I concluded my little holiday book (which people will receive in lieu of those traitorous fruits) with this footnote:
I have seen my Drunken Cherries through to their conclusion, and there's been no step which hasn't met with chaos. As of this writing, the cherry-casualty list is: four jars of cherries, three batches of failed fondant, two bags of sugar, a quart plus a pint of brandy, several pounds of chocolate, many afternoons, and most of my dignity.
I never did succeed in making fondant. One batch was like stone, one was like tar, and after I realized that my thermometer wasn't recording the proper temperatures, my last batch crystallized like rock candy. So I gave in and bought some pre-made. Of course, the weird cake store was out of fondant when I walked in, so I had to wait yet another day. This has been typical of the Cherry Path, and in the end the cherries proved stronger than me: after finally seeing several cherries through to their chocolate-drenched conclusion, most of them had holes which leached goo like the blood from battlefield wounds. Some died on the table. The ones I patched up in triage were misshapen and monstrous looking, more Frankenstein than delightful dessert.
When I was deciding whether or not to package them up anyway, I noticed to my chagrin that they had developed a case of "bloom," a separation of the chocolate solids, making them even less attractive (if that were possible) and serving as a ringing note of failure in my epic cherry-making disaster. Finally, when I checked on them this afternoon, I found that the remaining chocolate shells had imploded in a tide of cherry effluvia, apparently preferring to take their own lives rather than continue on in ignominy. They expired on December 17th, 2004 around 2:33 p.m. They are entombed forever in two little Tupperware sepulchers.
That's it, then. Cherries, RIP.