Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! 🙂 I hope your day is filled with lots of love, laughter and those you hold near and dear. I’ll be celebrating this weekend with my favorite guy and lots of good food and local adventures – but today I got to celebrate by participating in a cookie contest at work! Nothing better than having a buffet of cookies at your disposal in the middle stretch of a work day (I’ll take two of everything, please). The annual cookie contest at work is always a fun time – lots of great bakers bringing in their tastiest and most unique recipe creations. I like to think “outside of the box” when I participate in these things – mainly because it’s nice to “mix it up” and not have five of the same type of baked item. This year’s theme was Valentine’s Day and Cookies! Truthfully, I don’t bake cookies all that often. I guess it’s because they are not typically a “go-to” dessert for me – I can be SUPER picky when it comes to finding a cookie I actually enjoy. I can (maybe) list three specific cookie recipes that I love, and one of those is BUTTER COOKIES!! SO good! So, I got the inspiration to combine butter cookie mix with chocolate and cherries to stick with the Valentine’s Day theme! A bit of a risk considering the recipe was very much “trial and error” and whatever happened I knew I was bringing the next day. And (thankfully) it all worked out! I received a lot of great compliments, and I had to prevent myself from eating them all before the judging lol (I definitely snuck one in with breakfast…whoops). If you’re looking for a unique cookie with a love theme, this recipe is for you! Enjoy! 🙂
Makes Close to 3 Dozen (I made 32 Cookies)
Recipe by © Alysha Melnyk 2018
*This recipe requires the butter to be room temperature (I suggest leaving out all day while at work) and for the dough to freeze 1 hour before baking*
Hand or Stand Mixer (I used a stand mixer with paddle attachment)
*Optional: Tart Tamper (for pressing cookies)
Two Sheet Pans
Oven, Preheated to 325℉
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Aluminum-Free Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt (*Or salt of choice)
2 Sticks (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Large Egg Yolk
1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Pure Almond Extract
1 Cup Dried Sour Cherries (*Or dried cherries of choice – I found mine in the bulk section of my local Whole Foods)
1 Cup Chocolate Chips or Pieces of Choice
Optional for Sprinkling: Cane Sugar and Sea Salt
- Using the stand or hand mixer, beat softened butter and sugar until well-combined (it’ll be light and fluffy and color). ***Use cake spatula to scrape down sides of mixing bowl to ensure even mixing throughout this entire process.
- Next, beat in egg yolk until well combined. ***Tip: Save the egg white to eat with breakfast the next day or fry it up for your dog as a healthy treat.
- After that, add in all-purpose flour and mix until well -combined.
- Then add in baking powder and salt (mixing until well-combined), followed by vanilla and almond extracts (mixing until well-combined).
- Then, using cake spatula, incorporate dried cherries and chocolate chips throughout. ***The mix will appear crumbly – that is ok! That is how great butter cookies are made. You’ll notice if you reach your hand in and squeeze some of the dough it’ll bind together.
- The next part is a tad tricky (so brace yourself – you can do this!). Lay out a piece of parchment paper (mine was about 9″ by 13″, and start spoon the dough in parts onto the paper. I did about 1/3 of the bowl at a time, and I used my hands to work the dough into a sort of log (channel those past days of PlayDough haha!). It doesn’t have to be perfect and the dough will be crumbly, so do the best you can.
- Once you have a solid looking dough log (mine was about 1 foot long and 3 inches wide), wrap the parchment paper around the log (tucking the ends in) and then wrap the ENTIRE thing in plastic wrap.
- Stick this in the freezer for one hour. ***The reason this dough needs frozen is the re-solidify the butter before baking – otherwise, your cookies will spread out versus being small, dense and crunchy.
- After freezing, preheat the oven to 325℉.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle a little cane sugar on a plate (if using) to roll cookie edges in.
- Next, unwrap frozen dough log on clean work surface.
- Using a sharp knife, cut hunks of cookie dough off and form into golf ball sized rounds.
- Using hands (or a tart tamper) press on dough until it’s around 1/2 inch thick. Try to press in any cracks/pieces of chocolate or cherry trying to fall out. The nature of these cookies is *crumbly*, but this helps.
- Dip edges in sugar (if using).
- Place on parchment, and repeat until entire dough log is used (cookies should be about 1 inch apart for baking).
- Before baking, sprinkle lightly with some additional cane sugar and some sea salt (if desired).
- Bake for 25-30 minutes (keep an eye on the ones on the lower rack, because those will brown first). Look for the bottoms to be light brown and tops to be lightly golden.
- After baking, let cookies rest on sheet pans (about 10 minutes) than transfer to cooling rack and cool for around an hour.
- You can try one of these cookies right out of the oven, but (in my opinion) butter cookies are far superior after cooling when the butter re-solidifies after baking and all the flavors meld together.
- Enjoy! 🙂
*Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.