Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chocolate Covered Cherries

A few weeks back, I held a contest on Facebook for flavor ideas. The winner was chosen at random, but there were so many good ideas I decided to keep a list and make them all. One of the suggestions was chocolate with cherries.

When I think of chocolate with cherries, it always reminds me of my Great Grandma, whose favorite candy in the world was chocolate covered cherries. We always got them for her for birthdays and holidays. I was pretty young at the time, but I remember her fondness for the little treats very well.

So I decided to tweak the idea a little and make a chocolate covered cherry cookie. This cookie does not contain actual cherry cordials, it is only inspired by the candy.

I have a couple of candy making books at home. It's something I have been interested in, but never really pursued. However, the books do come in handy when you need to learn how to temper chocolate or in this case, how a real chocolate covered cherry is made.

How these little treats are made is very important to deciding what kind of flavors need to go into the dough to replicate the taste. There are two common ways to make chocolate covered cherries. They both involve maraschino cherries. In the first you wrap the cherry in a layer of fondant before dipping and the second you wrap the cherry in a layer of marzipan before dipping. Both fondant and marzipan are mostly comprised of sugar, so the juice from the cherry actually dissolves the sugar inside of the chocolate shell, which is how you get the runny inside that you find when biting into them.

Since I have a long time love affair with marzipan and fondant wouldn't be very good in a cookie - the choice was easy. I began by getting a log of baking marzipan from the grocery store. I used about half a log for this recipe. I cut it up into small bits about the size of a chocolate chip. Then I drained a jar of maraschino cherries and chopped them in the food processor. While I was preparing everything else, I let the chopped cherries sit in a sieve to drain as much extra juice as possible - because as we've learned before too much liquid in a cookie is not a good thing.

Although chocolate covered cherries are typically made with milk chocolate, I decided to use semi-sweet chocolate in my recipe. I made a basic chocolate cookie, substituting almond extract for vanilla to bring out the marzipan flavor even more. At the end I added in the marzipan bits and cherries and popped them in the oven.

These cookies had a weird texture on the outside when they came out of the oven. It was almost a sticky feeling. The inside texture was wonderful though and the taste - to die for! The taste testers didn't seem to mind the outside and they all thought it was just like eating a chocolate covered cherry.

I think I will tweak the recipe a bit, playing with the ratio of white to brown sugar to try to get a crispier outer shell and also add even more cherries and marzipan, because it was so yummy.

These are definitely going to be a new favorite recipe! It's too bad my Grandma is not around to try some. I'm sure she would approve.