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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cherry Tart Cookies

 I say this every year, but I LOVE getting the December issue of Cook's Country because it always has the winners of their Christmas cookie contest.  Which means new, and usually quite unique, fare for my holiday baking.  This year was no exception.  The $1,000 Grand Prize went to the maker of these adorable, delicious, nice-and-big filled cookies.  The crust is a soft almond sugar cookie, the filling is cherry preserves - get the best you can find - and on top of it all is a crispy thin vanilla glaze that reminds me of Hostess pies.  But of course these are a million times better.  They were easy peasy to make, and a huge hit with Dessert Club, and, I later heard, the take-home-leftovers husband crowd as well.  Yum yum.  Yum.

Cherry Tart Cookies (print recipe)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
12 T unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup milk, divided
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
1 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup cherry preserves
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt in bowl.

2.  Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and granulated sugar on med-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add 2 T milk, whole egg, and almond extract and beat until incorporated.  Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture in 3 additions and mix until just combined, scraping down bowl as needed.

3.  Lightly beat egg white in bowl.  Working on lightly floured counter, divide dough in half and form each into 4-inch disk.  Roll each disk into 1/4-inch-thick circle.  Using 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds, gathering and rerolling dough as necessary.  Transfer half of rounds to prepared sheets, 1 inch apart.  Place heaping teaspoon of preserves in center of each round.  Top with remaining rounds and crimp with fork.  Brush filled rounds with beaten egg white and cut 1/2-inch X into center of each.

4.  Bake until edges are lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.  Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely, about 1hour.  Whisk confectioners' sugar, remaining 2 T milk, and vanilla in bowl until smooth.  Brush cookies with glaze and let sit for 30 minutes.  Serve.  Makes about 18 large cookies.

Recipe from Sara Cowley of Winamac, IN - 2011 Cook's Country Christmas cookies contest Grand Prize Winner

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