There are some things that make me feel unabashedly Christmas-y and the brilliant reds of the season are one of them. Luckily, these cookies from my friend Aimee get most of their rosy red color from maraschino cherries. These lovely cookies are not only festive, but surprisingly only lightly sweet.
White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, drained (save a tablespoon of the juice)and finely chopped (easiest with a food processor)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cold butter
12 ounces white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter, finely chopped (I food process it with the flour)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or Almond Liquor (which I prefer)
2 drops red food coloring (optional)- I use reserved cherry juice for more cherry flavor
2 teaspoons shortening
White nonpareils and/or red edible glitter (optional)
- Spread cherries on paper towels to drain well.
- In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 4 ounces (2/3 cup) of the chopped chocolate. Stir in almond extract and, if desired, food coloring (or reserved cherry juice). Knead mixture until it forms a smooth ball. My dough comes out really soft, I think its because I use more liquid than I’m supposed to, but I like more flavor from the almond and cherry juice.
- Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls (I use a cooking scoop, its easier and more uniform) Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls to 1-1/2-inch rounds.
- Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
- In a small saucepan, combine remaining 8 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate (I don’t like too much white chocolate so I drizzle the chocolate instead of dip), allowing excess to drip off. If desired, roll dipped edge in nonpareils and/or edible glitter. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set. Makes about 60.
- To Store: Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.