Ninety percent of the gifts I give are food gifts, so it should come as no surprise that this Valentine’s Day, my hubby will be getting some homemade treats. He is a huge cherry cordials fanatic, his favorite being Cellas, and I decided to try my hand at making them for him myself.
I made these exactly two weeks to the day before Valentine’s Day, but would have made them a month in advance if I had planned it better. The centers should liquefy after two weeks of storage, but I would have liked to give them extra time just to make sure. The picture below was taken after a week of storage and I’m not sure they will liquefy in time but I have to say they are just as good, if not better, than store-bought in their current state.
2 (10-oz) jars maraschino cherries (you’ll need 40-50)
¼ cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons reserved cherry juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 (12-oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cake paraffin wax, shredded OR 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
Reserve two tablespoons of juice from one of the jars of cherries, then empty them into a colander set over the sink and allow them to drain while you prepare the fondant.
Cream the butter with 1 cup of the powdered sugar, then add 1 tablespoon of the reserved cherry juice, the extracts and beat until mixed. Add the remaining sugar and, using your hands, knead it into the butter mixture until a smooth, soft dough forms. If your dough is too firm, add additional cherry juice (or milk if you don’t want the mixture too pink) and knead it in until it’s a soft dough. Place inside a Ziploc bag to keep it from drying out.
Line a baking sheet with foil. Take small pieces of fondant, about 1 or 2 teaspoons, and press them flat on your palm. Wrap around the cherries, pinching off the excess before rolling them smooth and placing on the wax paper. Repeat until all the fondant is used up. Set fondant-covered cherries in the freezer until well chilled, at least one hour and up to overnight.
Melt the chocolate chips and shredded paraffin or shortening until smooth. Dip each cherry in the chocolate using a fork, drawing fork across rim of pan to remove excess coating. Drop coated cherry upside down onto waxed paper, swirling a thread of coating from fork across top for a decorative touch (after a while, I used my finger instead to swirl the chocolate on top). Once all are coated, place in the refrigerator until the chocolate is set; check bottoms and reseal with additional melted coating, if necessary. You want every part of the center covered or it will start to leak out as it liquefies. Store in a cool place (do not refrigerate) for 2 weeks to form cordial.
Notes: Using the cherry juice makes a pink center. If you want it to be white, just use milk instead of the juice. If you like, you can soak the cherries in alcohol, such as rum, brandy, Kirsch, port, cognac, amaretto etc., to give them an extra flavor kick! Just drain the cherries and soak them overnight , then drain them again before proceeding with the recipe. I recommend leaving your tray of fondant-covered cherries in the freezer and taking them out one by one to dip them. The longer they are at room temperature, the softer the fondant will become and the more it will stick to your fork.