During Seattle’s Microsoft and Boeing boom in the 1980’s Pam Montgomery was a real estate maven. The birth of her daughter and approaching arrival of twins caused a reevaluation of her family’s lifestyle. She and her husband, JT, sold their business and purchased an 8,000 tree cherry orchard in Yakima Valley, Washington in order to bring up their children in a small town. After the harvest, Pam noticed that some cherries remained on the trees and on a whim, ate several shriveled cherries one day. As the fruit dried on the trees, the natural sugar intensified, resulting in chewy, super-sweet, delicious fruit. Pam converted window screens to a makeshift fruit dryer and a gourmet fruit and chocolate business was born. Chukar Cherries now has three retail stores in Washington state and an online store.
We picked out one of their holiday assortments so we could try a number of Chukar’s confections. It would be difficult to pick a favorite, because everything in the sampler was oh so yummy. Here’s a quick rundown of the different flavors:
- Dark Chocolate Cabernet Cherries – This combo of tart cherries, smooth dark chocolate and wine essence is a decadent delight. The intense tartness of the cherries is perfectly complemented by the dark chocolate, and the wine essence adds interesting complex notes.
- Milk Chocolate Classic Cherries – We would say classic with a modern twist. These are not your grandmother’s chocolate covered cherries with candied cherries drenched in sugar-laden creme. The intensely sweet dried cherries covered with smooth artisan milk chocolate are irresistible.
- Dark Chocolate Black Forest Cherries – Bing cherries enrobed in bitterweet cocoa equal yum! Enough said.
- Milk Chocolate Truffle Cherries – Sweet cocoa and bing cherries result in a lighter, sweeter bite than the Dark Chocolate Black Forest Cherries, but equally delicious in their own right.
- Milk Chocolate Honey Pecans – Roasted pecan pieces provide a nice crunch with deep honey notes, and Chukar’s smooth milk chocolate covering makes these treats fall squarely in the “betcha can’t eat just one” category!
As if the chocolate cherry combinations were not enough, the Montgomery Family has sweet dessert sauces, savory grilling sauces, cherry and spicy pepper combos, and pie and cobbler fillings to tempt your tastebuds. Check out their website and try not to drool over the delicious choices!