Baking Day

When it comes time to bake cookies for my holiday cookie trays, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.  There’s the research phase, where I pore over cooking blogs and websites I follow (and this year Pinterest as well) and sift through cookbooks and magazine clippings in order to decide which cookies will be making an appearance this year.  I strive for a balance of old favorites and new recipes so that the recipients aren’t bored with the same things every year.  For me the best cookie trays include a good variety of cookies so that there’s something for everyone.  Not everyone loves peppermint, or chocolate, or nuts in their cookies and I try to be accommodating.  In short, I really think that I over-think this cookie tray business.

This year, I’m keeping the cookie types down to five types.  Okay, possibly six types, but no more.  I pared down (yes, six types are less than last year’s) and simplified but still managed to come up with a list that has a good variety of simple cookie recipes.  I started with these easy cherry shortbread cookies, half-dipped in white chocolate. I’m sure these will be requested in future years and will make their way onto the old favorites list in due time.  The original recipe calls for an optional two drops of red food coloring to be added to these, but I skipped it and I like the result that way.  I think the maraschino cherries stand out nicely against the cookie and white chocolate without the addition of food coloring.  The red sprinkles on the edge aren’t necessary, but considering that I think everything could use a little glitter or sparkle around the holidays, I went there.

cherry white chocolate shortbread cookie

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C. maraschino cherries, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 C. cold butter
  • 12 oz. white melting chocolate (I used Wilton), divided
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • red edible glitter, decorating sugar or sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Spread the chopped cherries out onto paper towels so they drain well.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour and sugar.

Add the butter to the bowl and pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Remove the mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Coarsely chop 2/3 C. (4 ounces) of the white chocolate.

Stir in the drained cherries and chopped white chocolate.

Stir in the almond extract.

Knead mixture until it forms a smooth ball.

Shape the dough into 3/4-inch balls.

Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten the dough balls to 1-1/2-inch rounds.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set.

Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet then transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.

In a small saucepan, cook and stir the remaining chocolate over low heat until melted.

Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off.

If desired, roll dipped edge in edible glitter/ decorating sugar/ sprinkles.

Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set.

Makes about 60.

If you’re making these ahead of time, they will keep well for about three days layered with waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature, or you can freeze them for up to three months.

Source: adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

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