Grand Marnier Chocolate Covered Cherries

I haven’t been sleeping lately. I’ve always been a solid 8- to 9-hour sleeper. I chalk it up to too many thoughts and anxiety around one situation. So I’ve been asked what am I doing at the wee hour of 3 a.m.? Well, here’s what I’ve been up to.

1. Zoning out on Pinterest.
2. Writing One Line a Day.
3. Staring at the pile of Christmas presents that need to be wrapped, wishing them to wrap themselves.
4. Drinking wine, pretending my wine rack is an Advent calendar.
5. Praying, praying and more praying.
6. Midnight cleaning sprees, including the stove, microwave and refrigerator.
7. Painting my nails in glitter.
8. Watching mindless reality shows.
9. Midnight grocery shopping trips – no one is there!
10. Speed reading through every book in my Kindle queue.
11. Laying in bed, staring at the dark, counting down until the alarm will ring.
12. Making these chocolate covered cherries.

Grand Marnier Chocolate Covered Cherries

Grand Marnier Chocolate Covered Cherries

2 jars maraschino cherries, drained (about 4 1/2 dozen)
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
2 bags milk chocolate chips
1 bag dark or white chocolate chips

Start by draining the cherries and placing in a shallow dish. Pour Grand Marnier over cherries to marinate overnight or longer – depends on how boozy you want your cherries!

Remove cherries from Grand Marnier and place on a baking pan lined with foil. Freeze for at least an hour.

Start by mixing 2 cups powdered sugar, margarine, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt. Knead into a dough-like mixture. If sticky, gradually add remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar. Cover and refrigerate until firm for at least an hour.

Begin by taking approximately 1 teaspoon of the sugar mixture, rolling into a ball and flattening it in the palm of your hand to the size of a silver dollar. Wrap the sugar mixture around your cherry to form a ball. Place back on the cold baking pan you removed from the freezer. Once all cherries are wrapped, refreeze for at least 30 minutes.

In a double boiler, gradually melt milk chocolate chips. When melted, dip frozen cherries in chocolate to coat and return to baking pan. Refrigerate until cooled and solid.

In a double boiler, melt dark or white chocolate chips and drizzle over chocolate covered cherries. Refrigerate (one last time!) until cooled and solid. Store in an air tight container in a cool place up to one month. Cherries are best served after two weeks once the juices have had time to set.

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Christmas Cards

As a kid, mom and dad would spend a December Saturday with a box or two of store-bought Christmas cards at the kitchen table with the address book. Each card got a new year’s greeting and a signature, sealed inside an envelope, addressed, and stamped. Simple.

Fast forward a few years. Christmas cards started to include long, typed mass produced letters with a synopsis of the last year – who was playing what sport or had broken that bone or got accepted to this college – along with a few photos from summer vacation added digitally through this newfangled thing called a scanner.

Last year, the Christmas cards that arrived in my mailbox began to cross a threshold; the digital photo postcards created by online companies like Snapfish and the like with engagement and wedding and birth and family photos outnumbered those old-fashioned store-bought boxed cards with a handwritten note.

I still buy the store-bought boxed cards. I don’t have an engagement or a wedding or children to put on display on the front of my cards – unless of course I used a photo of myself, in which case my friends would probably submit me to some “Awkward Family Photos” website for singles. I also still write a customized handwritten note for each recipient, longer than the generic two-sentence holiday greeting. It’s one holiday tradition that I think is important to preserve and your one chance before the end of the year to make that personal connection with a friend you haven’t kept in touch with or make a wrong a right.

It took me writing several cards per night for two weeks straight to check off every person on my list. Some nights exhaustion or the carpel tunnel in my hand stopped me. But many more nights I was an emotional stress ball – any watermarks are just proof of authenticity.

I saved the hardest Christmas card for last. The one I’ve agonized for days over whether to send or not. And it couldn’t just be a boxed card. I perused the greeting card aisles for half an evening and then considered stashing it away in the desk drawer with the leftover boxed ones that inevitably get passed on to someone else the following year.

And then, what do I write?

The truth won out, like it always does for me. No elusive words or pretend niceties. At least for today, I’m now out of words.