Christmas Maraschino Cherry Shortbread Cookies

Maraschino cherry shortbread cookies are a delightful treat for the holidays. They’re buttery, sweet, and have a lovely cherry flavor that’s sure to please. Here’s a simple recipe you can follow to make these festive cookies.

Ingredients

For the Cookies:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but adds great flavor)
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped (plus extra for topping if desired)
  • Red or green food coloring (optional, for a festive look)
  • Granulated sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

For the Glaze (Optional):

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Instructions

Making the Dough:

  1. Prep the Cherries: Drain the maraschino cherries and chop them into smaller pieces. If you’re using them for decoration, slice a few in half and set aside.
  2. Cream the Butter and Sugar: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and powdered sugar until it’s fluffy and light in color.
  3. Add Flavorings: Mix in the vanilla extract and almond extract, if using.
  4. Combine the Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  5. Add Dry Ingredients to Wet: Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating just until combined.
  6. Add Cherries: Fold in the chopped maraschino cherries. If you want to tint your dough, add a few drops of food coloring at this point and mix until you reach the desired color.
  7. Chill the Dough: Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or until firm enough to handle.

Baking the Cookies:

  1. Preheat Oven: When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Prepare Baking Sheets: Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Shape Cookies: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut into desired shapes and place on the prepared baking sheets. If the dough becomes too soft to handle, place it back in the fridge for a few minutes.
  4. Add Cherry and Sugar (Optional): Press a half maraschino cherry into the center of each cookie and sprinkle with granulated sugar if desired.
  5. Bake: Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to turn golden. Don’t overbake, as shortbread should remain pale.
  6. Cool: Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Glazing (Optional):

  1. Mix the Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cherry juice or milk, and extract until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add more liquid a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
  2. Drizzle or Dip: Once the cookies are completely cool, you can drizzle them with the glaze or dip the tops of the cookies into it.
  3. Let Set: Place the glazed cookies back on the wire rack to let the glaze set before serving.

These cookies are perfect for sharing with family and friends, and they make a great addition to any holiday cookie platter. Enjoy your baking!

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