I'm not quite sure what to say about these cookies except maybe two words. Oh. My. I've looked forward to making these since I first set out on this baking adventure of mine. The reason for that is because this recipe requires sour cherry preserves and we just happen to have an Evans Sour Cherry tree in our backyard which gives us a plentiful bounty of delicious cherries at the end of each summer. So these cookies actually had their start a couple of months ago when we spent some time picking the tree clean of fruit...
That's just a very small fraction of what the tree yielded and it took hours to remove all those pits. I learned from the internet that a paperclip bent into an "S" shape is a simple and effective way for removing cherry pits. It really does work. Once the pits were gone I turned some of those luscious cherries into several jars of jam.
And I've been warning the jam-lovers in my house not to eat this last jar because I had other plans for it - Cherry Half Moons. I worried a bit about whether "preserves" and "jam" are actually the same thing since the recipe specifically calls for preserves and I was concerned about the jam possibly running out of the cookies in the heat of the oven. I threw caution to the wind and went ahead with my baking this afternoon and hoped for the best.
The recipe, although not difficult in any way, is quite time-consuming. Slivered almonds are chopped finely and toasted in the oven. A portion of these are mixed into the jam and the rest are saved to decorate the cookie tops. A simple dough is mixed but the secret to its delicate flakiness is that in addition to regular flour it contains a small amount of potato flour. It is lightly flavoured with almond extract and lemon zest.
The dough is rolled and refrigerated to firm it up and then scalloped circles are cut. Each circle is cut into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. A small amount of the jam mixture is spread on the larger half and then the smaller half circle of dough is placed on top. The cookie tops are brushed with an egg wash and finally sprinkled with coarse sugar and toasted almonds. A simple enough process albeit labour-intensive but I could tell that these cookies had big potential for a great outcome.
As it turns out jam worked fine instead of preserves and held together well during baking. I cannot begin to describe the delicate, melt-in-your-mouth texture of these cookies.
Not only do they look beautiful but they taste delicious with the sweet but tart flavour of the jam coming through very nicely. Oh. My. This is definitely a recipe to make again for special occasions.
Next Up: Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies