Valentine’s Day always reminds me of chocolate-covered cherries, as my father always gifted a box to my sister and me every Feb. 14. I reminisce every time I see a box in the store, but my grown-up palate doesn’t have an appreciation for the intense richness of the sweet, creamy filling anymore. I found a way to enjoy a chocolate-cherry confection, minus an oozy sweet filling.
When dealing with cherries, pitting is, well, the pits. To make this task easier, I use a multipitter as opposed to a single pitter. Besides the advantage of pitting four cherries at a time, my multipitter contains the cherry juice splatters. Besides cherries, you can also pit olives with this contraption. My cherry pitter is a workhorse, as I dehydrated cherries and canned cherries in a light syrup, Dutch cherry sauce, and cherry pie filling.
These chocolate-covered cherries are something special, and they would make a great gift. Without the chocolate, the cherries are soft, slightly chewy and sweet, and are a delicious addition to trail mix, breads and granola bars.
Besides being versatile and tasty, cherries have many health benefits.
According to Northwest Cherry Growers, besides lowering inflammation and hypertension, “cherries contain four components — fiber, vitamin C, anthocyanins and cartenoids – that have been linked to cancer prevention. The anthocyanins work double-duty to also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
And everyone knows chocolate is a must-have health food, right?
These little confections are easy to make.
First, pit the cherries and cut in half. The pitting part is a great chore for kids. Spread cherries on a dehydrating tray, and dehydrate at 135 degrees until soft, but not moist. These should be pliable. Dehydrating time will depend on the size of your cherries. Mine took about eight hours.
Next, melt semisweet chocolate chips on defrost in your microwave and stir every 30 seconds until smooth. Chocolate can be very temperamental, so pay close attention to this step.
Make a cluster of the dehydrated cherries on parchment paper and spoon chocolate over the top. You can also toss the dehydrated cherries in the bowl of chocolate, and after the chocolate hardens, just break apart.
Out of all the fruit I’ve dehydrated, cherries are now my favorite. Chocolate-covered or not, cherries come out on top.
For more recipes, tips and details, visit Laura Woolfrey Macklem’s Preserved Home blog at www.preservedhome.com.
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