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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies

Now here's a cookie to get you going. I initially came up with the idea... well, to be honest, I'm not sure what the thought process was. It just seemed like it would be a really good combination of flavors. And it is! I often snack on chocolate chips and almonds or chocolate chips and dried tart cherries; this seemed like a natural extension.

These are really good. The cookies are somewhat crispy on the outside with a pleasant chew on the inside. The nuttiness of the almonds are divine, and when you hit one of the chewy, tart cherries? Bingo! You're average six year old may not see their worth, but you will.

Start by creaming the butter and sugar together. Then add the cocoa to this mixture. Start this process slowly, lest you end up with a cocoa cloud in your kitchen.

Beat the eggs and extracts. Add the remaining ingredients save for the "add-ins" and mix. In this case, that refers to the nuts and cherries. I always hand mix the add-ins. It gives me the heebie jeebies when the chips and nuts scrape behind the paddle in my mixer. It's not quite nails on chalkboard, but I can't help but thinking it's not good for the mixer or the add-ins.

Be sure you toast your almonds before adding them to the dough. I like to use the slivers and then I give them a few extra rough chops before throwing them in there.

Drop onto cookie sheets. I use a size 40 disher, which is about 1 3/4 TBS. Dampen your fingers and press cookie balls somewhat flat, until they're about a half inch thick. Bake at 375° F for about 12-15 minutes. It's a little harder to tell when they are ready, because you can't easily see when they are starting to brown. What I look for is a certain "dryness" of the cracks that form in the surface of the cookie. When the cookies are done, those cracks won't glisten quite so much anymore. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies
Yield: approximately 40 cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 eggs
1 2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup toasted slivered almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup dried tart cherries

Cream together the butter and sugar. Slowly mix in the cocoa powder until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and the eggs. Beat together well. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix just until incorporated. Mix in the almonds and cherries by hand.

Drop onto a parchment lined baking sheet using a #40 disher, or by dropping approximately 1 3/4 TBS mounds. Dampen your fingers and press the dough balls until they are about one half inch thick. Bake in a preheated 375° F oven for approximately 14 minutes. It can be difficult to tell when they are done based on color alone. Doneness can be determined by looking at how "shiny" the cracks in the cookie surface are. Look for the wet-look of the dough in those cracks to disappear. Let cool slightly on the cookie sheet before removing onto a rack to cool completely.

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