Chocolate cherries for Valentine’s Day
I’ve just made these cherry chocolates as a surprise Valentine’s day dessert (shh – don’t tell Justin!). They look just like regular chocolate-dipped cherries, but no! The stone inside has been replaced with a water-based sloe gin ganache.
This is my first foray into water-based ganache, and if I’m completely honest it only came about because I forgot to buy cream and had to make do with what I had in the house (laziness being the mother of invention). That said, I’m pretty happy with the result: a cleaner chocolate taste in the same vein as the current trend for chocolate sorbet replacing chocolate ice cream.
Regular readers will know that cherries are my chocolate-dipped fruit of choice, but I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of ejecting the stone inside and filling the cavity with something tasty. If I’d had any marzipan in the house this morning, it would inevitably have found its way into the recipe (definitely one to try next time!). What I did have was a bar and a half of 85% cocoa Lindt. Mistakenly bought instead of the 70% nibbling chocolate, the 85% is just a bit too austerely dry for eating on its own and had been loitering in the baking cupboard ever since. This recipe puts it to good use, but if I was starting from scratch, I would probably still plump for the 70%.
Secret centre chocolate cherries
30 fresh cherries
100 g dark chocolate
For the ganache:
60 g dark chocolate
35 ml warm water (35 – 50⁰C is perfect)
10 ml sloe gin
a few drops almond extract
honey and sea salt to taste
- Stone the cherries with a cherry pitter, leaving the stems intact. You might find that a little patch of cherry sticks to the stone – carefully detach it and keep on one side, as you can use it to plug up the hole after the ganache goes in. Leave the cherries, cut side down, on a piece of kitchen paper in the fridge to absorb any excess moisture.
- To make the ganache, melt the chocolate in a bain marie. In a separate bowl, mix together the warm water, sloe gin and almond essence. When the chocolate is ready, take it off the heat and incorporate the water mixture a tablespoon at a time. It looks pretty unpromising at first, but persevere through the clumpy split phase. If after you’ve incorporated all the water it hasn’t smoothed out, you can always use an emersion blender to bring it back.
- As my chocolate was so bitter I added honey to taste, which also helped to bring out the flavour of the sloe gin and almond essence. I also couldn’t resist adding a little sprinkle of sea salt, but I am a bit of a salt-aholic.
- You now need to wait for the ganache to cool to a pipeable consistency. If your house is cold, room temperature may do, otherwise use the fridge, but check on it regularly to make sure it doesn’t set too solid.
- Spoon the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a 3mm or similar plain nozzle. Push the nozzle into the cavity left by the stone and fill the cherry with ganache. Replace the cherry plugs that you reserved earlier then put the cherries in the fridge.
- Melt the chocolate in a bain marie. Make sure the cherries are completely dry then dip them up to their stalks in chocolate. Let the excess chocolate run off for a few seconds then leave the cherries to set on a sheet of baking parchment or a non-stick baking mat. If the cherries are well chilled beforehand, this should only take a few minutes.