Soft and buttery shortbread cookies flavored with cherry and almond, then finished off with sweet white chocolate.
Today’s recipe in Sally’s Cookie Palooza is so pink, it makes Barbie’s corvette look pale. The cookies get their color from maraschino cherry juice and their flavor from butter, almond extract, and cherries. Cherry and almond is a divine combination and these have to be one of my favorite Christmas cookies yet. (Update: they even went on to inspire these chocolate cherry blossoms!)
You’ll find three main ingredients in most shortbread cookie recipes: butter, sugar, and flour. All three are imperative for structure, texture, and taste. Sometimes there’s vanilla and salt, but there’s no egg and no leavening. I’ve had a lot of problems in the past with shortbread cookies spreading. There’s so much butter that spreading is often an issue unless you have the right recipe or unless you bake them in a cake pan to make wedge-shaped shortbread cookies (so buttery! so good!).
Today’s recipe starts with these raspberry almond thumbprint cookies, a dough very similar to my basic shortbread cookies. Adding a thin liquid like this (and liquidy maraschino cherries) to a cookie dough so high in butter can spell disaster though. I tested with more flour, less flour, more cherry juice, less cherry juice, etc. I ended up reducing the butter slightly and that seemed to solve all the problems. The shortbread cookie recipe below still has all that extraordinary butter flavor and also includes cherries.
Keep a watchful eye on these cookies as they finish up baking. From a texture standpoint, overbaking the cherry almond shortbread cookies strips their tender, soft, slightly crumbly texture. And you’re left with hard cookies—not crumbly—just hard. And from an appearance standpoint, overbaking will leave orange brown dark spots on top of the cookies. Not a huge issue, but it replaces the pink!
While the cookies have so much cherry, butter, and almond flavor, I felt the cookies lacked something on the outside. A simple white chocolate drizzle makes them a little snazzy, right?
A cookie almost too pretty to eat.Print
Soft and buttery shortbread cookies flavored with cherry and almond, then finished off with sweet white chocolate. This cookie dough must be chilled, so plan accordingly.
- 3/4 cup (12 Tbsp; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) maraschino cherry juice
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 16 maraschino cherries (drained and chopped)
- optional: 4 ounces white chocolate
- Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Switch mixer to medium speed and add the the sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on high, slowly drizzle in 1 Tablespoon of the cherry juice. Beat for 1 minute on high. Turn the mixer off and pour the flour into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a very soft dough is formed, then, with the mixer still running on low, add the chopped cherries. Beat just until the cherries are disbursed in the dough. Press the dough down to compact it and tightly cover with plastic wrap to chill until firm, at least 4 hours (and up to 3 days). If the cookie dough is not sufficiently chilled, your cookies will spread.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (silicone mats preferred to reduce spreading). Shape the cookie dough into balls. Mine were about 1 Tablespoon of dough per ball. Make sure they’re nice and smooth. If you find that the balls of dough are sticky and/or have gotten a little soft after rolling- place the balls of dough back into the refrigerator to firm up. You absolutely DO NOT want soft dough.
- Bake for 11-12 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the edges. The cookies will puff up and spread slightly. Do not overbake. In fact, I only baked mine for 10 minutes. I prefer them a little soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before drizzling with white chocolate. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, in 20 second increments, stirring after each increment until melted. I used a plastic condiment bottle to drizzle the melted white chocolate.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Store cookies covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 6 days. Shortbread cookie dough may be frozen up to 2 months; baked cookies may be frozen up to 2-3 months.
- Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.
Keywords: cherry almond shortbread cookies, cherry almond shortbread