White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread
I first made these White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread cookies as my 279th recipe of 2010. For some reason, it’s taken me years to get around to making them again. Perhaps I forgot about them among all my recipes for brownies and rich bar cookies. And that’s truly a shame.
These delicious little shortbread cookies are delicate but not too delicate. They’re tender rather than crumbly. They’re rich but not too rich, and sweet without being too sweet (unless you dip them in white chocolate). Almond extract shines through the cookie. The cherry flavor stands out in bites with cherries, and white chocolate chips give a different texture to the shortbread.
These cookies need no additional decoration. They sparkle if you coat your glass well with sugar before you smash them, and they’re a pretty, light pink, which makes them rather festive for Valentine’s Day, or for anyone you know who likes the color.
These were a hit when I first made them. I took them to work, and no one walked past the container without taking one. A coworker even requested I make more for a potluck later in the week.
In 2010 I said the cookie recipe, as written by Better Homes and Gardens, was easy to make, and it was. But I decided they should be even easier. The original recipe called for using a pastry cutter to cut cold butter into the flour and sugar; this time, I decided to soften the butter and mix the dough together in my stand mixer. This made the dough much easier to make and handle. I still use maraschino cherry juice in the dough instead of food coloring; if you don’t drain your cherries well or use a little more juice, the cookie will be brighter (for example, the cookies in the bowl versus the cookies alone). I recommend chopping the cherries with a small food chopper or bullet blender (affiliate link) to make the cherries as fine as possible and have them in every bite. I personally skip the white chocolate coating (although I’ve included instructions for it below) because it’s too sweet for me. A small 2-teaspoon cookie scoop (affiliate link), scraped flat against the bowl, is the perfect amount of dough for these cookies.
Not only are these cookies delicious; they have shelf life. The cookies stay good for days (at least 5) in a sealed container. And if you shape and freeze the cookies, you can bake them straight from the freezer by adding 2 minutes to the baking time.
These festive, delicious cookies are rich, buttery, and lightly sweet.
- 1 cup unsalted butter (softened if using an electric mixer; cold if using a pastry cutter)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup maraschino cherries (drained and chopped as finely as possible; I recommend a food chopper or bullet blender for this) (a little liquid is okay)
- 2/3 cup white chocolate chips (4 ounces)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (use vanilla, or more cherry juice, to accommodate nut allergies)
- 1/2 teaspoon maraschino cherry juice (optional; mainly for coloring)
- 2 drops red food coloring (optional)
- 8 ounces white chocolate or baking squares with cocoa butter (finely chopped)
- 2 teaspoons shortening
To use an electric mixer: In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, cream softened butter with the sugar and salt until well combined. Add flour, and mix until combined. The mixture will be a little crumbly. Add chopped cherries, the 2/3 cup white chocolate chips, almond extract, and cherry juice and/or food coloring. Mix until the dough is combined.
To make by hand: In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, and flour. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the cold butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and the 2/3 cup white chocolate. Stir in almond extract and cherry juice (and food coloring if using). Use your hands to knead the dough and form it into a ball (dough may be crumbly at first, but will come together as you knead).
Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. (A small cookie scoop works well here.) Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten balls to 1 1/2 inch rounds using the bottom of a glass well coated in sugar.
Bake at 325F for 10-12 minutes (I actually recommend 12), or until centers are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet before transferring cookies to a wire rack. Cookies will keep at room temperature in a sealed container for at least 5 days.
If making a glaze, combine 8 ounces white chocolate with the shortening. Heat over low heat in a small saucepan until melted. (Or, use your microwave in 10-15 second bursts, stirring after each one, until melted.) Dip half of each cookie into the mixture, allowing excess chocolate to drip off. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set.
You can make these in advance. Shape and flatten the cookies, freeze them, and place in a freezer bag for longer storage. Bake from frozen for 2-3 extra minutes when you're ready for cookies.
(Post updated with new writing, photos, and recipe. Originally published October 2010.)