In a large bowl combine butter and cream cheese. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill about 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.Advertisement
For filling, in a small bowl stir together preserves, dried cherries, and, if desired, brandy.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with foil; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time until about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3-inch fluted or plain round cookie cutter, cut out dough. Place circles on the prepared cookie sheets. Place a scant 1 teaspoon of the filling in center of each circle. Lightly brush edges of circles with water. Fold each circle in half; gently press edges to seal.
Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until edges are firm. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.
In a heavy small saucepan combine chocolate and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Spoon chocolate mixture into a heavy resealable plastic bag. Snip a small corner off bag; drizzle chocolate over cookies. Sprinkle with almonds. If desired, drizzle cookies again with chocolate. Let stand until chocolate sets.
Layer cookies between pieces of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze undecorated cookies for up to 3 months; thaw cookies, drizzle with chocolate, sprinkle with almonds, and let stand.