The triple threat: Sour cherry, mellow almond and flaky pastry.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Taste Tip: This dough must be prepared in advance.
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup cherry juice (preferably the more sour Montmorency type of cherry juice)
¾ cup minced dried tart cherries
½ cup grated almond paste
2 cups flour, frozen, plus extra for rolling dough
2 rounded tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) cold butter, diced
2 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into ½ -inch pieces
6 to 7 tablespoons ice water
1 egg, beaten
Decorative sugar or granulated sugar, for decoration
To prepare filling:
In a small saucepan over high heat, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in cherry juice and bring to a boil. Cook until thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, transfer filling to a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature. Fold in cherries and almond paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cold, at least 1 hour.
To prepare dough:
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine flour, sugar and salt, and pulse until combined. Add butter and cream cheese, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until dough starts to form marble-size clumps. Press dough into 2 discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To assemble cookies:
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with half the dough at a time, remove dough from refrigerator and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough to 1/16-inch thickness (dough will be quite elastic). Using a knife or a cookie cutter, cut out 2½-inch squares or circles and place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, gathering up scraps, re-rolling and cutting until all dough is used.
Drop 1 teaspoon filling in center of each square. Brush edges of cookies with beaten egg, carefully fold dough over filling to form a triangle and press edges to seal (cookies may be refrigerated at this point until ready to bake). Brush tops of cookies with beaten egg and sprinkle with decorative sugar or granulated sugar.
Bake until light golden brown, 17 to 19 minutes. Remove from oven, cool 2 minutes and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
2012 Finalist: Lance Swanson of North Branch, Minnesota