December 6: Cherry Surprise Cookies

Standard

Cherry Surprise Cookies (from Honest and Truly)

Ingredients:

  • 10 T unsalted butter, softened (or coconut oil to make them dairy free)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T milk (or rice or soy or almond milk)
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla bean extract (I used almond actually)
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 30 maraschino cherries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until they are creamy and have come back together and the color is lightened. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and mix to combine. Once it’s mixed together, turn it up to high again for another thirty or so seconds to get it nice and fluffy.
  3. Add the salt and baking powder, and mix well. Then add the flour, and stir slowly until it’s combined.
  4. Prepare your cherries. Place a paper towel in a small bowl and remove the maraschino cherries from their juice. If they have stems, go ahead and remove them and let the cherries dry out a bit on the towel.
  5. Scoop out cookies using a cookie scoop or make little mounds with about 2 tablespoons of dough each. This is what you’ll use to start the cookie itself. They don’t need to be pretty yet, as we’re just focused on making sure that your cookies will all be approximately the same size.
  6. Next, start making the surprise. Pick up a dough mound and carefully flatten it in your hand. You want it to be a little over two inches in diameter, but they don’t have to be perfect circles.
  7. Place a cherry in the center of your flattened disc and fold the edges up around it. Crimp and seal the opening and roll the balls in your hand until they are completely sealed and nicely rounded. Place on a cookie sheet. Make sure they are a couple inches apart, though they don’t spread as much as many other cookies and can be a little closer than normal.
  8. If you’re dipping them in sugar, now is the time to do it. Place your sugar or sprinkles in a small dish and gently press the top of your cookie into the sugar before placing the cookie onto the cookie sheet.
  9. Bake in your 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden around the edge and the outside is starting to crack. Cool on your cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week.

I have been looking for the same cookie recipe for the better part of a decade. It has almond extract and maraschino cherries. The dough is almost like a butter cookie, and the cherry sits in the middle of it, totally hidden.

This isn’t it.

But it’s pretty close.

Butter cookie-based, maraschino cherries, and almond extract…okay, this recipe calls for vanilla bean extract, but I used almond because I love almond.

I mixed it together, poured a bottle of maraschino cherries in a strainer and rinsed, dried said cherries, and took mounds of dough and turned them into mini cookie dough pancakes. The cherries found a home in the dough, where I rounded them into balls.

I also dipped the cherry balls in red sugar. I have a small problem with sprinkles, as I’ve mentioned before. Here’s the current collection:

And I like looking for different colors, sizes, and mixes. But for these, I just used regular old red sugar.

For the first batch, I just dipped the tops in red sugar. This was before I knew the cookies would spread the way they did. And the result out of the oven looked like slightly pornographic cookies, if that particular industry was interested in middle age women.

So for the next batch, I rolled the whole cookie in red sugar, and we had success.

Once they cooled, my taste-tester and I determined that these were pretty darn good.

Maybe not the recipe I’ve been trying to recreate over the years, but still delicious.

December 5: Salted Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies

Standard

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. dulce de leche
  • 2 T sea salt

Instructions:

  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and egg yolk.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt. Stir with a whisk. Gradually stir the flour into the butter and mix just into blended.
  • Shape the dough into a ball, cover, and chill for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Shape the dough into 1 T size balls and place them 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using your thumb or the back of a teaspoon, press a slight indentation in the center of each ball. Take care not to press too hard down. If the edges crack while make the indention, simply pinch them back together to smooth them out. Otherwise cracks are okay.
  • Fill the indents with 1/4 teaspoon dulce de leche. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottom edges are slightly browned.
  • Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle the tops lightly with sea salt.

My man-friend had a birthday (shocking!) and a mom (even more shocking, considering he had a birthday) that shared with me some cookie recipes she’s made over the years. This was taken from a print out I took a picture of while we were at his mom and dad’s place for a birthday celebration. I can’t quite remember if she said she made this cookie often or not, because she and I split a bottle of chardonnay before (and a little during) dinner.

But I took the fact that I had pictures of recipes in my phone the next morning as a good sign that we had a lovely conversation about Christmas cookies.

The dough came together pretty well. I put it in the fridge for an hour, and when I got it out, I realized my fridge may be set a little too cool.

When I went to ball the dough, I had to sort of chip away at it. But it worked and eventually all the dough thawed out.

I like thumbprint cookies, and I definitely like dulce de leche, so this is one I was looking forward to.

And I really can’t believe I’ve never baked with dulce de leche. Or bought it before. Or bought two before, opened both and ate the first one while I baked with the other.

Just add spoon.

At the end of the recipe, you’re supposed to put sea salt on these. I don’t have sea salt. And it was 1 a.m., and I was in my pajamas and not about to leave the house for sea salt.

But they are pretty good, even without sea salt.