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Chocolate Covered Cherries

The recipe doesn't call for liqueur, but a few years ago, I was
putting the leftover cherries back in the refrigerator for the next
year (the nice thing about maraschino cherries is that they keep
*forever*), I thought of putting them in rum to soak. So, I refilled
the cherry jar with rum, screwed the top back on and let them sit
for the next year. I only made a few to give to several friends
who had expressed an interest. Well, apparently, they were quite
potent... and popular. People who like alcohol, *really* like these.
Since then, I've also soaked them in vodka. This year, for the
first time, I'm trying creme de menthe. The combination of chocolate,
cherry, and mint flavor could be overpowering or reallly yummy.

Anyway, the standard recipe follows.

1 (16-ounce) jar plus 1 (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries with stems
3 T butter, softened
3 T light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 C sifted powdered sugar
1 (12-ounce) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 T shortening

Drain about 50 cherries; pat cherries dry on absorbent paper towels,
and set aside. Reserve remaining cherries for other uses. (Note:
I usually triple the recipe.)

Combine butter, syrup, and salt, stirring well; stir in powdered
sugar and knead in bowl until smooth.

Shape 1/2 teaspoon sugar mixture around each cherry. Place on a
waxed paper-lined baking sheet; chill about 2 hours or until firm.
(NOte: I often put them in the freezer for a while.)

Combine chocolate and shortening in top of a double boiler; bring
water to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook until chocolate melts.
Dip each cherry by the stem into chocolate. Place on a waxed
paper-lined baking sheet; chill until firm. Store in an airtight
container in the refrigerator.

A couple more notes: as you dip more of the cherries, the chocolate
level drops and it can be difficult to dip the entire cherry before
the coating melts. This can create lumpy looking cherries (which
still taste good). As the level drops, try tilting the pan a bit
(be careful not to let the water seep out) and angle the cherries
as you dip each.

This recipe is easy. Tedious, but easy. If you have repetitive
stress problems with your hands, allow extra time for the shaping
of the sugar around the cherries. That can actually be kinda painful
after the 100th or so cherry. :-)


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