Soft and buttery shortbread cookies flavored with cherry and almond, then finished off with sweet white chocolate.
Recipe #4 of my Christmas Cookie Palooza is so pink, it makes our bridesmaid dresses look pale. The cookies get their girly 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 best cookies yet!
Seriously, how can you not smile biting into a cookie like this??
Do you like shortbread cookies? They were never a favorite when I was younger. I’d often turn my nose up to them in favor of something a little more… exciting. Like a chocolate peanut butter sprinkle carmel drizzled candy bar loaded something. But now, I can’t get enough of these tender little cookies. I can now appreciate their simple taste, crumbly texture, and out of control butter flavor.
There are three main ingredients in shortbread cookies. Butter, sugar, and flour. Diet cookies? These are not. All three are imperative to the structure, texture, and taste of shortbread cookies. 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. There are also no eggs present to give the cookies structure.
I played around with my Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies (also shortbread) to include cherry juice. I made many, many failed attempts. Adding a thin liquid like this (and liquidy maraschino cherries) to a cookie dough so high in butter can spell disaster. 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 cookies still have all that extraordinary buttery flavor, but now include the taste of cherries.
My favorite part about these cherry almond shortbread cookies? Besides the color of course. All the cherry chunks. Chunks of sweet maraschino cherries in every single bite.
Be careful baking these cookies (1) from a texture standpoint, overbaking shortbread cookies strips their tender, soft texture. And you’re left with hard cookies. Not crumbly. Just hard. And (2) from an appearance standpoint. Overbaking will leave orange brown dark spots on top of the cookies. A brown-ish underside (and edge) to these cookies is normal because, well, they are cookies.
The white chocolate drizzle! I mean, the white chocolate pizazz! 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?
They are so soft inside. ↓ ↓
A cookie almost too pretty to eat.
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Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies
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.
Yield: about 2 dozen
- 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) maraschino cherry juice
- 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
- 16 maraschino cherries (drained and chopped)
- 4 ounces white chocolate (optional)
- 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 350F degrees. 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 tip: 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.
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Try my Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies next!
And these Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies.
See more Christmas recipes.
See more Cookie Palooza recipes.