MAKES 4½ TO 5 DOZEN
Dried cherries soaked in almond liqueur, and spooned between my mother's cookie dough, produced the most delicious of her dozens of Christmas cookies. I loved them so much that I could not wait for Christmas. When the need to bite into one of these came on strong, I quietly entered the back room where these cookies were stored in large gleaming tin cans and helped myself.
These are good keepers and can be made 2 weeks ahead. Dried cherries are available in gourmet food shops. Sour cream has been substituted for Italian heavy cream, panna doppia, which has a thicker consistency.
6 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) dried tart cherries
1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur
Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
With an electric mixer, cream the butter or margarine, sugar, and extract until light colored. Add the lemon zest and sour cream, and beat until well blended. Add the flour mixture a little at a time, mixing well until a ball of dough is formed. (You may need to finish mixing by hand since this is a heavy dough.) Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 2 hours.
In a bowl, marinate the cherries in the liqueur for at least 30 minutes. In a food processor, blender, or by hand, grind the cherries to a paste and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease 4 cookie sheets.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Working with one piece at a time on a floured board, roll out to an 18-inch circle. Use a 3-inch round or fluted cookie cutter to make circles. Use a 1-inch round cookie cutter to cut out a hole in the center of half the circles.
Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each whole circle, spreading it slightly. Top each with a circle with the hole. Seal by pressing all around the cookie with a fork. Transfer to a cookie sheet.
Repeat with remaining pieces of dough and re-roll the scraps to make more cookies.
Bake cookies for 20 minutes or until delicately browned. Remove the cookies to cooling racks, then store in airtight containers or freeze for up to 2 months.
Note: These are great for Valentine's Day too; use heart-shaped cutters.
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