Place cherries on several paper towels; gently press out excess moisture. Let stand at least 1 hour to drain.
Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat butter, corn syrup, chocolate and half-and-half with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar. Mixture will seem dry and crumbly. Turn fondant out onto work surface; knead until smooth. Divide fondant into 24 pieces. Shape each piece into ball. Flatten each ball slightly; mold around drained cherry, covering cherry completely. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until very cold and firm.
Line large cookie sheet with waxed paper. In 1-quart saucepan over low heat, melt vanilla chips and shortening, stirring constantly until smooth. Place over pan of hot water to maintain dipping consistency. Holding stems, dip fondant-covered cherries into melted chips; draw bottoms of cherries lightly over edge of pan to remove excess coating. Place on paper-lined cookie sheet to set. Place cherries in small paper cups, if desired. Store in tightly covered container. Centers will soften slightly in 10 to 14 days.