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  • Writer's pictureBrent McTavish

International Chocolate Covered Cherry Day

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

If you find you haven’t indulged quite enough over the festive holiday season, Chocolate Covered Cherry Day is a great excuse to indulge some more. The day for this exalting international celebration is annually on the 3rd of January.

A traditional Cherry Cordial or French Griotte Bonbon cut open with its delicious cherry brandy (Kirsch) oozing out
Delicious Cherry Cordial or French Griotte Bonbon

Of course the thought behind chocolate covered cherries is unbelievably simple: chocolate is scrumptious and so are cherries. So one day somebody must have said, "Why not join the two together and make something even more delicious?" Hence the now famous chocolate covered cherry was conceived!

So what is the history of this delectable delight?

Well from my research it seems to depend on if you are American, British or French. Each country has its own bias as to who first made this remarkable discovery. However, since Cocoa & Grapes is located in France I shall begin with the French story.

It appears that during the 1700s, a confectionery sweet called Griottes (gree-OAT) first appeared in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France, bordering Switzerland. One of this regions major crops were cherries. So it stands to reason that one day, someone, who knows who, decided these long-stemmed sour griotte cherries should be covered in chocolate... Et pourquoi pas? Eventually local cherry brandy (Kirsch) was kindly added to the recipe, et voilà, the birth of Griottes transpired.

Chocolate covered cherries are produced using morello cherries (called griottes in French) that have been macerated for a long time in “eau de vie”, a colourless fruit brandy produced by means of fermentation and double distillation. Generally, after draining, the cherries are dipped in a solution that consists of sugar, water, and glucose. After dipping, the sugar glaze that forms on the cherries is allowed to dry. The cherries are finally dipped in melted, tempered, dark chocolate and permitted to dry.

In France, most higher quality chocolate covered cherries contain the cherry stone, however not always the stem. So be careful when popping them in your mouth or you might break a tooth! The explanation as to why the stone isn't taken out is on the grounds that the stone is an additional source of flavour for this delectable Bonbon. Similar to why the grape pits are used in making red wine.

A few creators utilize a mechanical process to make their chocolate covered cherries. In this situation, the stones and often to the stems are removed before the cherries are soaked and then coated.

In Britain, chocolate covered cherries, are more formally called Cherry Cordials, and are basically a chocolate shell filled with a cherry (often without the stone and stem), then sugar syrup and plain or flavoured alcohol is added too.

The word “cordial” actually derives from the Latin word “cor,” which means “heart”, and it refers to a medicinal tonic, which was believed to stimulate the heart and improve circulation.

The medicinal use of cordials in England continued through the 1400s, after they first arrived from France. These, cordials were taken after a big meal to settle the stomach and aide digestion. Therefore, historically, it does appear that the eventual English Chocolate “Cherry Cordials” potentiality did derive from the French Griotte Bonbon.

In America it seems as though Chocolate covered cherries were first introduced by the Masarik Family. They were the purveyors of “Cella’s Confections” in New York, and in 1929 their chocolate covered cherries were an immediate hit. Years later, in 1985, Cella’s Confections was bought from the Masarik Family by Tootsie Roll, though the family is still part owners of the product. Today, almost 90 years after they were made for the first time, Cella’s chocolate covered cherries are a cherished American treat, for their liquid centre and extra gooey taste.

Fancy Chocolate Covered Cherries or Cherry Cordials with little ribbon bows
Fancy Chocolate Covered Cherries

So there you have it, a very brief history of the French Griottes, Cherry Cordials, Chocolate Covered Cherries. Now all that remains is for you get your eager hands on some, pop them in your mouth and enjoy away. For me these delectable delights are one of my favourite foodie Christmas specialities. Every year I experience great enjoyment from tasting each and every chocolate makers creations that I can find.

Till next time...

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