Chocolate and Valentine’s Day are a forever pairing. For me, the choco-heart tradition is dipped in memories of my Aunt Ruth. She had the loudest laugh, the thickest auburn hair, and the worst record of timeliness. But when she got to the party, her laugh came too—along with jokes she’d tell (forgetting the punchline) and armloads of gifts. On Valentine’s Day, that would mean heart-shaped paper boxes stamped in gold, with satin bows, lace trim, and little frilled paper cups full of chocolate-covered cherries. If Ruth were still around, I think she’d like these very-cherry homemade chocolates as much as I loved those frilly boxes. I’m sure you’ll like them too. To make the chocolates, I use pitted stem-on Italian Amarena cherries (which you can find in a cute, 16-ounce jar at Trader Joe’s). I wrap the cherries in fondant made with confectioner’s sugar, sweet butter from pasture-raised cows, best-quality cream, with a little pure vanilla extract, and then dip them in high-quality melted semisweet chocolate.
You’ll want to make these at least a few days before Valentine’s Day. Once the chocolate has set up, you’ll put them in an airtight container in the fridge. After a few days, the fondant around the cherries inside has a chance to soften and liquefy a bit. But if you can’t wait that long—the cherries are just as yummy with are just as yummy with
Happy Valentine’s Day!
For the cherries:
One 16-ounce jar stem-on Amarena cherries in syrup, drained or two 8-ounce jars stem-on maraschino cherries, drained For the fondant: 2-1/3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened 1/2 tsp sea salt 1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the fondant:
2-1/3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp sea salt 1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the chocolate coating:
2 cups high-quality semi-sweet chocolate or dark chocolate or milk chocolate 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1. Drain the cherries. Save the juice to sweeten yogurt or mix into a cocktail. Blot cherries on clean cotton cloth. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add the confectioners’ sugar, softened butter, salt, vanilla extract, and cream. Beat until a smooth dough forms. Remove the fondant and shape into a flattened disk. Spread your clean work surface with a sheet of parchment paper
3. Place the fondant on the paper; cover with another sheet of parchment. Roll the fondant out as thinly as possible. Remove and discard the top sheet of parchment. Using a 1-1/2 inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut the fondant into circles. One by one, wrap each cherry in fondant smoothing to shape each cherry into a nice cherry ball. Place stem up on a parchment lined plate or pan. Place pan of fondant-wrapped cherries in refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.
4. Melt chocolate with butter in microwave in 30-second increments, stopping between each to stir. Melt just until chocolate is smooth and stir-able, but not bubbling. Set aside.
5. Remove chilled fondant cherries from refrigerator. Carefully dip, coat and swirl them in the melted chocolate. Place dipped chocolates back on parchment lined plate. Once all chocolates are made, return cherries to the refrigerator to harden. Once hardened for about an hour, place finished chocolates in an airtight container and refrigerate for several days.