I know, I know. It's only three days into 2009, three days into your South Beach/Flat-belly/French-Women-Don't-Get-Fat diet, and I have the nerve to post a cookie recipe! I'm sorry. I just had the urge to bake.
Part of my inspiration arrived as a result of some much needed cleaning that I started last night. Yes, it was another wild Friday evening at the Hession household. On New Years Day, I very diligently sat down and composed a list of to-dos that I had been putting off, a large percentage of which started with the words "Clean out." The collection of items that I came up with should keep me busy well into the days of triple-digit temperatures. Then it will probably be time to start all over again. Oh joy.
Not really in the mood to tackle a mountain like the garage first, I opted for one of the smaller jobs on my list, the pantry. I usually reorganize the pantry a few times each year. Well, I don't really reorganize. I just put items back in the spots that I assigned to them the last time that I organized the pantry. Gee, I don't how so many items can become misplaced in such a short period of time (ahem, Eric!)
I also took this time to take inventory of my ingredients and find out what bits and pieces I had leftover from my holiday baking extravaganza. In addition to some hardened crystallized ginger and a leaking jar of the world's stickiest chestnut honey, I had small amounts of dried tart cherries, sliced almonds, and both bittersweet and milk chocolate chips. Time to make cookies!
There must be thousands of variations of chocolate chip cookies floating around the Internet. And why not? The basic formula for the cookie is both easy and versatile. I love to experiment with new twists on the Tollhouse classic, usually letting whatever ingredients I have leftover in the pantry lead the way. One thing that makes this version unique is that the dried cherries are plumped up by steeping them in Kirsch, or cherry liqueur, prior to adding them to the dough. It also adds a bit of a kick--that stuff is strong! Be sure to serve these sweet treats with an ice-cold glass of milk. Here are my extra tips for making these fully-loaded cookies:
- If you want to make these cookies a bit more kid-friendly and eliminate the liqueur, then replace the Kirsch with cherry, cranberry, or even orange juice.
- Dried cranberries can be used instead of the dried cranberries. Coarsely chopped pecans, walnuts, or macadamia nuts can replace the almonds.
- The baked cookies can be stored at room temperature, tightly covered, for up to three days. The cookie dough can be made one day in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered.
- Instead of using milk chocolate or bittersweet chocolate chips, feel free to use other flavors, such as white or semisweet chocolate chips.
Double Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies
Makes about 28 cookies
1 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup Kirsch (cherry liqueur)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line 2 baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the cherries and Kirsch and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the cherries soak for 15 minutes; drain and discard any excess liquid.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well combined.
On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Mix in the cherries, both chocolate chips, and the almonds. Using a small ice cream scoop or a large spoon, scoop 2 tablespoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until they are lightly golden. Rotate the sheets halfway through the baking process. Let the cookies cool on the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.