Chocolate covered cherries, also known as cherry cordials, have been enjoyed by Americans and indeed the world for generations. Early settlers from Europe were so fond of cherries they made sure that some were stashed among the cargo when they sailed the Atlantic Ocean to reach America in the 1600s.
Although there are a variety of cherries now considered to be native to North America, the common belief is that cherries originated in Turkey. Cherries are known to be one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world and it seems as though our love of cherries is deeply ingrained in human culture.
The English began soaking sweet cherries in kirsch, a cherry brandy, and covering them with chocolate in the 1700s. These cordials, as they were known, were savored for their intoxicating effects, and reserved for holidays. The French created a similar confection called Griottes around the same time using a sour cherry called a griotte, which they also soaked in kirsch and smothered in chocolate. Both English cordials and French Griottes made their way to America in the 1700s and immediately became in demand to no one’s surprise.
Americans began making cordials using a strong, sugary syrup liqueur by crushing whole cherries, cooking them in sugar and brandy, then covering with chocolate. These became known as cherry cordials, but other fruits were also made into cordials using the same brandy and sugar method. Cherry cordials were the most popular and usually reserved for holidays and special festivities. Eventually, the alcohol was removed from the recipe during prohibition, and cherry cordials were instead made with cherry flavored sugar syrup. By 1929 the first chocolate covered–cherries made with sugar syrup and no alcohol began to be mass–produced in America to meet the increased demand.