When I was younger, my Dad would bring home a box of chocolate covered cherries from his work. He would share a couple with my sister and I, and I always loved the ooey gooey confections. But I got married and moved out, and just never thought to buy them for myself. Several years later, I was at my in-law’s house, and my mother-in-law gave me a chocolate covered cherry to try. Best chocolate covered cherry EVER! She told me her neighbor made them. I ask for the recipe and I’ve not eaten a store-bought one since.
CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRIES MAKE GREAT GIFTS
These chocolate covered cherries have made an appearance as gifts for teachers, co-workers and friends, been put on goodie trays at Christmas, and most recently, served at the annual Valentine’s Day Sweet Treats buffet for teachers at our Elementary school.
Nowadays, with a red dye intolerance in our family, I didn’t think we could indulge in these glorious candies. Enter Aldi. They now have maraschino cherries with no artificial coloring! Hurray!! As a matter of fact, all the necessary ingredients can be snagged at Aldi.
Recently, I scooped up several jars of maraschino cherries to make these sweet confections. These chocolate covered cherries are so much better than the store-bought ones I remember. They are best if made a few days or even a few weeks ahead of time and allowed to sit in the refrigerator. However, no one has ever refused them, no matter when they were made.
YOU CAN MAKE CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRIES AT HOME
A maraschino cherry surrounded by a soft, sweet center, and covered in chocolate.
- 2 10 oz. jars maraschino cherries, drained, juice reserved
- 6 Tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2-3 Tablespoons reserved maraschino cherry juice
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 Tablespoons shortening
Drain cherries well, reserving juice. Combine butter, powdered sugar, almond extract and 2 Tablespoons reserved maraschino cherry juice. Mix well. I start with my mixer and when the mixture looks crumbly, I knead it together with my hands. If too stiff, add additional maraschino cherry juice, 1 teaspoon at a time. You want the dough to be fairly stiff and not very sticky. If it is too sticky, knead in additional powdered sugar.
Pinch off a piece of the dough and wrap it around each cherry. You want to be sure to cover each cherry thoroughly but you don't want the dough to be too thick. Roll each cherry gently into a ball.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight
For the coating: Melt chocolate and shortening together in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring every 30 seconds. When chocolate is almost melted, stop heating it and continue stirring until smooth.
Dip each cold cherry into the chocolate mixture, allowing the excess to drip off. Place on a waxed paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate until set. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container. These will keep several weeks in the refrigerator (if they last that long!)
You may have a little of the dough left after wrapping around the cherries. Save it in the refrigerator in case you need to patch a cherry before dipping. Occasionally, the cherry juice will seep through the dough and leave a hole. Patch the hole before dipping in the chocolate, otherwise the chocolate won't stick.
This is just barely enough chocolate to dip all the cherries in, meaning the last few may look a little rough. (Those are the ones to sample!) However, if you are heavy handed with the chocolate, you may want to melt an additional cup of chocolate chips and and additional Tablespoon of shortening.
If you are interested in a tutorial on dipping the cherries in the chocolate, check out this tutorial from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, one of my favorite bloggers. She even has a video showing you exactly how to dip food in chocolate so you will totally look like a rock star.
These candies are actually very simple to make and you can even enlist the kids to help with rolling the dough around the cherries. I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. Happy Valentine’s Day!