Christmas Maraschino Cherry Shortbread Cookies

The holiday season is a perfect time to bake, share, and enjoy festive treats like Christmas Maraschino Cherry Shortbread Cookies. These cookies are a delightful blend of rich buttery flavors, punctuated with the vibrant taste and color of maraschino cherries and the sweet allure of chocolate chips. Not only do they look festive with their specks of red and dots of chocolate, but they also offer a wonderful texture that melds a shortbread’s classic crumbly softness with the unique additions. Here’s how to master these cookies with some tips on choosing ingredients and making variations to suit your holiday treat preferences.

Choosing the Right Ingredients

Butter: 1 cup unsalted butter, which should be at room temperature to ensure it creams well with the sugar, giving you a light and fluffy base.

Powdered Sugar: 1/2 cup, This gives the cookies a delicate sweetness and helps achieve the tender texture characteristic of shortbread.

Vanilla Extract: 1/2 tablespoon,  A splash of vanilla enhances the flavors of the butter and sugar, adding a warm, aromatic depth.

All-Purpose Flour: 2 cups, The structure of the cookie, all-purpose flour works best for its reliable results.

Maraschino Cherries: 3/4 cup, Opt for well-drained, chopped maraschino cherries to avoid adding excess moisture to the dough. You can also use dried maraschino cherries for a more concentrated flavor and less moisture.

Chocolate Chips: 2/3 cup, These add a lovely contrast in texture and flavor to the cookies. Choose quality chocolate for the best taste.

Salt: 1/2 teaspoon

Preparation Overview

Mix Dry Ingredients: Start by combining the flour and salt in a bowl. This mixture will later be incorporated into the creamed butter and sugar.

Creaming Butter and Sugar: Beat the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy before mixing in the vanilla extract. This process is crucial as it introduces air into the dough, making for a lighter cookie.

Combining Ingredients: Gradually add the dry ingredients to your butter mixture, mixing until the dough begins to form clumps. This indicates that the dough has the right texture for forming cookies.

Adding Extras: Fold in the chocolate chips and cherries last to ensure they are evenly distributed without overworking the dough.

Forming and Chilling the Dough: Shape the dough into a log and wrap it tightly. Chill in the refrigerator to firm up, which makes slicing easier and helps the cookies maintain their shape when baked.

Baking: Slice the chilled dough and arrange the cookies on a lined baking sheet. Bake until they are just beginning to turn golden, ensuring they retain their characteristic softness.

Baking Tips

Chilling Is Key: Chilling the dough not only makes it easier to handle but also improves the texture of the cookies.

Slicing: If the dough crumbles while slicing, simply press it back together. Shortbread dough is forgiving and can be easily reshaped.

Spacing on Baking Sheet: Allow enough space between each cookie on the baking sheet as they will spread slightly.

Variations and Substitutions

Flavor Add-Ins: Consider adding almond extract instead of vanilla for a nutty flavor, or dip half the baked cookie in melted chocolate for an extra festive touch.

Nut-Free: Replace the chocolate chips with dried fruit like cranberries for a nut-free version that still offers a burst of sweetness and color.

Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free flour blend if you need to accommodate dietary restrictions without compromising the texture.

These Christmas Maraschino Cherry Shortbread Cookies are not just a treat for the palate but also a feast for the eyes, making them a wonderful addition to any holiday table. With their festive appearance and delicious taste, they’re sure to be a hit with family and friends.

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