Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies
Posted by loavesandstitches
Cherries are probably one of my favorite fruits. I could easily eat a giant bowl of sweet cherries in one sitting when they are in season. Sadly, the season for cherries is very short, so the rest of the year I make do with either frozen cherries, cherry juice, or dried cherries.
Sour cherry juice has become a staple in our house lately since it has been discovered that they are naturally high in melatonin, a chemical that helps regulate your sleep cycles. I am a notoriously poor sleeper, so when I heard about this melatonin in cherries thing, I was eager to try it. It’s been a few months now, and I can’t say that I always remember to drink my one ounce of cherry juice every morning and evening, so I may not be the best judge of its efficacy. However, what I can say is that I don’t sleep any worse and I rather enjoy having my little dose of cherry juice every morning and evening.
Dried sour cherries are absolutely my favorite dried fruit. I love them in my oatmeal, in my breads, and now, with this new cookie recipe, I love them in my cookies. It’s hard to beat the combination of chocolate, dried cherries, and almonds. They compliment each other really nicely in this cookie. The soft chocolate cookie base with its chunks of chocolate bar almost melt in your mouth while the cherries bring a tanginess that offsets the sweet chocolate. Add in the crunchy texture of slivered almonds and you have what may be one of my favorite cookies of all time.
If you can find it, get some sour cherry jam to add to the cookie dough. I make my own, but many grocery stores are carrying it now. It adds an extra level of fruity flavor to the cookie. You can leave it out, but it really is very yummy with it and the leftovers are wonderful on toast.
Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies
makes about 3 dozen
1 cup (200g) light brown sugar
12 Tblsp (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tblsp (60g) sour cherry jam
1.25 cups (175g) unbleached all purpose flour
.5 cup (60g) dutch processed cocoa powder
.25 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1.25 cups dark chocolate, chopped into bits or chocolate chips
1 cup (140g) dried sour cherries
1 Tblsp kirsch, cherry juice, rum, or water
1 cup (140g) slivered almonds, toasted for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven
If you are baking right away, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line at least two baking sheets (12 by 18 inches in size) with parchment paper. Make sure your oven rack is in the center of your oven.
In a small microwavable bowl, combine the dried cherries and kirsch. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 45-60 seconds or until the liquid is boiling. Remove from microwave with oven mitts and shake the bowl a few times to distribute the liquids. Set aside to cool to room temperature while you go on with the recipe. The plastic wrap with shrink down and that is alright and actually desirable. It helps with the maceration process.
Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until very light and fluffy about 4-5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the cherry jam, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Mix until everything is evenly distributed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add all the dry ingredients at once to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are almost all incorporated. Stop the mixer and add in the chocolate, nuts, and macerated cherries (take care that these are cool when you add them or they will melt your dough). Mix slowly until just evenly distributed.
If you are baking now, use a large tablespoon or small ice cream scoop to scoop out the dough into balls and place them 2-3 inches apart on your cookie sheets. Press the dough down lightly with moistened palms until they are about a half inch thick. Bake one pan at a time for 12-15 minutes. The cookies should be firm around the edges, but still soft (but not doughy) in the middle. Cool on the pans.
If you want to freeze the dough and bake later, simply scoop out the dough, using the same size scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet. This time, you can space them just about an inch apart since you will be freezing them. Cover the dough balls in plastic wrap and press lightly to ensure all the balls get pressed into disks about a half inch thick. Freeze the pan for at least 1-2 hours. Once they are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag and store in your freezer for up to 6 months. When you are ready to bake, follow the spacing instructions above and add a few minutes to your baking time.