This is the week chocolate fans look forward to.....Valentine's! Since this coming Friday, February 14th, is "Valentine's Day", many of us will be finding ways to show those we love how dear they are to us. Many will do it with candy, mostly chocolate, so is it any wonder why chocolate fans enjoy this time of year?
This week, I'll be giving you recipes leading up to Valentine's Day this Friday. I did this last year and the response was very favorable, so I decided to do it again this year. Since chocolate is seemingly America's favorite flavor, there are many great chocolate recipes, therefore, I'm having to pick and choose what to share, which won't be easy to do!
For this column, let's make something that most people would never think of making at home and that's "Chocolate Covered Cherries". You may already be thinking that this is a long, drawn-out recipe, but it really isn't. What's more is that you'll be making two types of candy at once. Here's how: you begin by making the creamy centers of the candy by using confectioner's sugar, butter, salt, and sweetened condensed milk, along with some vanilla extract. You would then use a large jar of maraschino cherries and wrap this creamy mixture around the cherries. Then you melt semi-sweet chocolate with some vegetable shortening and this serves as the chocolate dip for the candy. The covered cherries are dipped and placed on waxed paper. That takes care of the cherries!
Now, let's make a "Nut Log". You will not use all of the creamy center mixture for the cherries, so you add chopped nuts to what's left. This is shaped into a log and any remaining melted chocolate dip can go over the log. Now, you have two homemade candies! When both candies have cooled and become firm, they're ready to share with those who are special to you!
You may be wondering why vegetable shortening is used in the chocolate dip. The original recipe called for using 1/4 cup of paraffin wax. In recent years, according to the Food and Drug Administration, paraffin isn't really meant to be used as a edible food item. Many old candy recipes call for using paraffin as an aid in helping melted chocolate become firm when used as a candy dip. To guarantee food safety, vegetable shortening is advised and works very well.
One recipe I shared at Valentine's two years ago was "Valentine's Day Chocolate Mousse". This is a fabulous dessert, which is very rich but worth the calories! If you missed it then, here's the link to get it again:
This is also a fun project to do with children, so if they need a sweet treat to share with someone special to them, invite them into the kitchen with you to make these sweet chocolate treats!
CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRIES
- 1 lb. confectioner's sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
- a pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
- 1/3 cup chopped nuts
- 1 large jar maraschino cherries
- 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
Cream the butter, sugar, milk, salt and vanilla extract until mixture is smooth and uniform. Drain the cherries by placing them on paper towels. Using about a teaspoon of the creamy mixture, wrap this around a drained cherry. Place on waxed paper and repeat until all the cherries are covered. Add the chopped nuts to the remaining creamy mixture and mix well. Shape this into a log. In a double boiler or in a saucepan over very low heat, melt the chocolate with the shortening until smooth. Dip the cherries into the chocolate mixture with a fork, letting any extra chocolate drain off. Return to the waxed paper. Place the Nut Roll on waxed paper and drizzle the remaining chocolate mixture over. Let stand until firm. When firm, sliced the Nut Roll into desired size slices. Yield: approximately 2 to 2-1/2 dozen covered cherries and 1 Nut Roll.