Ah yes, it's that time of year....Christmas. Do I even have to tell you why I haven't had the time to blog lately? Those of you who know me, know very well what I've been up to lately. Baking. And lots of it.....mostly Christmas cookies of course. These cookies happen to be my hubby's fav. Chunks of white chocolate (chunks, not bits), carefully chopped maraschino cherries and crunchy macadamia nuts in a soft and chewy almond flavored cookie. mmmm. mmmmm. mmmm.
However, I can't take full credit for the recipe, I was totally inspired by the beloved Paula Deen (Hey y'all, I just LOVE her). Although, I did change her original recipe quite a bit, so I feel ok about calling it my own (even still, I do like to give credit where credit is due). Her original recipe is more like a traditional chocolate chip cookie base using brown sugar, you can find it here. As good as they are, I thought they'd look fantastic and more "Christmasy" if they were a white cookie, allowing the red cherries to show up lending a more cheerful addition to the cookie platter. I only bake them a couple of times of year, if only at Christmas, because macadamia nuts can be so expensive. But really, I wouldn't like them any other way, the flavor and texture are perfect as is and sets them aside from the basic chocolate chip cookie. So without further ado, let's get it goin' awhn y'all.
White Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies
1 C Butter ( no substitutes)
2C White sugar
2 lg Eggs, slightly beaten
½ tsp Vanilla extract
½ tsp Almond extract
3 C Sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
½ C Coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
½ pkg (6 oz) White chocolate chunks (or white chocolate chips, if you must. sigh)
½ C (1- 10oz jar) Chopped Maraschino cherries (whole ones, halved)
First, preheat your oven to 375 F. Next, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Very rarely do I sift dry ingredients for cookies. But in this case, it's a very stiff cookie dough, so I sift it in order to thoroughly combine the ingredients (rather than for the texture). After sifting, set it aside.
Next, roughly chop the white chocolate into chunks. I use almond bark, which is a white chocolate candy coating. It comes in a block of 12 - 2oz squares. You'll need 3 squares (6 oz.). Alternatively, you can use 1/2 of a 12 oz bag of white chocolate chips. (but they wouldn't be "chunk" cookies then, would they? lol). I also use whole marachino cherries, drain them well, then I cut them in half. Then roughly chop the macadamia nuts. (or go crazy and leave them whole) I also always measure my extracts into my eggs, it's just easier that way. (plus I don't forget to add them) Just don't do it too soon and let it sit, else it may start to gel your egg.
Using the paddle attachment, cream your butter and sugar with a stand mixer. You can use an electric mixer, but be careful because after the addition of the flour, this dough does get pretty stiff. You may have to switch to mixing by hand.
Now add in the flour mixture, about 1/2 at a time. Mix it quickly, but thoroughly each time. So just enough to incorporate everything. The dough will be stiff (now's the time you'll think about asking Santa for a stand mixer if you don't have one ;) ) I know in Paula's original recipe she added a couple of tablespoons of milk. But I found that the cookies flattened out too much, so I leave it completely out. They are still moist and chewy provided you bake them correctly.
Now add in the nuts and the chocolate and give it a few whirls to incorporate them. Add in the cherries last and be careful not to over mix. You don't want to break them all up, and you don't want cookies that are too pink.
Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or one lined with parchment paper. I like to use a (1 oz) cookie scoop which is like the perfect size. You'll get exactly 3 dozen out of this batch. Assuming of course, you haven't nibbled on too much cookie dough. ;) Look at that? Can you really resist that? Food porn I tell ya, at it's best.
You'll want to bake them for about 8-10 minutes in a preheated oven 375 F. It sounds high, but trust me, you want them to bake fast so they don't dry out. Be sure not to over bake and also, rotate your pans. What I like to do is only put two pans in at a time. After 8 minutes, I check them and switch the top rack with the middle rack. I set my timer for 2 more minutes. The cookies will spread out only a little, be slightly set, but NOT brown and they will be soft. (they'll be only slightly tanned, not brown, on the bottoms) Take them out and let them cool completely while still on the pan. If you try to move them to a cooling rack, they'll fall apart on you. If I'm doing a lot of baking that day and need to get the next batch in, I'll bake them on parchment paper. That way, I can just slide paper and all onto the counter and continue on with the next batch so I don't have to wait.
Oh man, I'm tellin' ya, heaven. Simply heaven.
The hardest part about this cookie is getting them wrapped up for the freezer before hubby comes sniffing in the kitchen. Ok, I do plan ahead and put a few in his "goodie" box that always sits on the counter. I'm not THAT much of a grinch. LOL
I'll have more Christmas cookies going on and I'll try to post what I can. Meantime, Merry Christmas Baking to you!