This no-bake holiday confection is prepared with both red and green candied cherries, sweetened condensed milk, toasted walnuts, and crushed vanilla wafers. These are humble ingredients, but Candied Cherry Slices are impressively delicious and decadent!
How long have you been reading my blog? Has it been long enough to know that I sometimes plan out my recipes months in advance? Would you believe me if I said this Candied Cherry Slices recipe has been on my baking list for about three years? Yes, Dear Reader, three years!
Now, I’m not about to claim the genius that is Taylor Swift by telling you that I’ve been secretly setting Easter eggs in my posts over the past three years. No, that’s not it at all! The reason it has taken me three years to post this recipe is that until recently, I have not been able to find vanilla wafers! What is with that? Is it just where I live or are vanilla wafers hard to find everywhere?
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Needless to say, we were shopping a few weeks back and I scanned the cookie section for the impossible-to-find vanilla wafers. I wasn’t able to find them, but what I did find was the gluten-free version! I picked up 4 boxes without hesitation and prepared this recipe immediately. Was it worth the wait? Oh, my Lord, yes it was! These are absolutely wonderful! I can’t wait for you to try them too!
LORD BYRON’S 24 COOKIES OF CHRISTMAS – VOLUME 5
I’m so excited about this year’s cookie countdown! This is the fifth consecutive year; can you believe that? Each of the previous years has included 24 cookies and this year will not be any different. I’ll share a new Christmas cookie recipe each and every single day for the next 24 days – even on Saturday and Sunday!
You might be asking yourself, how many Christmas cookie recipes could one possibly have or need? Well, I say you can never have too much of a good thing. And, I love having lots of choices. Who wants to bake the same holiday cookies year after year?
So, welcome, Dear Reader, to Volume 5 of Lord Byron’s 24 Cookies of Christmas! Fresh off of my 12 Edible Wreaths of Christmas and my 12 Bars and Squares of Christmas series, I’m ready to plow through the next 24 days with you!
You really don’t want to miss one of these recipes, so if you have not yet subscribed to Lord Byron’s Kitchen, I encourage you to do so. That way, a new recipe will be emailed to you every day. You won’t have to bother to come looking for it! Like in previous holiday baking countdowns, I like to mix up the recipes in the series so that there is something for everyone. Are you ready!!??
Looking For More Christmas Confections?
Lord Byron’s Kitchen has more than enough to satisfy your sweet tooth! Click on the links below to see a countdown series of holiday recipes from that category!
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO PREPARE THIS RECIPE
The following is a list of the ingredients needed to prepare this recipe. For exact amounts and measurements, refer to the printable recipe card located near the bottom of this post.
- Vanilla Wafers – I’m using the gluten free kind that you can see here. But, you can use the regular type if you can find them. They are called Nilla Wafers. Don’t confuse vanilla wafers with those crispy confections. They are a vanilla-flavoured, crispy cookie – not a wafer!
- Walnuts – Walnuts have a mild, buttery flavour which is why they are perfect for cookies and cakes.
- Canned Sweetened Condensed Milk – This recipe has not been tested with low-fat condensed milk. Depending on where you live, the size of the can may differ. Be sure to have at least 1/2 cup!
- Candied Cherries – These are very popular in Christmas baking, especially in fruitcakes. I buy the whole red and green candied cherries separately so that I can pick which colour I want to use. If you buy them whole, you can chop them if you prefer smaller bits of cherry, like in the case of this recipe where I’ve quartered them.
- Confectioner’s Sugar – This superfine sugar is sometimes called powdered sugar. It is used in frostings quite often. When dusted lightly onto cakes and cookies, it adds just a touch of sweetness, but more importantly, it looks very visually appealing!
The first thing you should do it to toast your walnuts. How do you do that? It’s very simple! To be perfectly honest, this applies to any nuts or seeds, not just the nuts in this recipe. If you are not familiar with toasted nuts, then please try it just once. You will probably never revert to using nuts in your cooking or baking again without toasting them first!
I have tried using non-stick frying pans for toasting, but nothing works as well as a stainless steel pan. You could use a cast iron pan, but since they get very hot and retain heat so well, it’s easier to burn the nuts. See the frying pan in this picture? That’s the exact one that I use all the time. I’m not suggesting you run out and buy this same cookware set, but I want you to see the pan – remember, do not use non-stick if possible. You’ll get better results will plain stainless steel.
So, unlike most cooking where you’re required to preheat first, you don’t want to apply that same rule to toasting nuts. Add the nuts to a cold pan. Place the pan on the burner and turn the heat on – no higher than medium and probably even less if using a gas burner.
Keep the nuts moving about. I use a rubber spatula. Once you start to smell that warm and toasty aromatic smell, pay close attention. The nuts will take on a darker colour. Don’t let them get too dark. Once you’re satisfied, immediately remove them from the hot pan and transfer them to a dinner plate where they can be spread out to cool.
SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK
I have a lot of recipes here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen with sweetened condensed milk as one of the ingredients. (Click here to see them!) Growing up in Newfoundland, it was always something I’ve been aware of. But, that’s not the case for everyone. I get many questions from readers about it. For someone not familiar with the gooey, sticky canned milk, it might be easily confused with canned Carnation condensed milk, for instance. Let me explain what it is here.
So, first of all, it’s condensed. The milk is condensed by removing water. This can be accomplished by applying heat. The water will evaporate causing the milk to condense, which thickens the milk. Sugar is added to sweeten the condensed milk. The main purpose of adding sugar is to prolong the shelf life of condensed milk, which can sit on room-temperature shelves for years. Sugar prevents microorganisms from growing in the milk and helps to thicken it even further—it’s added after the milk has been boiled, reduced, and pasteurized.
If you find unsweetened condensed milk, it’s most likely that it’s simply evaporated milk or condensed milk, which is thick, but not gooey and sticky. Evaporated milk is often used as a cream added to tea or coffee. If you are unfamiliar with it, please read the can carefully. Also, shake it – can you feel the liquid splashing about inside the can? If so, it’s not sweetened condensed milk; it’s evaporated or condensed milk only!
In this particular recipe, I used two cups of candied cherries in total. I opted to use half red and half green cherries. Obviously, you can use all red or all green if you choose. I love candied cherries and I love how the red and green colours just jump out and create a wonderful contrast to the butter-coloured cookie. They’re perfect for Christmas!
When I’m looking to use candied cherries, Paradise Fruit Company is my go-to source. They have the brightest, most plump, most perfectly round red and green cherries. You can get all of their products online. Be sure to check out the website!
Just for a bit of trivia, let me just add this in here. Candied cherries are basically maraschino cherries that have been processed in a thick, sugary syrup. They become intensely sweet and take on a chewy texture, which works very well in baked goods.
Lord Byron’s Annual Christmas Cookie Series
Did you know that Lord Byron’s Kitchen has been sharing a 24 Cookies of Christmas Series for the past several years? Click on the links below to see all of the recipes from each series on one page!
HOW TO MAKE CANDIED CHERRY SLICES
Depending on the size of your food processor, you might need to work in batches. Pop the vanilla wafers into your processor and pulse a few times to crush them. They do not need to be super fine. In fact, the little crushed bits add a nice texture to the finished slices. Once done, transfer the crushed vanilla wafers to a mixing bowl.
Add the chopped, toasted walnuts, sweetened condensed milk, and the red and green cherries to the mixing bowl as well. Use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients together very well.
Divide the dough into two portions. On a clean surface, or onto a sheet of parchment or waxed paper, form each portion into a long rectangular shape. Dust each side of the shape well with confectioner’s sugar. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Unwrapped chilled cookie logs. Slice into ½ inch slices. Keep refrigerated.
STORING, PACKAGING, & FREEZING
When it comes to most cookies, they taste best at room temperature, but they don’t hold up well to being left out on your countertop for long periods of time. That is not the case with Candied Cherry Slices. These cookies are soft and pliable and need to be kept refrigerated. Store them in a food-safe container in your fridge. When you want one, two, or half a dozen, take them out of the container and serve them up. They do not need to sit at room temperature.
If you plan to freeze your Candied Cherry Slices, you certainly can! You can freeze the logs whole, meaning that there is no need to slice them first. Or, you can slice them and lay them flat into a clean, food-safe container. Lay a sheet of parchment paper between each layer to prevent sticking. The container must be freezer friendly! You’ll want to ensure a very tight-fitting lid too. I use these quite often when freezing baked goods. I like to place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the container before pushing the lid on. This helps to create a better seal. The goal is to keep all of that freshness locked in!
You can freeze these cookies for up to three months. If you plan to give previously frozen cookies as a gift, I would gift them as a whole log. Wrap the log in parchment and tie it with a festive ribbon. Be sure to tell the recipient to keep them refrigerated or frozen until ready to slice!
If I have not answered all of your questions in the text above, don’t hesitate to reach out to me! You can contact me by sending me a message in the comments section further down the page. I will try my best to answer as soon as possible! You might reach me even faster by following me on Facebook and sending me a private message. Scroll down to follow me and never miss another recipe!
Finally, as I stated previously, every day I will be posting a new recipe. If you miss one, don’t fret. You can find my entire collection of Christmas Recipes right here! There are over 200 Christmas recipes and counting. There’s something for everyone! Cheers!
Do You Like This Recipe?
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Candied Cherry Slices
- 12 ounces vanilla wafers, crushed (Nilla Wafers)
- 2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup red candied cherries, quartered
- 1 cup green candied cherries, quartered
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- Add the crushed vanilla wafers, chopped walnuts, sweetened condensed milk, and the red and green cherries to a large mixing bowl. Use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients together very well.
- Divide the dough into two portions. On a clean surface, or onto a sheet of parchment or waxed paper, form each portion into a long rectangular shape.
- Dust each side of the shape well with confectioner’s sugar. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
- Unwrapped chilled cookie logs. Slice into ½ inch slices. Keep refrigerated.
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