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I grew up in a Russell Stover household. Every holiday and special occasion was marked with a box of chocolates that came from the local pharmacy. My dad's birthday and Father's day were my favorites, when we'd present him with his candy of choice: a long sleek box of chocolate covered cherry cordials.
As soon as he took the lid off the box and lifted the white wafer paper, the heady aroma of chocolate mixed with cherry was already driving me nuts. Each juicy maraschino cherry exploded with flavor as it collapsed under the crisp chocolate shell. He'd keep the box in his top dresser drawer but I snuck as many as I could, mussing up the paper liners in the hope that he wouldn't notice. Let's just say that my dad's favorite candy became mine, and Russell Stover's style of chocolate covered cherry is the only kind I like. That means it's gotta have a clear liquid filling. Not the slimy opaque pink or white fillings that resemble the sugary cream in a Cadbury egg. The burst of juicy fruit is what it's all about, and to me, a creamy filling just dulls it.
These chocolate covered cherry cordials are exactly what I was looking for: a luscious, syrupy cherry encased in dark chocolate. I will admit that it's a somewhat challenging process to make the fondant, but it's absolutely manageable. Simpler recipes call for a paste made up of confectioners' sugar, butter, and cherry juice that's molded around the cherry before it's dipped in chocolate. At best, that ends up thick, milky, and way too sweet. To achieve a juicy clear cherry center, it has to start with a fondant made from granulated sugar.
To put the "adult" in these cordials, the cherries are first soaked overnight in a few tablespoons of liquor. I used Jack Daniels because it's what I had on hand, but any liquor will work—try brandy or even Grand Marnier. Long stemmed cherries add the extra "wow" factor, and also make dipping easier. After the cherries are coated in fondant and then covered in chocolate, the wait is only 2 days for the center to become a slightly viscous cherry-flavored syrup. Dad would definitely approve.
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About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore and is currently at work constructing her new blog, "ShopHouseCook".