To start, Chef spent time explaining the ingredients we were going to use in tonight's class for the cherries. He suggested we take store-bought maraschino cherries and let them soak in a flavoured syrup or alcohol for a few months to imbue them with even more flavour. Fresh, pitted cherries were also a possibility. Chef pointed out the importance of blotting the cherries dry so that their juices wouldn't colour the fondant.
This led into a discussion of how to make fondant, or, rather, why bother making it. Fondant is tricky to get right, and it's possible to buy it pre-made in cake supply shops. For extra shine, Chef said to add egg whites, while water is usually added to get a spreadable or dippable consistency. A neat trick he taught us when colouring fondant (say, for petit fours) is to go successively from light to dark (e.g. yellow to pink to red to brown). That way, you can get several colours from one batch of fondant.
When the icing was warmed to a loose consistency, we dipped the cherries into the fondant, coating them almost to the stem, then placed them on a tray prepared with a layer of icing sugar. Otherwise, the fondant-coated fruit sticks to the parchment making removal difficult. After tempering a batch of chocolate in a deep bowl, we dipped the cherries into the chocolate and set them on a clean sheet of parchment to set.
For our second product, we made almond clusters similar to the ones from last week. Chef mixed egg whites, granulated sugar and almond slivers together, then baked them in a moderate oven until they were dry and browned. After breaking up the clumps, we stirred in melted tempered chocolate and dropped spoonfuls onto parchment.
As you can see from the photos, my partner and I have still not got the tempering process down. I hope my new thermometer will help in this regard. Incidentally, Degrees Kitchen Store near Yonge and Eglinton carries both CDN and Thermoworks thermometers. The latter go for C$100 (!) which is about what you'd pay if buying from the US plus shipping.