but am glad to know this recipe and wonderful explanation is here!

    • DLeighAlexander profile image
      Author

      DLeighAlexander 3 years ago

      @sousababy: Once you get the fondant made and mellowed, it is pretty easy. But that fondant is the hard part. I believe they are well worth the work though. Thanks for visiting.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 3 years ago

      Oh, these remind me of Lowney's Cherry Blossom. I'll bet these are great and the recipe looks easier than I expected.

    • DLeighAlexander profile image
      Author

      DLeighAlexander 3 years ago

      @Titia: Yes Grandma was the best! Thanks for visiting & Merry Christmas to you.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      mmm, mmmm, good! This would be a fun tradition to establish, making chocolate covered cherries at home.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 3 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Oh just now that I need to lose a few pounds, you come with this delicious recipe. Not fair at all LOL Looks like your granny was a special person.

    • DLeighAlexander profile image
      Author

      DLeighAlexander 3 years ago

      @lesliesinclair: Yes, it provided a family tradition we will never forget!

    • DLeighAlexander profile image
      Author

      DLeighAlexander 3 years ago

      @Pam Irie: Thank you for visiting & your sweet comment! There really is nothing like cherry cordials that are home-made. Hope you are able to try some in the future.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 3 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Oh wow! My mouth literally is watering after reading the description of your Grandma's cherry cordials! I have never had the privilege of tasing these homemade. What a wonderful thing your Grandma did for your family. What a treat! YAY You for continuing her legacy. :)