Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February 14th Baking: Cherry Chocolate Hugs

Valentine's has never been a big deal for my wife and I. There has never been any pressure to do, or more importantly buy, anything. However, during my daily skim of my Facebook newsfeed, I saw an intriguing post from one of my friends. Before we confirm the obvious fact that this post is indeed the recipe for today, I must tell you about my friend! She's a fantastic cook and baker (not to mention super mom and teacher) but as far as I know, does not have a blog of any sort. Instead, she links the recipes she has made with a small comment about them, unlike us verbose bloggers. Her comment for this recipe?

What's Baking? A V-day treat for my sweetie.

Aww!! So thanks to Facebook friend inspiration, this year for February 14th day, I was in the kitchen battling it out with my mixer. As usual, with baking, I didn't stray from the recipe.

In other news, one of my students made one of the recipes I wrote about! She said they turned out not so good though maybe I'm not such a good teacher after all. I brought these in for the teachers because it is Teacher Appreciation week, which so far means sweets at recess. Naturally I thought it would be a good idea to add on to the amount of sugar we were all ingesting. I ended up having enough extras to bring to my student council meeting which did not please my baking nemesis. Long story short: for a bake sale, we both made red velvet cupcakes and there was a debate as to who made the better cupcake. Being the teacher, I will admit here on my blog that Eun Ji Cho is the better baker! Maybe the best ever?

I'll bet that a master baker would be able to look at the ingredients and realize that this cookie has more of a shortbread/sugar texture. For some reason, I imagined some kind of cross between a fluffy macaron and a something else amazing so I think I was a bit disappointed. However, if you know what you're getting into then it should be an excellent treat.

Cherry Chocolate Hugs, adapted from The Curvy Carrot's Cherry Chocolate Kisses

1 cup unsalted butter, softened, but still cool (Being the terrible baker I am, I did not know what this meant)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons maraschino cherry “juice”
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling the cookies
36 milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped (I substituted Hershey's Hugs instead, because I thought we would look prettier. I'm not sure if they do.)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. I must admit that I did not, and still do not, know what a paddle attachment is. My KitchenAid Mixer was not being cooperative with the mixing but I think it was because my butter was not soft enough. There was too much stickage and I was constantly scraping the mixer. Make sure you soften that butter.
3. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting and slowly add the powdered sugar and salt.
4. Add the cherry juice and the almond extract until combined.
5. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. I think around this part I ditched the mixer and just hand mixed the rest of the dough. 
6. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the cherries.
7. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, and place the balls on a baking sheet, approximately 2 inches apart.
8.  Using your thumb, gently press each cookie in its center until the cookie is about 1/2-inch thick.
9.  Sprinkle each cookie with a little granulated sugar.
10.  Bake the cookies until the bottoms are lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
11. Once removed from the oven, immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie’s center. They are going to melt, so try not to move them very quickly otherwise they will topple over! Or worse:
A cookie's escape attempt ended poorly.
12.  Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wondering what my wife thought about her surprise baked treats? Well, considering her love for cherry cake and her love for chocolate, I'd say it was a success! Happy February 14th, everyone!

so i'll watch your life in pictures