It all started a few months ago, when I soaked some raisins in orange liqueur. I watched them plump up, and when I tried one it was chewy and had the faint scent of orange blossoms. It tasted like Cointreau, but it wasn’t overwhelming. And then I baked with them, and they added a nice little surprise to a pineapple upside down cake. They were perfect.
And then I kept adding rum and coffee liqueur in my baking projects and I thought, I should do this more often, adding little quantities of alcohol in desserts. It gives everything such a sophisticated taste. And I should keep soaking dried fruit in alcohol.
And so it began.
But here’s the thing about soaking dried fruit in alcohol: pretty soon you’ll want to start experimenting with different combinations and before you know it, you’ve made dozens of cookies, so many that your oven can’t keep up and it actually starts malfunctioning, and you get so obsessed with the dried fruit soaked in alcohol concept that you think about it nonstop on vacation, day in day out, and you even give your unsuspecting little sister bites of cherries soaked brandy, wanting to see how it would taste to other people aside from you because you’ve been snacking on it nonstop too, and she spits it out angrily, demanding that you give her bites of white chocolate instead, and did I mention that little sister is blind and had no idea that the cherry you were giving her was soaked (dripping!) in brandy, but you just laugh it off and then think of more ways you can use dried cherries soaked in brandy.
What I mean is:
Boozy cherries = latest obsession.
Adding brandy to prim and proper Martha Stewart cookies = fantastic idea.
I may not always have great results when following Martha’s cookie recipes but lately I’ve been getting more hits than misses. This time, too, I had a really good feeling about the changes I made. And I was right – adding an extra egg resulted in a thicker, cakier cookie. And adding a splash of brandy turned everything up a notch.
I’ve made a couple of different batches of these cookies. I tried using raisins and cranberries instead of cherries, and I tried adding white chocolate chips in addition to the milk chocolate chunks (making them triple chocolate cookies). They were good, too, but my first batch – recipe below – was my favorite. The cookie base with unsweetened cocoa was a nice backdrop for the sour cherries and sweet milk chocolate chunks. The dough will be fairly wet, so make sure to chill it first before baking. You’ll end up with dense, brownie-like cookies that friends and family members will be fighting over for. And no, it’s not because they’re drunk on brandy. That’s only me. I mean my sister.
Double Chocolate Cookies with Boozy Cherries
(adapted from Martha Stewart’s Dark Chocolate Cookies with Sour Cherries)
1 1/2 cups dried cherries
1 cup brandy + 2 tablespoons
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (I used good old Hershey’s)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used the Pound Plus bars from Trader Joe’s)
Soak the cherries in 1 cup brandy for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a big mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy (you can use an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or just manually with a fork and a wooden spoon). Add eggs, vanilla extract, and remaining two tablespoons of brandy; mix together until well combined. Add the dry ingredients, and mix together until just combined. Do not overbeat or overmix. With a wooden spoon, fold in chocolate and cherries.
Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Form 2-inch balls of dough. You’ll end up with about 36 cookies. Place balls on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart. Bake until slightly puffed and cracked, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, up to 3 days.
Do you have a favorite dessert with liqueur?
And speaking of booze, I used a random number generator to determine the the winner of the Boston Wine Expo Tickets and Filipino Chocolates Giveaway and it is … ASHLEY!!
Congratulations! I’ll be contacting you via email to get your mailing address. See you at the Boston Wine Expo! Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway.