Last month I was lucky enough to win the French Glace Cherries giveaway with Ros over at The More Than Occasional Baker. Thanks Ros! A week or so later, I received my Discovery Box and eagerly explored the contents which included a lovely smart red apron, a kitchen scale, a new kitchen timer (which was perfectly timed (ha ha), as I had just broken my old one and I love the fact that the new one is magnetic and sticks to the fridge where I can always find it) and some little pots of glace cherries.
When I entered for the giveaway, I said that I would use my cherry samples to make cherry and almond biscuits using almond butter. And true to my word, this is what I have done. I still have a few cherries left, which I will probably use in a cake of some description…….. I’ll let you know when I have decided (if I can prise them away from my daughter who has now discovered them!).
I bought some Meridian almond butter a few weeks back to make the very same intended cookies, which had been sitting in the larder ever since. I never got round to making them as I didn’t actually have any glace cherries to hand, so winning the giveaway was more than perfectly timed. Sometimes these things happen with such coincidence that I do wonder whether there are other forces at work. Ok……. so it’s only some cherries, but their arrival kicked me into getting on with my cookie plan…….
Needless to say that my original plan for cherry and almond cookies quickly spiralled into something far more exciting…………. why stop at cherry and almond? And I had a bit of a hankering for chocolate. (When don’t I?)
Thoughts quickly turned to adding combinations of cocoa and chocolate chips (definitely the dark variety to compliment the rich chewy sweetness of the cherries). I know almond and chocolate are old favourites to pair with cherries, but old favourites are called that for a reason……….. They work well and we love them………..
Then….. a couple of days before I planned to make them, I had to go to London for a meeting and ended up with an hour to kill before I could pick up a direct train home. My walk back to the station took me past Borough Market, which is renowned for its amazing selection of high quality food produce, both British and international. Unfortunately it was quite late in the day and many of the stalls were closed up, but I did get to have a mooch round Spice Mountain which had the most incredible array (with accompanying aromas) of herbs and spices from across the world.
Time to spend more money…………. One of the things that particularly caught my eye was the bags of vivid, beautiful green Iranian Pistachios – a traditional absolute for any Iranian feast. I love pistachios…… their vibrancy, depth of flavour, versatility and the immense interest they add to any dish – sweet or savoury, but these are way brighter than any pistachios I have used before. As soon as I saw them I knew they had to top my cookies.
I could have been extra resourceful and made the almond butter myself (all you need is a bunch of roasted almonds and a food processor to grind them down to a paste), but on this occasion, I allowed myself the convenience of having it ready made and scooped out of the jar.
The French Glace Cherries were top quality…… Much juicier and more succulent than glace cherries I have used in the past. Sometimes, glace cherries can be a bit hard and dry and that has put me off using them. But these were a surprise reminder that they are an ingredient that should not be overlooked, although it is worth being picky to source a fresh, syrupy, premium quality, traditional product.
The cookies, whether light or dark (with added cocoa) are deliciously chewy….. the dangerous, sticky sort of soft chewy that makes you want to eat more and more just for the pleasure of chewing. Each bite brings a tantalisation of melty pieces of chocolate or sweet, fruity chunks of cherry. A lucky bite gets both, mingling together in perfect harmony with the surrounding soft, nutty almond heaven. The dark cookies hide their presence, but make no mistake, they are secret little jewels of perfection awaiting your delectation.
But which are better? I love the greater visibility of the cherries and chocolate in the lighter version, and the cookie base has a creamy texture with an almost caramel-honey-like flavour about it. The dark cocoa-added version has a more intense chocolatey hit with slight treacle tones. Both have a delicious, nutty pistachio shot from the sprinkling of green heaven on the top…… balanced so as not to overwhelm, but to enhance the flavours beneath. I change my ‘favourite’ back and forth with each and every one, so I guess they must be equally, but differently delicious. Either way, they are definitely worth a try.
Almond, Cherry, Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies (makes about 18 cookies of each)
Ingredients – Dark Cookies
Ingredients – Light Cookies
Method (for each separately)
- Prepare 3 baking trays by lining with baking paper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Weigh and mix together the sugar, cocoa/cornflour and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl, making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
- Add the almond butter, egg, chocolate chips and cherries and stir with a wooden/silicone spoon until completely combined and formed into a thick dough.
- Using your hands, take small pieces of dough and roll into balls about 3 cm in diameter.
- Flatten very slightly and place on the baking trays with room for spreading.
- Scatter the chopped pistachios onto each dough cookie and gently press into the surface.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (swapping the trays in the oven half way through to ensure an even bake). If you want an extra chewy cookie, remove from the oven and leave on the trays to cool. If you prefer a slightly crisper cookie, turn off the oven (and open the door briefly to take the sting out of the heat) and allow the cookies to cool in the oven for a further 15 to 20 minutes as the oven cools.