When I was a kid, my grandma lived right next door to us. Some memories of visiting my grandma include playing games of rummy at her kitchen table, watching The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, her two snorty little Pekingese dogs, classical music forever playing on the stereo, and leafing through her old copy of the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. When Christmas would come around, it meant sitting on her love seat next to the artificial Christmas tree while gazing at the Swiss Colony catalog that came in the mail every December.
Do you remember that catalog? It seems to magically appear in mailboxes every Christmas season, without fail. That catalog was seriously the best thing ever as an 8 year old. It was the closest thing to taking a tour of Willy Wonka’s factory that I’d ever have. The giant boxes filled with rows upon rows of chocolate truffles! All those cute petit fours! Super fancy cakes! Those almond-crusted cheese logs (for those weirdos without a sweet tooth)! There’s nothing like that catalog, man.
I know the Swiss Colony catalog also featured cherry cordials, which were one of my grandma’s favorites. She even loved the junky kind you can buy from Walgreens. I recall buying her a box for Christmas one year when I was a kid, and she probably set it out on the bar with her brandy-spiked egg nog, and the sickly-sweet fruitcake in a tin that none of us ever wanted to try.
I thought I would make some cordial cherries myself, in memory of my grandma. They’re great as Christmas candy, all festive with bright red maraschino cherries, and super sweet as any self-respecting Christmas treat should be. They come together in no time, but the downside is that you have to plan ahead to enjoy them at their best, since this candy needs to be prepared 1 to 2 weeks prior to eating, for the filling to hit the proper consistency. Make some now! They’ll be absolutely perfect when Christmas Day rolls around.
dark chocolate cordial cherries
makes 4 dozen; modified from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
48 maraschino cherries with stems, from about 3 – 10 oz jars
3 Tbs (1.5 oz / 42 g) unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbs (68 g) light corn syrup
2 c (250 g) powdered sugar
1 lb dark chocolate candy melts
Drain the cherries in a colander, then lay them on a paper towel-lined sheet pan. Blot them well to get rid of excess moisture, and set aside. Line a separate sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper.
In a medium sized bowl, stir together the soft butter and corn syrup with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and stir gently and slowly until the mixture starts to clump slightly. Using your (clean!) hands, knead the mixture until a smooth dough forms.
Working with one cherry at a time, grab a small 1/2 inch ball of the sugar dough and flatten it to a rough disk. Place the cherry in the center and form the dough around the cherry, all the way to the stem, making sure that no cherry is visible. Set the covered cherry on the clean parchment papered pan, and repeat with all the cherries or until the sugar dough has been used up. Set the pan of covered cherries in the fridge to let the outsides firm up slightly.
While the cherries are in the fridge, pour the candy melts into a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until they are melted and slightly warm. Pour into a short, squat glass.
Grab the cherries from the fridge and working one at a time, hold the cherry by the stem and submerge it fully into the melted chocolate. Pull straight up, letting the excess run back into the glass, and drag the bottom of the cherry across the edge of the glass to get rid of any chocolate that might puddle. Set the cherry back on the clean parchment, and repeat until all the cherries are dipped.
Set the cherries in the fridge for 5 minutes until the coating has fully hardened, then gently pull them off the parchment and store them at room temperature in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks before eating.
When the wait is over, you’ll be rewarded by a snappy chocolate-y shell covering a bright red cherry and lots of sweet filling. It’s Christmas at its finest! I’m sure to be helping myself to a few, possibly with some spiked egg nog. Totally grandma-approved.