Monday, February 08, 2016

White Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Cookies

I was trying to empty my pantry of nuts and dried cherries (without making granola, for once), so I made these cookies from Baking with Less Sugar. The almond and cherry flavors go very well together, of course, but both are already sweet. Throw in some white chocolate and vanilla, and all you need for these is a total of 6 Tbsp. of granulated sugar, which is really not a lot! We all loved these cookies. They were great, very flavorful and almondy and definitely sweet enough.

Note that the original recipe calls for making cookies by portioning the dough into the size of ping-pong balls, which was supposed to make 16 to 20 cookies. I made my cookies a bit bigger (roughly the same size I normally make chocolate chip cookies), and I had closer to 40 cookies in all; I baked a dozen at a time.

1 cup (120 g.) slivered almonds
1 cup unsalted butter or vegan butter, at room temperature
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 large eggs
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. almond extract
1 2/3 cups (230 g.) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (70 g.) almond flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
12 oz. (335 g.) white chocolate, chopped into small chunks
1 ¼ cups (200 g.) dried cherries, about half of them coarsely chopped

Put the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool. (Since I was emptying my pantry, I used sliced almonds, so I lightly pan-roasted them instead.)

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is well combined, light, and fluffy. (I always beat it for less time that called for, but I think that vegan butter reacts differently, so you don’t want to overdo it.)

Beat in the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and almond extract on medium speed for 2 or 3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the almonds, white chocolate, and dried cherries to the flour mixture and toss to combine. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix until the flour is completely incorporated.

For best results, scrape the dough into an airtight container and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight before baking. The next day (or when ready to bake), place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

Using a small ice cream scoop or rounded spoon, drop the dough in balls the size of a ping-pong ball onto the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Press the dough balls flat with the palm of your hand. Bake for 14-18 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and slightly soft in the center (be careful not to overbake; for me, 10 minutes seemed to do the trick). Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool on the sheet for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. The unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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