Black Forest Fudge

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6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup marshmallow creme
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup cherry preserves
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup dried tart cherries (about 3 ounces)
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Line 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with foil. Place first 4 ingredients in medium metal bowl. Mix sugar, condensed milk, cherry preserves, whipping cream, 1/3 cup water and butter in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals. Add dried cherries.

Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Boil until thermometer registers 230F, stirring constantly but slowly and tilting pan if necessary to submerge bulb of thermometer, about 17 minutes.

Immediately pour hot syrup over chocolate mixture in bowl (do not scrape pan). Using wooden spoon, stir vigorously until chocolate melts and fudge thickens slightly but still remains glossy, about 3 minutes. Transfer fudge to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Chill until firm, about 3 hours.

Lift fudge from pan, using foil as aid. Fold down foil. Trim edges of fudge. Cut fudge into 24 pieces. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Refrigerate in airtight container.) Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

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