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.
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!
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:
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.
Heart them. In all their almond cherry chocolate 1 bowl glory.
Chocolate Cherry Blossom Cookies
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 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)
- 24 Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (optional)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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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