These festive, delicious cookies are rich, buttery, and lightly sweet.
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.