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Friday, March 14, 2008

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

These little beauties are White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread (click for a free downloadable copy of this recipe). The dough is absolutely DELICIOUS (and no raw eggs, so safe to eat!). It took all my will-power not to eat the whole bowl of dough! I will say that these were the most labor-intensive of the 3 recipes, but they're so yummy, it was worth it! They were a big hit at the cookie exchange, too. Try 'em, you'll like 'em!

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

Prep: 40 min. Bake: 10 min. per batch
1/2 c. maraschino cherries, drained and finely chopped
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. cold butter
4 oz. white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter, finely chopped
8 oz. white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter (for melting)
1/2 tsp. almond extract (I used vanilla)
2 drops red food coloring (optional)
2 tsp. shortening (see notes at end of recipe)

Directions: Preheat oven to 325°. Spread cherries on paper towels to drain well, then chop finely. In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 4 oz (2/3 c.) of the chopped white chocolate. Stir in almond extract (or vanilla) and, if desired, food coloring. Knead mixture until it forms a smooth ball. Shape dough into 3/4” balls. Place balls 2” apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls to 1 1/2” rounds. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until centers are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. In a small saucepan, combine remaining 8 oz white chocolate and shortening.* Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. If desired, roll dipped edge in nonpareils, sugar, or crushed candy canes. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set. Makes about 60.

*Notes: I substituted vanilla for almond extract. I melted my chocolate in the microwave (according to the package instructions), and found that the shortening made it a little too runny. I would probably omit the shortening in the future.

This recipe came from Better Homes & Gardens' 100 Days of Holidays email series. Incidentally, if you haven't already signed up for this email series, you should. They put it out every year and it includes tips for Halloween - New Years. They have recipes, decorations, gifts, etc. Really a great resource.

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