Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chocolate Cherry Time

This is something you should know: now is the time for chocolate covered cherries. Lots and lots of them. Whether you like it or not. Actually, the real time for them in the US is National Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day - January 3. But you do see them around the holidays quite a bit. Just plonk the box down in a hedge or a holly bush, like the Brach's people, whatever you have handy, and there you go: instant holidays!

They are are sometimes called Chocolate Cherry Cordials. The term cordial, which I thought referred to the syrup or liqueur, is used for any candy with a chocolate-coated fruit filling. 

The Brach's ad is from the mid 1950s and made me wonder, when WAS the first chocolate covered cherry? 

Feeding America
The earliest advertisement I found was for the Loft Store in New York City in 1907. They sold chocolate covered cherry clusters for 29 cents a pound. It was by far the most expensive item in the ad - peanut brittle was 10 cents a pound, and Maplo Walnut Bonbons were 19 cents - those sound really good, too. I need to get to this store! And in 1914 a candy place in upstate New York sold fancy-sounding Martinique Chocolate Cherries, adding that "everyone knows how tasty a chocolate covered cherry is."  Yes. Yes we do. And now is the time to have them.

Conclusion based on a small but intense burst of research: chocolate covered cherries were probably made commercially beginning around 1900. Before 1900? You're on your own. You need to make some.  Just ask Bertha F. Kramer - also known as Aunt Babette, who (as far as I can tell) wrote down one of the first recipes for this candy, in the 1880s.

Aunt Babette's Cook Book, published in 1889, is one of the earliest Jewish cookbooks published in the US; it was reprinted many times and has recipes for lots of French, German, American and Jewish dishes. If you click the link you can go take a look. Yesterdish has a really interesting post referencing Aunt Babette and her cookbook, too. 
Aunt Babette will tell us how to make "Chocolate Cherries."  And she doesn't care how much washing up we will have to do afterwards. She tells us to roll candied cherries in melted chocolate - a messy job easier said than done. But Aunt Babette wasn't done yet. She adds:

If desired cover each cherry with French cream and then roll in the chocolate. Use a long hat-pin for this purpose.

If desired! Oh, Aunt Babette. If I do this it will be like Lucy and Ethel working at Kramer's Candy Kitchen. I will just used dried cherries and dark chocolate, or maybe even buy some from Brach's, thank you very much.

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