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Cherry almond shortbread cookies topped with a Hershey’s Kiss. These buttery shortbread cookies have so much flavor and taste remarkable with an extra drizzle of semi-sweet chocolate.

chocolate cherry blossom cookies topped with a Hershey's Kiss

One of the most underrated ingredients in the baking world is almond extract. It has a sweet, aromatic flavor reminiscent of amaretto (yum) and pairs well with apricots, peaches, and vanilla. A touch of almond extract can turn a regular cherry pie into an unforgettable dessert and a shortbread cookie into an “omg I need this recipe” …recipe.

That being said, this magical little extract is incredibly potent. Though it can do wonders to a bowl of sprinkle laden puppy chow, almond extract can most definitely be overused. The beauty is in the balance. Finding just the right amount to transform your cookies from good to great. And it’s exactly what makes today’s positively pink recipe outstanding. The subtle kiss of almond extract. The chocolate drizzle helps too.

Don’t they just scream Valentine’s Day? Valentine’s Day!

chocolate cherry blossom cookies topped with a Hershey's Kiss and drizzled with chocolate

You may recognize these cookies– they’re the same cookie base recipe as my recent cherry almond shortbread cookies–> I made those 3-4 times over the holidays because the only thing better than their taste is their color. There’s just something about pink cookies. So, I made them again adding a Valentine’s Day twist. A chocolate kiss. Muah.

These are shortbread cookies. I’ve never been a huge fan of shortbread– a little too boring, much too dry, way too buttery, and borderline “blah.” That was until I had shortbread the right way. Baked correctly, shortbread can be crisp yet soft. Crumbly, yet moist. Dense, yet light. Basically when shortbread is done right, it is anything but plain.

Shortbread cookies are unique from other cookies in that they do not contain eggs or a leavening agent. Some recipes may call for baking powder, but I choose to leave it out. Same reason why I do not leaven brownies– you want to avoid an airy texture. We want dense. Butter makes the cookies incredibly rich and flavorful; there is definitely no subbing margarine here. Sugar sweetens, flour gives structure. These 3 ingredients create a remarkable base that can be flavored any which way. And almond cherry is one of the best.

Though the almond flavor is balanced and lovely, the cherry flavor shines bright. Both maraschino cherries and cherry juice go into the cookie dough. Tons of little cherry pieces speckled throughout every cookie. See:

chocolate cherry blossom cookie dough balls on a silpat baking mat

As I mentioned in my other shortbread cookie post, be careful baking these pink 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 brown dark spots on top of the cookies. A brown-ish underside (and edge) to these cookies is normal because, well, they are cookies.

Once the cherry almond cookies are baked, it’s time to adorn them with chocolate… my favorite part about Valentine’s Day. Press a Hershey’s Kiss or a chocolate heart (festive cuteness overload) into the tops of the baked cookies, finish with an optional-but-encouraged chocolate drizzle, and swoon. You just fell in love.

The Secrete to Keeping Hershey’s Kisses from Melting

Here’s how to prevent chocolate kiss puddles: While the cookies are baking, clear a space in your freezer, get out a small baking sheet (or plate), and unwrap the chocolate kisses.

After the cookies bake, let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then carefully transfer them (I use a metal spatula/turner for this) to a smaller baking sheet or a plate. Press a Hershey’s Kiss ever-so-lightly in the center of each cookie. Immediately transfer the cookies to the freezer for 10 minutes. The warm cookies help the candies adhere, and the cold freezer temperature keeps them from melting. I do the same thing for candy cane kiss cookies and it works like a charm.

2 images of chocolate cherry blossom cookies topped with a Hershey's Kiss and drizzled with chocolate

Heart them. In all their almond cherry chocolate 1 bowl glory.

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chocolate cherry blossom cookies topped with a Hershey's Kiss and drizzled with chocolate

Chocolate Cherry Blossom Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Cherry almond shortbread cookies topped with a Hershey’s Kiss. These buttery shortbread cookies have so much flavor and taste remarkable with an extra drizzle of semi-sweet chocolate. This cookie dough must be chilled, so plan accordingly.


  • 3/4 cup (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 (spoon & leveled)
  • 16 maraschino cherries (drained and chopped)
  • 24 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (optional)


  1. First, make sure you have enough room in the freezer/refrigerator because you’ll need to quickly chill the baked cookies with the Hershey’s Kiss on top in step 4.
  2. 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 all over the cookie sheet.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 then gently press a Hershey’s Kiss into each cookie and quickly stick the baking sheet in the freezer or fridge so the warm cookie does not completely melt the chocolate. Let the Hershey’s Kiss set on the cookies in the freezer/refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the freezer/refrigerator, then drizzle with chocolate: melt the 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 chocolate chocolate; a fork or spoon work too.


  1. 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.

Keywords: chocolate cherry blossom cookies, chocolate cherry shortbread

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I just made these and they are awesome. I used a trick to make it so I didn’t have to worry about fridge space for chilling. Freeze the kisses before you bake the cookies. When you take them out of the oven wait one minute and then press the frozen kisses in. No need to fit the cookies in the fridge/freezer, just the bag of kisses!

  2. I know it’s an essential part of the recipe, but is there a way to make these nut-free by not using the almond extract? Or is there a suitable substitute for that ingredient?

  3. I just tried making these cookies! I couldn’t find maraschino cherries in the supermarket though. So I used glace cherries and cherry juice. The pink colour didn’t emerge! Which is really sad. But they taste wonderful. So I will definitely seek out some actual maraschino cherries, instead of substitutes, and make these properly. I put chocolate chips in too! Instead of the Hershey’s on top (I just ate those :P).

  4. Making these today for my husband to take to a meeting! My only problem — after sitting in the fridge all night the dough is very very hard – too hard to make a pretty ball!! How do YOU do it!! Thanks Sally for all your good recipes

    1. Leave it out for around 45 minutes to slightly often and easy to handle. Thanks Donna!

  5. I made three batches for a Christmas, and I added red gel food coloring to make them a deeper red. After rolling the dough into balls, I found that putting them back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before baking to re-chill them helped them spread less and they turned out great. I also rolled some of the balls in sanding sugar to make them sparkle. I made 30 cookies per batch, which were perfectly sized. They are delicious!!!! Thanks for sharing your recipe. One question: What’s the best way to freeze them so the chocolate doesn’t turn white and the tips of the kisses don’t get damaged?

    1. Hi Kat! I’m so glad that you made and loved these cookies. Unfortunately, there’s no way around freezing them without the Kiss (maybe!) turning white or not stay wonderfully brown. Sometimes my kisses stay nice and brown when thawed out. (Thaw overnight in the fridge.)

  6. Dear Sally,

    Instead of the cherry juice, can I use steeped Cherry Blossom Tea? And can I use fresh cherries instead of maraschino cherries, as I have a lot on hand? Can’t wait to try this recipe – have tried your snickerdoodles (for a party) and everyone loved them!! 

    Thanks for all the great recipes!

    1. If you enjoy the taste of the tea, I don’t see why not. And fresh work, too. Thanks Julia! Enjoy.

  7. Hi! I made these today for Valentine’s Day and used dove hearts for the blossoms and drizzled white chocolate over…so cute!

  8. I’m not really familiar with shortbread cookies, but I made these today and they’re delicious! My only issue is that they have an undercooked feel when I bite into them. I cooked them for 11 minutes, so I’m not sure if that’s just the texture or if I should have cooked them longer. Any ideas?

  9. I’m about to make this recipe. I made a similar recipe and the cookies spread flat and were not a shortbread texture. What could I have done wrong?

    1. Hi Ruby, without trying the other recipe you mention ourselves, it’s hard to say exactly. There are a variety of factors that go into cookies overspreading, and this post might be helpful for you. Hope you enjoy these cookies!

    1. Hi Amanda, shortbread recipes traditionally do not contain an egg in order to get the signature buttery shortbread texture. How did you measure your flour? Be sure to spoon and level or use a food scale to weigh so that you’re adding just the right amount. Too much flour will dry out the cookies and make it harder for them to come together. Hope you enjoy the cookies!

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