Valentine's Day Treat: Chevre-cherry bonbons
Makes 12 bonbons
An unusual contrast of tart cheese, dark cherries, and semisweet chocolate, these tidbits will be a lovely surprise. They're simple to make in advance, and I guarantee they are sure to impress.
5 ounces fresh white goat cheese (chèvre), chilled
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
6 canned dark pitted cherries in heavy syrup, drained (about 2/3 of an 8-ounce can)
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
Mix the cheese and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer until well blended. (The mixture will look crumbly.)
Spread the cherries on a paper towel and gently pat dry. Spoon about ½ tablespoon of the cheese mixture into your hand and gently press to flatten. Place a cherry half in the center, then gently roll between your hands to form a ball as you cover the cherry with cheese. Repeat with the remaining cheese and cherries.
Arrange the balls in a single layer on 2 small plates and cover with plastic wrap.
Freeze for about 1 hour.
When you are ready to make the bonbons, heat water until simmering in the bottom pan of a double boiler over high heat (see Tip). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or baking parchment.
Put the chocolate in the top pan of the double boiler and place it over the simmering water. Reduce the heat to medium-low; stir occasionally as the chocolate melts. Remove the pan from the heat.
Remove one plate of cheese balls from the freezer. Using a candy-dipping tool or a spoon, immerse one ball in the chocolate; gently roll to coat it. Lift and tilt the dipping utensil to allow the excess chocolate to drain back into the pan. Place the bonbon on the prepared baking sheet. Dip the remaining cheese balls. (Work quickly because it is important the the cheese balls remain frozen during this step.)
Refrigerate the bonbons until the chocolate is set, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bonbons in a single layer to an airtight refrigerator container for storage. Serve the bonbons chilled.
If the bonbons are made with very fresh cheese, they will keep for up to 5 days in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator. Or, freeze them for up to 2 weeks; thaw in the refrigerator.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.