Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Neighbor Treat Plates Part One.

   Cookie Wednesday:  Chocolate-Covered Cherry Delights
       Over the weekend I am taking part in a cookie bake-off (wish me luck!) as well as delivering treat plates to my neighbors, which means I am going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  Today's Cookie Wednesday is the first in a series of three.  Today's for Cookie Wednesday I am making:  Chocolate-Covered Cherry Delights.  I am also making Cherry-Chocolate Christmas Mice and Snowman Cake Pops here at Couponing Made Simple
       Please join me tomorrow at Couponing Made Simple for my candy section with my Grandma's Homemade Caramels, my grandpa's favorite Old Fashioned Fudge, Chocolate Dipped Pretzels and Candy Oranges and I am even going to try my first batch of Divintiy.  As well as some cute Chocolate Reindeer Suckers, and Marshmallow Snowmen that sparkle. 
       Then come back on Friday for MORE Cookies!  Sugar Cookies, Snickerdoodles, and of course Candy Cane Chocolate Chip Cookies.  (And, if I have any energy left over, I may do some Pumpkin Whoopie Pies as well.)
       If anyone would like to volunteer to come and clean my kitchen that would be great!  :)
Chocolate-Cover Cherry Delights
I am using Taste and Tell's picture because my husband took mine to work before I got a picture.  It worked out nicely, since I take awful pictures.
I found this recipe on a blog I follow 'Taste and Tell'.  The cookies looked so yummy I have been anxiously awaiting Wednesday morning.  I couldn't take it any longer and had to give them a trial run on Monday.  My husband took the with him on Tuesday to work to my taste testers and they gave them a 9 out of 10.  Below is Debora's recipe from Taste and Tell.  At the end of the recipe will be my hints. 
Chocolate-Covered Cherry Delights
adapted from Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
makes 2 dozen cookies
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 10-oz. jar maraschino cherries*
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

       Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the butter and mix in the sugar.  When the mixture has cooled off a bit, add the egg and mix.  Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla and cocoa, stirring after each addition.  Add the flour and mix well.  The dough will be stiff and a bit crumbly.
       Drain the cherries and reserve the juice.
       Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a greased cookie sheet, 12 per sheet.  Press down in the center of each ball to make an indentation.  Place one cherry in each indentation.
       In a double boiler, combine the chocolate chips and the sweetened condensed milk.  Heat on low, stirring, until the chocolate chips have melted.  Start adding in some of the reserved cherry juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the sauce is thick and will glob off a spoon.  If it won't glob off, keep adding juice until it is the right consistency.  Spoon a small bit of the sauce over the center of each cookie - just enough to cover the cherry.  It shouldn't drip down the sides.**
       Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
*you probably won't use the whole jar of cherries
**I had quite a bit of the chocolate frosting left over.  Good thing it makes a great snack on top of graham crackers!!
My Hints, These cookies are a dark chocolate lovers dream come true.  I love chocolate, but I'm more or a milk chocolate girl so these had just way too much chocolate for me. If I where making them for myself I would reduce the cocoa by 1/2 and increase the flour accordingly.  So if you are like me and want a little more milk chocolate taste give that at try.  .  Use good quality melting chocolate and cherries.  Also, for storage, keep them on a paper plate in a sealed bag with a slice of bread (don't let the bread touch any of the cookies directly, just be in the bag with them).  They are made with butter they will get hard quickly.  The bread will help keep them moist.  This works with any cookie that you want to keep soft and does not use shortening for the fat.  Shortening cookies should stay soft.

Cherry-Chocolate Christmas Mouse

1 bag of Hershey kisses, unwrapped
slivered or sliced almonds (both make adorable little ears, so use whichever you have on hand)
1 jar of maraschino cherries with the stems
1 bag of chocolate chips, melted or a 1/4-1/2 lb. chocolate bark (from the butcher)
2 tsp. shortening
Drain a jar of maraschino cherries and place the cherries on a paper towel to dry.  Open your kisses.
 In a double boiler melt your chocolate and stir in shortening until smooth.  If you are using Almond Chocolate you won't need to add the shortening.  Holding the cherries by the stem, dip them in the melted chocolate, place it on wax paper, then join the cherry to the bottom of a kiss.
While the chocolate is still soft place sliced almonds between the cherry and the kiss to make the ears. 
With white frosting (or cupcake pearls) - dab eyes on each chocolate kiss and add a nose. Place your mice in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets. 
I embellished with tiny little bows just for fun, but you don't have to.  Also, they are cute with or without eyes and a nose.  It's really up to you.
That's it!  Now you have your own little mouse army.  (It feels like a mini version of The Nutcracker is happening in my kitchen.)  Let the chocolate harden in the fridge and you will have the sweetest little
Cherry-Chocolate Christmas Mice.

Snowmen Cake Pops
These are my first attempts at Cake Pops.  There is a learning curve for me for sure, but I think they turned out simply adorable!)
*  Frozen Cakeballs (for a tutorial on how to make Cake Pops go the Bakerella's link HERE)
*  2 pkgs white candy coating 
*  Edible food decorating markers (I piped black royal icing instead, but I think I will splurge on the markers next time.)
*  Wilton’s Crunch Rainbow Topping
*  Lollipop sticks and lollipop-sized cellophane bags and ribbon
       Prepare cakeballs and melt a little candy coating according to the directions on the package.  Dip the lollipop stick into a little melted candy coating and add two rolled cakeballs.   Re-shape the body of your snowman so that they are look like snowmen. You will want to make sure the bottom cakeball is flattened a little so that the finished  snowman stands up well. Refreeze them until they firm up again. If you try to dip pops that aren’t firm, you end up with crumbs in your melted chocolate bowl (which I did), which then transfers to the balls and they won’t look very pretty (it really didn't look pretty, in the future I will only take a few cake pops out of the freezer at a time).
       Once they’re pretty solid, they’re ready to dip. It works best to use a small, but taller bowl for the melted candy coating with these double cake pops. Once dipped, gently shake off excess and place standing up on waxed paper to dry.
       After they have set and are hard, use the black food writer to add the details. Take an orange brownie crunch topping, dip the flat part in a little bit of melted chocolate and adhere to snowman.  Put your finished snowmen into bags and tie with a little ribbon. 

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