Before it’s too late, while we still have time to plan, now’s the time to factor in making chocolate-covered cherries for Christmas giving and gobbling up ourselves.
As usual, beginning with the Nov. 29, 2006, Forum column, we’ll rely on this incredibly popular recipe shared by our beloved helper, the late Bonnie Teeters of Lynnwood.
She told us at that time, “Christmas is coming too fast for me, as usual. I printed out one of my favorite candy recipes today, as the candies need to set for one to two weeks, so I (and we Forum cooks, too) will need to get right on this shortly.
“I wanted to share this with you all, as these are so good! I have been making this recipe for Christmas since 1995, and the candies are delicious and go real fast, so I always double the recipe. I buy a big jar of the cherries at Costco, and use 36 cherries for each batch.”
Bonnie also added, “I always use butter, instead of margarine, when I make these.”
There’s no big hurry with our second candy how-to today. Happily, it can be made whenever the whim strikes you. And, of course, when you can spare the time.
It, too, is a majorly popular recipe, and has been a hit since it was originally passed along to us by Ed and Loretta Thomas in an Aug. 25, 2000, Forum column.
They told us at the time, “We’ve tried this, and it is simple to make and really good stuff!” adding “Our microwave oven is rated at 1.5 kilowatts. After trial and error, we set ours at 70 percent, and the brittle turns out just fine.”
Here we go, candymakers:
Bonnie’s chocolate-covered cherries
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2jars (8 ounces each) maraschino cherries with stems, drained well on paper towels
2cups (12-ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate chips
In mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar, butter or margarine, milk and almond extract, mixing well. Knead into a large ball. Wrap ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 1 hour to make it easier to work with. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls, then flatten each ball into a 2-inch circle. (It’s easier if you flatten each ball in the palm of your hand.) Wrap each circle around a cherry and lightly roll in your hands. Place wrapped cherries with stems up on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Cover loosely with waxed paper and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. (Overnight is preferred.)
When ready, melt the chocolate and shortening together in a double-boiler or microwave-safe bowl until smooth. Holding onto the stem, dip each cherry into the melted chocolate, let excess drip off, and set on baking sheet lined with waxed paper to harden. When chocolate has hardened, store cherries in a covered container in the refrigerator. Refrigerate at least 1 week, preferably 2 weeks, before serving.
Makes about 3 dozen candies.
Prize-winning peanut brittle
2cups peanut butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
2cups raw (not roasted) peanuts
1teaspoon baking soda
Place peanut butter in the top of a double boiler over hot water to warm. Combine sugar, syrup and the 1/4 cup water in a heavy saucepan; cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer registers 275 degrees.
Remove thermometer and add butter, stirring until melted. Reduce heat to medium and add peanuts. Return thermometer to pan and cook, while stirring, until candy begins to turn brown, 300 degrees. Mix baking soda and remaining water together. Remove pan from heat and stir in soda mixture and vanilla. Lightly (very gently) fold in warmed peanut butter, taking care not to overmix. Pour candy onto marble slab or well-greased countertop. Spread quickly with spatula as thinly as possible. Cool, then break into pieces and store in tightly covered container.
Makes about 2 pounds.