I have a confession: I don't usually like chunks of dried fruit. I suppose it's the texture more than anything that bothers me but for whatever reason I won't usually eat something if it has... say raisins in it. The same goes for dried blueberries, apricots, peaches, apples, persimmons, etc., etc.... you get the point.
And then last week at work I received this little gift:
Weird gift, right? Except... at my day job we build and sell tree shakers. Big machines that shake ripe fruit and nuts from their trees. The cherries in this container were shaken from their tree by one of our shakers. It's kinda fun to see the end product of everyone's labor, from the welders that molded the machine together to the farmers who grew the fruit. And here it sits on my desk, farm to table. Very cool.
What were we talking about? Oh yeah, cookies!
Even though I normally have a bad attitude about dried fruit, I was determined to incorporate these ruby gems into a recipe. I grew up on a cherry far for goodness sake, I can think of something! And that's when Cherry Almond Cookies were born.
I figured if I chopped the cherries up super fine, the texture would no longer be an issue and I would still get all that great cherry flavor. Problem solved!
I started with a base recipe from my Grandma Shirley that includes a healthy dose of natural almond flavor. Why almond? (Hold on to your seats because this is where the geek in me comes out.) Did you know that almonds and cherries are related? Yep, they are both from the Prunus genus of fruiting trees. If you have ever cracked open the pit of a cherry, peach or nectarine you may have noticed the resemblance to an almond. Their kissing cousins! Without hesitation I knew this flavor combo would work. Plus the tartness of the cherries would play well against the richness of the butter. One whole cup of butter to be exact. I never said these were health-food cookies!
My Grandma's original recipe (Chinese Almond Cookies) is so ridiculously simple, the only ingredient you might not already have in your cupboard is pure almond extract. If you don't have it, go get some! You can use it in a ton of recipes from baked goods to coffee to cocktails. And if you happen to accidentally splash a little on you while cooking, it will make you smell irresistible. To squirrels, that is.
Here is how simple the recipe is:
- Sift together your dry ingredients. And by "sift" I mean dump them all in the mixing bowl and use a whisk to quickly combine them all together.
- Add the fat of your choice, butter or Crisco. I usually choose salted butter. Cut the butter in til the whole mixture resembles wet sand. You can do it by hand or with a mixer.
- Add the eggs, almond extract and in this case, finely chopped dried cherries until it all comes together in one big ball of dough.
And now you're ready for baking! That whole process comes together in less than 5 minutes and with only 18 minutes of baking time you can have buttery, delicious cookies in under 30 minutes and you will love me because they are awesome! I will post the whole recipe below.
Have a terrific summer weekend, bake some cookies, enjoy this crazy life!
Cherry Almond Cookies by accordingtocarey.com
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or shortening, softened
1 slightly beaten egg
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup finely chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup slivered or halved almonds
Preheat oven to 325. Combine first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl, using a whisk to gently stir till all combined and no lumps are visible. With an electric mixer or by hand cut in butter or shortening until mixture resembles cornmeal or wet sand. With an electric mixer or large wooden spoon add egg, extract and dried cherries, mixing gently until one large, soft ball of dough forms. Using a small spoon, scoop out a small portion of dough and roll into a 1" ball, about the size of a walnut. Place balls on an ungreased baking sheet with about 1 inch in between each cookie. Take an almond half or a couple slivers of almond and lightly press them onto the top of the dough ball, pressing down slightly so the middle has a slight indentation. Bake cookies for 15-18 minutes, until the edges are just barely beginning to turn golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes before eating. Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.