Cherry Blossom was one of my favourite sweets growing up. For those of you who’ve never had one, it’s a chocolate confection called a cherry cordial. If you’ve ever bitten into a chocolate covered cherry that dripped sweet syrup all down your chin, you’ve had a cherry cordial!
Cherry Blossom: Chocolate Covered Cherries One at a Time
The Cherry Blossom is a larger than usual cherry cordial. It’s a 45 g chocolate “bar” that comes wrapped in foil and tucked into a yellow box. If you’ve ever had a Cherry Mash or a Twin Bing, the chocolate coating is a similar mixture of milk chocolate and peanuts, except Cherry Blossom also has coconut in the chocolate coating. But the surprise comes when you bite into chocolate: instead of a cherry cream or truffle center, the Cherry Blossom contains a whole maraschino cherry, bathed in sweet syrup.
Invertase: The Secret of the Cherry Blossom
The syrup inside a Cherry Blossom is interesting, because it tends to be sort of thick and opaque near the bottom, but it’s more runny and transparent near the top. You might think that’s because there are two kinds of syrup in the chocolate, but it’s actually one syrup in two different states.
Commercially produced cherry cordials use a secret ingredient called invertase. It’s an enzyme that breaks down sucrose, or table sugar, into its component sugars: glucose and fructose. Invertase is an enzyme that occurs naturally in plants, and this breaking apart of sucrose is part of the natural growth process. But we humans figured out how to grow invertase, mostly from yeast, and we can now use it to magically transform solid sugars into drippy syrups.
Two places you will have seen invertase at work are in the center of a cherry cordial chocolate, and in the filling of a creme egg. In the case of a chocolate-covered cherry, the process is to add invertase to the cherry juice. The manufacturer dips the cherries in sugar and then sprays them with the invertase-juice mix. They repeat the process several times, so there are multiple layers of the sugar and invertase.
It takes about two weeks for the solid sugars to break down into a clear syrup. Sometimes this reaction isn’t complete when you buy your Cherry Blossom, so you’ll see a thicker, opaque white syrup inside as well as the clear syrup. You may even find that occasionally there isn’t really any syrup at all – just a more solid, white center.
This can happen if a manufacturer ships the Cherry Blossom too soon. Or it can happen if the chocolates are cold. This might happen during winter shipping, or because the shop keeper is storing chocolate in a refrigerator during a heat wave. Invertase acts more slowly when it’s cold. This results in a more solid centre in the chocolate.
Homemade Cherry Cordials?
Invertase isn’t exactly an ingredient most of us keep in our kitchens. So is it possible to make cherry cordials at home? Well, it is possible to get the invertase from a shop or website that sells candy making supplies. The folks at The Spruce also explain that if you want to skip it, you can just soak your cherries in brandy before you make up the chocolates. The alcohol the cherries absorb will gradually react with the fondant coating that’s in most old-fashioned cherry cordial recipes. It takes a week or two for the process to take place. So you’ll have to wait patiently to eat your cherry cordials!
Use prepared maraschino cherries as called for in most contemporary recipes. Or if you live in cherry country like I do, you could choose to create your chocolate-covered cherries using locally grown Bing or Lapin cherries. Start a bit sooner, and make homemade maraschinos.
Remember to store your cherry cordials at room temperature so the sugars will turn into syrup.
Cherry Cordials Make Frugal & Unique Chocolate Gifts
If you are looking for unique chocolate gifts for your Valentine, you might consider making homemade chocolate covered cherries. Add them to a gift basket with other sweets, like foolproof fudge and sucre à la crème. Homemade chocolates will set you back a lot less money than store-bought gourmet chocolate gifts. So you can afford to add other great additions like scented candles, a homemade body scrub, or luxurious massage oils and moisturizers to the basket.
Use the best chocolate you can get and put a little extra care into the packaging. Your sweetheart will love them as much as any chocolate from a chocolate shop!
If you’re going to indulge in any of these Valentine’s Day chocolates yourself, it goes without saying that these sugary treats should be consumed in moderation. If you are concerned about gaining weight from the rich foods you eat around Valentine’s Day, check out these tips for coping with holiday weight gain.
To learn more about how commercially manufactured cherry cordials like the Cherry Blossom are made, check out this video from the Food Network:
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Original content © 2017-2018 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Cherry Blossom photos © Margaret Osborne, used with permission
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