There is something about holiday baking that just gets me feelin’ the Christmas spirit. Maybe it’s the warmth that comes from the oven and fills the kitchen in contrast with the cold outside, maybe it’s the sweet scent of baking butter and sugar that teases your tummy, or maybe it’s the thoughts of sharing delicious cookies and treats with friends and family as you get together to celebrate the season. Whatever it is, I adore it and can’t seem to get enough.
Baking is a big Christmas tradition in my family, and there is never a shortage of sweet treats to choose from. In fact, one might be inclined to skimp on turkey and mashed potatoes in an effort to leave extra room for cookies and squares and tarts!
There are a few Christmas cookie recipes that I turn to year after year, but I also try to pick a couple of new recipes to try every holiday season. These cookies, Cherry Almond Butter Cookies, joined my recipe stash a few years ago when I impulsively bought the Company’s Coming Most Loved Cookies cookbook right before Christmas. Their butter content might make you think of shortbread, and they have a similar buttery sweetness, but the addition of tart dried cherries and crunchy toasted almonds give them a delicate uniqueness. They have become one of my favorites, and if you give them a try, they might become one of your favorites too!
Cherry Almond Butter Cookies (from Company’s Coming Most Loved Cookies)
2 cups of butter, softened (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
5 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups of dried cherries (roughly chopped)
1 cup of toasted slivered almonds
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the egg and beat well. Add the vanilla and beat until smooth. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add to the butter mixture in 3 additions, mixing well after each addition until no dry flour remains.
Add the cherries and mix well. Divide the dough into 3 portions. Shape each portion into an 8-inch (20 cm) long log. Wrap each log with waxed paper. Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight. (This is an important step as it makes the cookie dough firm and easy to slice before baking). When ready to bake, discard the wax paper from each log. Cut into 1/3-inch (1 cm) slices. (I was able to get about 20 slices out of each log, for a total of 60 cookies). Arrange about 2 inches (5cm) apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
Gently press 2 or 3 almond slivers* in a decorative pattern on top of each slice. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until just golden. Let stand on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool.
*To toast the almond slivers, spread them evenly in an ungreased shallow pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes, stirring or shaking often, until lightly golden.
PS. Honey just informed me that when he found these in the freezer this afternoon, he polished off 8 cookies in one sitting. Hide these if you want them to make it until Christmas!
PPS. I apologize for the terrible light in my photos. I have zero natural light in my condo, and since I do much of my cooking/baking in the evening after work, the light is even worse! The odd Saturday or Sunday cooking venture might yield more favorable results, but I’m not going to limit myself to just those two days per week.