Pretty Cookies Flavored with Cherries!

Marashino cherries have a use beyond your cocktail glass -- chop them up to make these adorable red cookies that also get a dip in white chocolate and a roll through red-and-white sprinkles.

Want a gorgeous pink treat for Valentine's Day or a festive edition to a Christmas cookie plate or just a new favorite cookie for everyday? These white chocolate cherry shortbread cookies are a perfect choice. First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Then spread a half a cup of maraschino cherries that you finally chopped onto sheets of paper towels to drain them of all their liquid so the cookie dough won't be too wet. Now, in a large mixing bowl with 2-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, add a half a cup of sugar and combine these completely. Then add 1 cup of cold butter that you've cut into small pieces. Cut the butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add in the drained cherries and 2/3 of a cup of finely chopped white chocolate. That's about 4 ounces. Use real white chocolate made with cocoa butter. Now add half a teaspoon of almond extract and stir it all together. If you wanna amp up the pink color, add 2 drops of red food coloring. Knead this dough until it forms a smooth ball. Now the fun part- roll the dough into 3 quarter-inch balls. You should have about 60. Place the balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets then dip the bottom of a drinking glass in sugar and flatten the balls to 1-1/2 inch rounds. Dip the glass in the sugar between each cookie since much of the sugar will stick to the cookie top. Bake the cookies in batches for 10 to 12 minutes or until the centers are set. Let the cookies cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Now it's time to decorate the cookies. Melt 8 more ounces of chopped white chocolate together with 2 teaspoons of shortening into a small saucepan over low heat. Dip half of each cookie in the chocolate allowing the excess to drip off. Then roll the dipped edge in red edible glitter or white nonpareils as you like. Let the cookies cool on waxed paper until the chocolate sets completely. These cookies keep well which makes them great for gifts or a cookie exchange. Just layer them between waxed paper and keep them in an air-tight container for up to 3 days or you can even freeze them for up to 3 months.