Monday, July 26, 2010

Cookie #42 - Michigan Buried Cherry Cookies

Every Independence Day weekend, Traverse City, Michigan holds the National Cherry Festival.  With over 500,000 attendees, the festival holds events like cherry pit spitting contests, cherry pie eating contests as well as a parade and the crowing of a Cherry Queen. 
In 1987, the festival was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for baking the largest cherry pie weighing in at over 28,000 lbs and over 17' in diameter.  That's a lot of cherries!!  Just look at the pan:

*photo courtesy of

For this cookie, I decided to try something a little different.  I found this cookie through Better Homes & Gardens Magazine.  My initial thought was to do a dried cherry, white chocolate chip cookie but that is so plain.  I wanted something with a different technique - something I've never done before.  This cookie fit the profile. 
A juicy maraschino cherry is placed in the center of a scrumptious almond scented butter cookie and topped with a chocolate topping before being baked.  The smell while baking was unreal.  The chocolate and almond fragrance filled my entire house and had some serious staying power.  I can still smell them and they've been out of the oven at least an hour.  My husband's favorite candy is those Queen Anne Cherry Cordials and he loved these.
I was really happy with how juicy the cherry stayed after baking.  You can see the juice on the cutting board in the picture below.  I hope they stay that way after sitting awhile.
The original recipe calls for a half cherry in the center of each cookie, but I chose to use a whole one.  I'm glad I did, because it really added a nice body to the cookie.  If you choose to use a whole cherry, you'll need to double the amount of cherries listed below.  I'm sure a half is just as good, but I had an abundance of cherries in my fridge begging to be used for something other than Rob Roys
The other change I made was I used semisweet chocolate for the topping because that was what I had on hand.  This was pure accidental as I couldn't sworn I had a bar of bittersweet chocolate on hand.  Perhaps it disappeared during one of my sleep-walking/sleep-eating episodes.  That's another story....

1 10-ounce jar maraschino cherries  (2 jars if you're going to use a whole cherry per cookie)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, *chopped  (I used semisweet and the flavor was good, but bittersweet I'm sure is better)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drain cherries, reserving juice. Halve enough large cherries to make 42 to 46 pieces. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and almond extract until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each ball. Place a cherry in each center.
For frosting, in a small saucepan combine chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate melts. Stir in 4 teaspoons reserved cherry juice (I had to use more). Spoon 1 slightly rounded teaspoon of the frosting over each cherry piece, spreading to cover cherry.** (Frosting will be baked on the cookies, so it should be thick. If it is too thick, thin it with additional cherry juice.)
Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are firm and just start to brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes: 42 to 46 cookies

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