Chocolate cherry blossom cookies

As you all know, the Cherry Blossoms may not be at peak bloom this year. Due to the nonsensical weather we have been experiencing, the trees are mighty confused. Despite that, the Cherry Blossom festivities will still march forward so what better way to get into the spirit than making a Cherry Blossom themed treat!
 
 
Chocolate Cherry Blossom cookies: This recipe for Cherry Almond Shortbread cookies are packed with buttery goodness, semi-sweet chocolate drizzle, and topped with a Hershey kiss. Keep in mind that this cookie dough needs to be chilled, so make sure to plan accordingly! Thanks for the inspiration to this cherry blossom themed recipe, Sally from Sally's Baking Addiction.  
 
Ingredients:

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)

 
Directions:
 
*Bonus 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.
 
 

1.      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.

2.      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 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.

3.      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. 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.

4.      Bake for 11-12 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the edges. The cookies will puff up and spread slightly. Do not over bake. 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.

5.      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. You can use a plastic condiment bottle to drizzle the melted chocolate; a fork or spoon work too.

 
 

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