Cherry Chocolate Mice

This is a fun idea that my mom came up with.  We made them for the plates of goodies that we took to our neighbors and friends this holiday season.

Dip maraschino cherries (with stems) in tempered milk chocolate.  While the chocolate is still soft, press a Hershey’s kiss into the bottom of the chocolate.  We used the cherry cordial filled kisses which were nice.  Lay the cherry and kiss on end and place peanut halves into the chocolate as ears.  This is an easy treat that really gets noticed.  While it was the least technical (and the least tasty as we used Hershey’s kisses and milk chocolate instead of the Belgium good stuff we used for the rest), it was the item that received the most comments.

Cherry Cordials (Liquid Centers)

We’ve been working on our Christmas goodies to take to people.  One of the recipes we’ve tried new this year is for Cherry Cordials.  They turned out great!  The cool thing about this recipe is the liquid center.  It starts as a fondant and then the cherry melts them overnight, leaving a gooey liquid center. 

The instructions on the second dip are very reusable for all chocolate dipping.  It really helped us get it right, I think that previously we always had the chocolate too hot, which causes it to get the waxy film when it cools and to melt whatever we were trying to dip into the chocolate, ruining the rest of the dipping chocolate. 

Also, instead of semisweet chips, we’ve been using a mix of 3 parts bittersweet, 1 part 72% dark from Trader Joe’s.  They sell "Pound Plus" bars there that are awesome for making chocolates, I definitely recommend them.

Makes about 60 cherries
•3 cups sugar
•1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
•1/4 cup light corn syrup
•60 maraschino cherries with stems (do not use fresh cherries)
•24 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped, or 24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
•Butter or margarine for greasing the pan and the cookie sheet

1.Butter a 9 x 13" baking pan and set aside.
2.Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a heavy medium saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves & syrup boils.
3.Cook the syrup, without stirring, until it reaches 240 F (soft ball).
4.Immediately pour into the prepped 9 X 13 pan. Let cool, undisturbed, until bottom of pan feels lukewarm to the touch.
5.Using a heavy wooden spoon, stir until it forms a ball. Some may stick to the pan. May also seize into a very hard ball that is impossible to stir. Seal in a 1-gallon Ziploc bag, remove as much air from the bag as possible. Let rest 1 minute.
6.With fondant still in the bag, roll with the heel of your hand, pressing down toward the counter. Continue this light kneading until it looks smooth and creamy and feels like firm cookie dough, about 10 minutes. Set aside, wrapped in bag and prepare cherries. Can be made up to a week ahead and kept well wrapped in the fridge.

1.Drain cherries, reserving the liquid. Place on paper towels to absorb excess liquid.
2.Butter a large sheet, line with wax paper and set aside.
3.Place fondant in top of a double boiler over simmering water. If you don’t have a double boiler, use the medium bowl over a pot of simmering water method. Stir fondant until it melts. Insert candy thermometer in the melted fondant and continue stirring gently, until the fondant reaches 150 F. Turn off heat.
4.Stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of the reserved cherry liquid to give the fondant a pink color and a mild cherry flavor. Should temp. fall below 150 F, turn the heat on low and bring the water back to a simmer just until the fondant rises back to 150 F.
5.To dip, hold a cherry by the stem and quickly dip it into the melted fondant covering the cherry. Avoid getting any on the stem. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining cherries until all are dipped. Stir the fondant occasionally. If fondant becomes too thick as you dip, add more cherry liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until thinner consistency is reached. Set the dipped cherries aside while preparing the chocolate for dipping.

1.Melt 12 ounces of the semisweet chocolate in the top of a clean double boiler set over hot water.
2.When the chocolate has melted, remove the top part of the double boiler from the water. Add the remaining 12 ounces semisweet and stir until all chocolate is melted and smooth.
3.Insert a candy thermometer into melted chocolate. temperature should be 88 to 90 F. If too cold, place back over hot water until the temperature reaches 88 to 90 F. If too hot, let cool until temperature is reached.
4.Hold a covered cherry by the stem and dip it into the chocolate to cover the pink coating. Repeat until all are dipped. Stir chocolate occasionally.
5.Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Place in the refrigerator overnight, and chocolate will harden and the centers will liquefy.
6.Store in single layer in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.