1poundfresh, sweet cherries with stems intact (but it's okay if some have no stems)
16ouncessemi-sweet or dark chocolate
1tablespoonvegetable shortening(Note: not needed if you are tempering your chocolate. See below.)
¼cupsparkling decorating sugar
Prepare the cherries:
Wash the fresh cherries gently under running water. Spread them out to dry on a kitchen towel-lined cooling rack. The cherries need to be completely dry before dipping.
Spread a piece of wax paper or parchment paper over a work surface or in a large baking sheet. This is where the cherries will go after they're dipped.
Melt the chocolate:
Bring water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. (You can also simmer the water in a saucepan with a heatproof bowl set over the top.) Place the chocolate and the vegetable shortening in the top of the double boiler. Stir everything until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Dip the cherries:
Holding them by the stem, dip the cherries one at a time in the melted chocolate. Use a spoon with the other hand to spoon chocolate up and over the cherry so that the whole thing is coated. Let excess chocolate drip away, then place the cherries on the wax or parchment paper so they're not touching.
After every ten cherries or so, while the chocolate is still wet, take a pinch of the sparkling sugar and sprinkle it over the tops of the cherries. Repeat these steps until all of the cherries have been dipped and topped with sugar.
For your cherries without stems, set the cherry on the tines of a fork over the melted chocolate and use the spoon to pull the chocolate over it. Let the excess drip off and set it on the paper.
Let the cherries set:
Allow the cherries to rest in a cool spot (not the fridge) until the chocolate has set: about 2 hours, or a little less if you have a fan pointed at them.
Serve the chocolaty cherries immediately. They can be stored for up to three days: place them in a single layer in a sealed container lined with a paper towel. Store them at room temperature away from heat sources or sunlight.
Makes about 50 cherries.
OPTION: TEMPER THE CHOCOLATE
To do this you will need a digital thermometer. You will not need the vegetable shortening.
Divide the chocolate pieces into two piles.
Bring water just to a simmer in the bottom pan of the double boiler. Place half of the chocolate into the top pan of the double boiler (or into a bowl set over the lower pan.) Have a digital thermometer ready and stir the chocolate constantly as it melts.
Place your thermometer in the melted chocolate and continue to stir it. When the temperature reaches 115 degrees, remove the pan or bowl from the heat.
Now you want to bring the temperature down to about 95 degrees: stir the chocolate checking the temperature periodically: it took my melted chocolate about 7 minutes to cool to 95 degrees.
Once you get it down to 95 degrees, place the pan or bowl with the chocolate back over the pan of simmering water. Add in the rest of the chocolate. Stir it constantly to melt everything, and you'll have a pan of very smooth, thick chocolate.
You can use semisweet or dark chocolate for this recipe. Fresh cherries are pretty sweet, so milk or white chocolate might be a little too sweet a coating - but hey, if you have a really insatiable sweet tooth (or cherries that are a sour variety) give these a try!
Make sure the cherries are totally dry before dipping them. If any water gets into the melted chocolate it will cause the chocolate to seize.
The vegetable shortening in the chocolate is to help the chocolate set more quickly and have a bit of a shine. This can also be achieved by tempering: if you want to try tempering your chocolate, the instructions are in the recipe as an option.