Fresh cherries are such a treat in both taste and substance. Besides being rich in lots of vitamins and minerals, cherries are also high in antioxidants and are one of the few food sources of melatonin, which helps to regulate your sleep cycle. If you've never had a handful of fresh, pitted, sweet-fleshed Bing cherries in the summertime heat, your taste buds (and your body) are simply are missing out. They are easily one of my favorite fresh treats alone.
...but a little indulgence never hurts, right? With a bag of fresh cherries sitting in my fridge, at risk of going bad before they could all be consumed, I decided to shake them up just a little. Chocolate and cherries are such a classic combination, but the chocolate-covered maraschino cherries with the syrup or creme are just too unnatural and overly sweet for me. So I decided to throw together a more natural, but delicious, rendition of those. Inspired by a chocolate bar I enjoy, I added almond for a little bit of an earthy touch that pairs nicely with the slight tartness of the cherries, but avoids the slight aftertaste that almond extracts can offer.
Chocolate Covered Cherries
(note: these proportions will gives you a large amount of chocolate--enough for an entire bag of cherries. if you're don't need that much, I suggest making about a third of these measurements. I overestimated and ended up having about half my chocolate left over!)
- 1.5 c semi-sweet chocolate chips* (if you'd like the recipe to be 100% dairy free, just substitute your favorite dairy-free chocolate option)
- large spoonful of coconut oil
- 3 T almond butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- whole fresh Bing cherries, or your other favorite red variety, washed and dried
Remove chocolate from heat. Dip cherries individually into chocolate mixture (stemmed cherries work best here), swinging them or using a spoon to coat all sides. Stir chocolate occasionally between cherries to maintain texture. Placed finished sheet of cherries in the fridge. Once the chocolate has hardened, they can be transferred to a smaller container for storage. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.*
HEAD'S UP: fresh cherries contain pits which, while easy to eat around, you should be cautious of when biting.
*if you'd like your chocolate coating to remain completely solid at room temperature, you could use chocolate candy coating instead of chocolate chips. you could also probably skip or reduce the coconut oil if you go this route. but I personally like popping them straight out of the fridge and into my mouth (and prefer the taste of melted chocolate)!