This is not a galette. Not at all. BUT, it’s a really delicious cookie that I adapted from an old recipe that my mother used to make in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s a retro recipe revamped for 2020. The original used those bright unnaturally-red maraschino cherries of our youth and they were one of my favorite once-a-year treats. That sweet-tart surprise in the center of a round buttery-almond cookie- who wouldn’t love that? I still love maraschino cherries, but now I have a taste for those Italian Luxardo Cherries that are fabulous in cocktails or spooned over vanilla bean ice cream, so I thought why not use those. There’s something else missing though- chocolate. Dark chocolate!
Keeping the cookies round and small enough to be enjoyed in one or two bites, I think is essential for the overall success of this recipe. So, after trying a few methods of incorporating the chocolate and cherry into the center of the cookie, I settled on slicing the cherry in half, inserting a chocolate chip and reassembling the cherry back into it’s original round shape. I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips because the cherries and dough are sweet enough that you don’t need a really sweet chocolate. The methods that did not work as well were, 1) melting the chocolate over a water bath, folding in the chopped cherries, cooling slightly and rolling the chocolate mixture into small balls and 2) melting the chocolate and cooling slightly and wrapping the chocolate around the cherry. Slicing the cherry in half also allows you to ensure that there are no stones left in the center of the fruit (I did find one!).
I made these for a cookie swap at work, we each needed to make 4 dozen cookies and I learned that there are roughly about that many cherries in 1 (14 oz.) jar of Luxardo Cherries. These cookies were a hit. The flavor is a bit surprising because they don’t really look like much, but the combination of almonds, cherry and dark chocolate is a classic for a reason. It’s just really good.
Chocolate Cherry Butter Balls
Makes 2 dozen (doubles easily!)
24 Luxardo Original Maraschino Cherries, drained on paper towels
24 Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup + 1 T unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar + more for dusting
1 cup ground almonds
2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Slice each cherry in the center, but not necessarily all the way through and stuff with a chocolate chip. Reshape the cherry around the chip back into a closed sphere.
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees with rack in center. Cream 1/2 cup sugar and butter. Add vanilla and mix in ground almonds and flour a 1/2 cup at a time until incorporated into a smooth soft dough.
Measure dough using a scoop into your palm, place prepared cherry in the center and roll the dough around the cherry to position it in the center of the dough.
Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart from one another.
Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes (mine were perfect at 17).
Let cool for a few minutes on a baking rack on the parchment and then dust with confectioners sugar and allow to cool completely.