My mom came down last year for a day of baking. She brought this cookie recipe with her. It actually called for Hershey kisses, but when I opened up my pantry, some hooligans had eaten all but a handful of the bag. We had already made the dough, so I came up with the idea of filling the cookies with chocolate ganache instead.
We tried like four cookies with a kiss, and filled the rest with ganache. And this happened to be one of those times that having pantry thieves paid off. We actually preferred the cookies with the ganache! It stays nice and soft, so you get a good taste of chocolate in every bite.
These cookies are buttery and just melt in your mouth, and I love the burst of cherry flavor! The cherry juice makes them a lovely pink color, and adds to the flavor. So does the almond extract, so don’t be tempted to leave it out. If you like chocolate covered cherries, you have got to give this recipe a try!
Cherry Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp maraschino cherry juice
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries, well drained
1/2 cup sugar for rolling
1/2 cup cream
1 cup finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips)
Beat butter and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl till creamy. Add the almond extract and cherry juice; beat till well combined. Stir in the flour and salt, then gently stir in the chopped cherries. Shape into 1″ balls and roll in sugar. Place about an inch apart on silpat lined or lightly greased cookie sheets. Make an indentation in the middle of each cookie with the back of a round teaspoon or your thumb. Bake at 350° for about 8-10 minutes. If needed, use the back of the spoon to re-form the indentation. While cookies are baking, prepare ganache. In a small saucepan, heat cream over medium heat till just barely boiling. Don’t let it scorch! Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then stir till smooth. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before using. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes, then fill with about a teaspoon of chocolate ganache. Let them cool completely before serving.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies