Brandy Cherry Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
Taste Tip: This dough must be prepared in advance. Five-spice powder is a blend of equal parts cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns and is available in the spice aisles of most supermarkets. If cherries are large, chop them. From a recipe in Country Home magazine.
• 1 cup dried cherries
• 1/2 cup brandy
• 2 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for dough, if necessary
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar, divided
• 1 egg
• 1 egg yolk
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine dried cherries and brandy. When brandy starts to simmer, remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving both cherries and liquid.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and five-spice powder, and reserve.
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup sugar and beat until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Add egg, egg yolk and 2 teaspoons of the reserved brandy liquid (discard remaining liquid), and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Do not overmix (if dough is sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time; you need to be able to roll dough into balls in your hands). Stir in drained cherries. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar into a shallow bowl. Roll dough balls in remaining 1/4 cup sugar to coat. Place dough 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned and set on the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
2016 Finalist: Kathleen Sonsteng of Laporte, Minnesota