Cookies for your Valentine

I call these cookies Cherry Almond Butter Cookies.  They’re simply delicious!  Almost a shortbread, actually.  That buttery, almond taste is velvety smooth.  The almonds and dried cherries give them a chewy and crunchy texture all at once.  It’s a recipe inspired by a chocolate chip cookie recipe on a Land ‘O Lakes butter package.  You can find that recipe HERE.

I first made them as a challenge for Squidoo.  We were asked to create a recipe for Valentine’s Day and this was my entry.  Since I loved the texture and the buttery taste of that cookie (without the chocolate)  I thought using pure almond extract instead of vanilla and dried sweet cherries and almonds instead of chocolate would be perfect.  I modified some of the ingredients and made a drop cookie that was as delicious as I imagined it would be!

Today I decided to try my hand at rolling out the chilled dough and cutting the cookies with a heart shaped cookie cutter.  Worked like a charm!

Two recipes in one.  Love it.

Cherry Almond Butter Cookies

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces dried sweet cherries (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 cup sliced almonds

2 cups sifted confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
2 or 3 tablespoons water

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Finely chop the dried cherries and set aside. Lightly chop the sliced almonds. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the butter and both sugars and beat at medium speed until very creamy, scraping bowl once or twice.

Turn mixer to low speed and gradually add the flour mixture until well mixed. Fold in the chopped cherries and the almonds.

Chill dough for about one hour or until firm enough to not be sticky.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

Roll the dough to almost 1/4 inch thick and cut with a heart shaped cookie cutter.  You might need to trim them if any large pieces of cherry are sticking out.  Place 2 inches apart on the  cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until very lightly browned. DO NOT OVER BAKE.  Gently remove cookies to cooling racks.

These are wonderful just as they are but they’re pretty with a drizzle of glaze, as well.

To prepare the glaze or icing:

Mix powdered sugar with water, 1 tablespoon at a time until smooth and of a glazing consistency. Drizzle the icing over the cooled cookies.

Almond Triangles

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This recipe appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune a couple of years ago just before Christmas.  It was the grand prize winner in an annual contest the newspaper sponsors each year looking for unique holiday cookie recipes.  I wish I could think of the name of the winner…she deserves all the credit for this gem of a recipe.
I fully intended to make them as a Christmas cookie but through clever procrastination and getting ready to leave for our trip, I didn’t.   Clever procrastination because the recipe looks kinda time consuming…it’s not a recipe to throw together at the last minute.  It’s not a difficult recipe, though.  If it looked difficult I might have just thought, “Well, this looks yummy!” and that would have been the end of that.
So I tossed the newspaper page in with the recipe books I wanted to bring.  Thank goodness!  I made them a few days ago during a really, really rainy day.  Good decision!
I think they need a day to “cure” or whatever you want to call it.  They’re better the next day.  The winner of the contest said that they freeze well which is fortunate because if I don’t stick the rest of them in the freezer I will eat them all.
These buttery, rich cookies would be fabulous to give as a gift in a pretty tin or cookie box.  Not just for the holidays, either.  An any time gift.
NOTE:  I recommend reading the entire recipe before starting.  I almost beat all four sticks of the butter at once which would have been a disaster.  Also, when I added the almonds I was convinced that there were waaaay too many almonds and you could probably get by with a few less.  But, in the long run, there really weren’t too many.
Here’s the recipe:
 
Almond Triangles
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3/4 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 lb. (about 5-1/4 cups) sliced almonds
Carefully line a 10- by 15-inch jellyroll pan (or rimmed cookie sheet) with aluminum foil, shiny side up.
To prepare dough:  In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter until creamy, about 1 minute.  Gradually add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add egg, almond extract and salt, and beat until thoroughly combined.  Reduce speed to low, add flour and mix until just incorporated.
Press dough evenly into pan and push dough up sides.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using a fork, prick dough in 20 to 24 places all across the dough and bake 10 minues.  Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To prepare topping:  In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, honey, remaining 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
Increase heat to medium-high, bring mixture to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes without stirring.  Remove from heat and stir in cream.  Stir in almonds.
Spread almond mixture evenly over crust.  Return pan to oven and bake until bubbling, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer pan to a wire rack to cool  While bars are still slightly warm, cut into triangles.
ENJOY!

Grandma Verna’s Sugar Cookies

A very special cookie recipe in out house, this recipe is from my husband’s cousin’s grandmother.  Grandma Verna is no longer with us but if she were, she’s be well over 100 years old.  So I don’t know where she got this recipe but you can bet it’s probably been handed down through the generations.

But enough about that…here’s the recipe:

Grandma Verna’s Sugar Cookies
What you need:

1 cup sweet butter

1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

What you do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Thoroughly blend butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.

Cover and chill the dough 30 minutes or until ready to bake.  Divide the cookie dough in half.  Keep one half chilled while you roll the other.

On a floured surface, roll to about 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut with cookie cutters of your choice.  Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake until just starting to turn golden about 8 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack, then frost and decorate however you like!  I generally coat each cookie with a thin layer of decorator’s icing and sprinkle with colored sugar or other decorative sprinkles.

Blogger Mom On Time Out has a great post on how to make colored sugar.  It’s easy to do and her photos are so pretty they could be art prints!

Tip: Keep flour in old spice shaker and use for dusting cookie cutting board

Decorator’s Icing

Mix 2 cups confectioner’s sugar with 1 tablespoon of water and add a teaspoon at a time until you have a thin spreading consistency.

Sugar Cookie Dough in a Roll
Slice & Bake Sugar Cookies

One nice thing about this recipe is that if you don’t have the time or don’t want to spend forever cutting out all the shapes (but isn’t that the most fun?), you can roll the dough into cylinders, wrap them in waxed paper or plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator or freezer.  When you want to bake a batch, simply slice them into rounds, place on a baking sheet, bake, ice and decorate!

Melt-in-your-mouth Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I first baked these cookies at my daughter’s house in Kansas after she told me about the flourless peanut butter cookies that she and her husband had at a restaurant.  They loved them.

Naturally, I had to hunt up a recipe.  There are lots of recipes online but this one from Joy the Baker caught my eye.

Here’s my version:  It makes about two dozen light and buttery-flavored 2-inch cookies.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup of all-natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky, your choice)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease with butter.

Combine the sugars and baking soda.  Add the peanut butter and mix 1-1/2 to 2 minutes until well combined.

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The cookie dough

Add the egg and mix thoroughly, about another minute or two.  The dough will be quite thick.

Roll the dough into balls the size of a walnut in the shell…mine were about 1-1/2 inches in diameter.

The dough is slightly oily as you roll it into the balls but they hold together well.

(NOTE July 15, 2011:  Today when I made these I added the peanut butter and the egg all at once.  It was easier to blend and the dough was a little softer.  They baked up just fine.  Just thought I’d  pass that on.)

Unbaked Cookies

Press with a fork to flatten slightly.  You can do a crisscross pattern with the fork if you like but I just pressed the cookie ball once.

All baked and ready to gobble up!

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are lightly browned.  Cool the cookies on the pan for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

I just made this batch, today and I’m quite sure they won’t last very long.  Two dozen isn’t a lot when your husband is a “cookie monster”!

Note:  If you check your ingredients carefully, these could definitely be a gluten-free cookie.  I used Smucker’s Natural Chunky Peanut Butter which is gluten-free.

The baking soda should be gluten-free, but check with the manufacturer to be certain.

Enjoy!