Vegan Chocolate Covered Cherries

This holiday season marked my first foray into making chocolate candies. I must admit that once I get an idea into my head, it’s very easy for me to get so carried away that I have to spend serious energy reeling in my mind that has left the gates at a pace far too fast for a marathon. Sometimes my mind can go in so many directions thinking of all the possibilities and things I want to do that I become physically exhausted just thinking of it all. Then I become paralyzed and don’t do anything because if I can’t do everything, why even do one thing? And then once I’ve thought so much about actually doing it, it almost feels like I have already done it. Does this happen to anyone else or is it just me?

I’ve noticed that this can happen to me when planning major events like moving, a wedding, and lately I’ve even noticed this happen in November when the Christinamas Monster shows up. It’s like I feel the need to recreate every experience I’ve had of every Christmas past into each Christmas, which is insane and completely impossible.

So in this chocolate making experiment, I averted a head’splosion by narrowing down my creations – I decided to stick with four different types of fillings and three different molds for this first time. I had to assure myself that I can always do more in the future – all of the possibilities and ideas don’t have to be done right this instant, Christina!

Also, the reason for this experiment was to treat my co-workers with something sweet for the holidays so I ended up creating a little tin to package them up as well. Here’s how it all turned out:

If it wasn’t super obvious, for each tin I cut out pretty pieces of paper to fit the top and then glued them with rubber cement like so:

Ok – onward to the recipes!

Chocolate Covered Cherries

  • 30 maraschino cherries (About  1 10-ounce jar)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (= 4 1/5 teaspoons) Earth Balance, softened (my 1.5 Tablespoons was approximate and it worked fine)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup (also an approximate 1.5 Tablespoons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
  • 1 (or more) chocolate cherry mold

Cherry Prep: Drain the cherries, remove the stems, and then pat them dry with paper towels. Set aside.

Buttercream/Sugar Dough: In a small mixing bowl combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt. Mix and then knead until smooth. It may take a few kneads to get to this state and don’t be concerned if it seems crumbly at first – it will eventually come together.

I covered the ball with plastic wrap and placed it in the refrigerator as I was preparing other candies, but I don’t think it’s necessary to do this. You can move right on to covering the cherries.

Buttercreamed Cherries: Take a small piece of the sugar dough—enough to cover a cherry—and wrap it around a cherry. You want to make sure the cherry is completely covered, but also make sure it’s a thin layer so that the cherry will fit inside the mold. Proceed with the remaining cherries and then place them on a loosely covered plate in the refrigerator.

Chocolate and Putting it All Together: In a microwave or heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate chip and shortening until completely smooth. With a paintbrush (or small spoon) paint the inside of the mold with the melted chocolate. Once you’ve completed every cherry in the mold, place it in the freezer for 3-5 minutes until hardened. Remove from the freezer and place 1 cream-covered cherry in each piece of the mold. Cover each cherry with the remaining chocolate. If your mold has less then 30 cherries you’ll need to repeat these steps. Refrigerate until hardened. They can be stored this way for several weeks. Bring to room temperature for a day or two before serving so that the buttercream inside can soften.

Final Words: My last comment about these is that I only had issue with a couple of the chocolates not coming out of the mold perfectly and losing their tops in the process, but that was due to a few of them having a too thin shell. After experimenting with thickness, I realized that as long as I created a reasonably thick chocolate coat on the mold (but not too thick because you have to leave room for the cherries!), I was golden.

Adapted from Taste of Home Best Holiday Recipes from 2008.

Ok – writing all of this out has exhausted me for now so I’m going to have to come back later to lay down the deets of how I did the sunbutter and coconut cups. Stay tuned!

Vegan Peanut Butter Blossoms

Oh, lovely cookies. As a kid these cookies were one of my all-time favorites. I first recall having them at my after-school babysitters and I didn’t even know what they were called (and frankly, didn’t even think to ask…probably because my mouth was stuffed full of ’em) so I always referred to them as “the cookies with the Hershey Kiss in the middle” and even as an adult I still didn’t know what their official name was and it wasn’t until I Googled the phrase “cookies with Hershey Kiss in the middle” that their sweet little name was divulged to me. Lo and behold they’re called Peanut Butter Blossoms! What’s funny is that I don’t recall my immature tastebuds ever detecting there was peanut butter in them so when I started baking these years ago I was skeptical that they were the real-deal from my childhood. However, after my first adult bite I knew they were the delectable treats I’d had from yore.

Onward with how to make these little babies—here is the recipe so that you too can enjoy a scrumptious vegan version of (perhaps) your childhood favorite:


1/2 cup Earth Balance, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1 egg-replacer egg (I used Ener-G, but you can use ground flax, bananas, etc. Whatever floats your boat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dark chocolate Lindt bar

1/2 cup (less or more depending on the size of cookie you make and how much sugar you want to coat them with) granulated sugar to roll cookies in


Preheat oven to 350°F.

By hand or with a stand mixer beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter. Meanwhile beat the Ener-G egg replacer with water in a small bowl (1.5 teaspoons powder to 2 tablespoons water) until thick peaks form. Then add the egg replacer and vanilla to the mixture and mix well.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the Earth Balance/sugar mixture and beat until well blended.

Shape the dough into balls and roll in granulated sugar. Set balls 1 1/2-inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or you could grease your cookie sheet as well.) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Pull out the cookies and add a chocolate chunk to the center of each. Return the cookies to the oven and bake until the chocolate is slightly soft, about two to three additional minutes. Pull them out of the oven and let them cool for a couple minutes before placing on a cooling rack.

***Lastly, I have to mention that over the holiday weekend I stopped at Spun Sugar in Berkeley and found an awesome chocolate mold that will change my relationship with these cookies for every Christmas here on out.

So next year these babies will actually have a completely vegan chocolate kiss in the center of them. Holy flip! I am stoked for the holidays next year!!!