Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Drunken cherries

First published Canberra Times 15 December 2010
It’s time to fess up – this recipe was an experiment, but what a lot of fun it was. It all started when I read a book about a chef who spent a year in France and he talked generally about creating fermented cherries. So I did a bit of research on fermentation of fruit and I came up with my own recipe, thinking it might work for a unique Christmas treat.

The fresh cherries ferment while wrapped inside a sugary layer of fondant and are then enrobed in a double layer of dark chocolate. This seals the cherry inside the chocolate, kicking off the fermentation process. They make a great gift, or served with coffee after dinner.

I used fresh and firm cherries, which were a little on the under-ripe side with their stalks intact. I used white icing fondant bought from the supermarket to wrap the cherries.

Photo by Steve Shanahan
20 firm, washed and dried cherries
125g dark chocolate, 75 – 80 % cocoa solids
200g ready-made white icing fondant (you can seal the remaining fondant in cling wrap and store in the cupboard)

Roll the fondant out thinly on a surface dusted with icing sugar, loosening as you go so it doesn’t stick. Cut out approximately 20 x 5 cm circles large enough to cover each of the cherries. Wrap a thin layer of the fondant around the cherries, making sure you cover the cherry up to the stalk. Pinch off any excess fondant at the stalk and place on a tray lined with baking paper.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, being careful not to get any water into the chocolate. When the chocolate has melted, hold the cherry by the stalk and dip it into the chocolate. Spoon the chocolate over the cherry to ensure complete coverage. When coated place the cherry back onto the tray to set. Continue until all the cherries are coated with chocolate. Leave the cherries to set for 30 minutes.
Reheat the remaining chocolate and dip the bases of the cherries for the second time.

Return the cherries to the paper lined tray and when the chocolate has set, transfer to a paper lined container and place in the fridge to ferment for about 2 weeks. Some of the fondant may ooze out of the cherry, this only means the cherries are doing their thing. Be aware the cherries will still have their seeds.