Monday, December 8, 2008

Buried Cherry Cookies

I've never been a huge fan of chocolate-covered cherries, but it turns out that if you take out that white creamy stuff inside and plop a chocolate cookie underneath, I actually love them. Who knew? This is another cookie for our holiday bakesale at work, and let me just say this: It's a good thing I only had to bring a dozen of them and that the recipe makes 40 cookies, because I just can't seem to get enough of these. They're absolutely succulent, and so cute too! To me, this is the type of cookie that epitomizes Christmas: decadent and irresistible, the kind of treat that just makes you happy. These are awfully rich, so be sure to have a tall glass of milk nearby. (And I'm already scheming about other ways to use this technique; you could put caramel and pecans inside instead of cherries to make a turtle cookie, or put a dollop of peanut butter mixed with vanilla and powdered sugar under the frosting and have a buckeye cookie! The possibilities are endless, and delicious.)

Buried Cherry Cookies

1 10-ounce jar maraschino cherries (42 to 48)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk or low-fat sweetened condensed milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain cherries, reserving juice. Halve any large cherries. In a medium mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in cocoa powder and as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour.

2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each ball. Place a cherry in each center.

3. For frosting, in a small saucepan combine chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate melts. Stir in 4 teaspoons reserved cherry juice. (If necessary, frosting may be thinned with additional cherry juice.) Spoon 1 teaspoon frosting over each cherry, spreading to cover.
4. Bake about 10 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Makes 42 to 48 cookies

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