Buttery cookies studded with maraschino cherries and mini chocolate chips and topped with a Hershey’s kiss.
My family is big on Christmas cookies. Growing up we would make so many varieties and give plates of cookies away as gifts to teachers, family friends, and probably strangers as well. My favorite cookie every year was these chocolate cherry cookies.
The original recipe came from a Christmas cookie book published by We Energies, a Wisconsin utility company, in the late 1990’s. I still vividly remember recommendations in the cookbook to use your hands to mix to reduce energy consumption (your hands are nature’s free source of energy after all!). The recipe is pretty close to the original, but I’ve added Hershey’s kisses to make these cookies even more fun and festive.
When I moved to China everything about Christmas felt unfamiliar, so I wanted to bake these cookies to keep some traditions from my childhood alive. I only had a small toaster oven to bake in, and ingredients like powdered sugar, maraschino cherries, and chocolate chips required travel to a small store selling imported ingredients at crazy prices, but the cookies were definitely worth it. Now that I live in Nashville all of these ingredients are easy to come by, but I still bake these every year. I even had a friend that claimed not to like cherries eat several in one sitting.
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How to Make Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Start out by draining the maraschino cherries. I find it easiest to drain most of the bottle over the sink using the lid, and then pour them onto layers of paper towels to fully dry. To cut them into quarters you could use a knife or just cut them using kitchen scissors (my favorite method).
Then start the dough by creaming the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Start mixing again on low so you don’t get powdered sugar everywhere and gradually increase the speed to medium and beat until the sugar is all mixed in.
Then gradually add the flour 1/2 cup at a time while continuing to mix. When the flour is completely incorporated, take the bowl off of the mixer, pour in the chocolate chips and cherries quarters, and mix together with your hands (in the spirit of the original recipe from the utility company). Then shape into balls, using a heaping tablespoonful as your size guide and place on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 14-16 minutes. The cookies will get slightly darker, but not golden brown like chocolate chip cookies.
While the cookies are baking, take the wrappers off of the Hershey’s kisses. As soon as you take the cookies out of the oven, place one kiss in the middle of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Allow to cool before moving the cookies.
Looking for more cookies or bar recipes? Try these gingersnap cookies or salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bars. If you try this recipe for chocolate cherry cookies, leave a comment and review below and let me know how they worked out for you!
Chocolate Cherry Cookies
- 1 lb unsalted butter (softened)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 12 oz mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (or regular size chocolate chips chopped into smaller pieces)
- 12 oz maraschino cherries
- Hershey’s kisses (approximately 48)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Start by draining the maraschino cherries and placing them on paper towels to remove most of the moisture. Then cut them into quarters. I’ve found them easiest to cut using kitchen scissors, but you could also use a knife. Set the cherries aside.
- Add the butter to a large mixing bowl for a stand mixer and beat over medium speed until smooth.
- Turn the mixer off, add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and then start beating on the lowest speed and gradually increase to medium speed to avoid getting powdered sugar everywhere.
- Gradually add the flour about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well until blended.
- Take the bowl off the mixer and add in the chocolate chips and cherries. Mix with your hands (nature’s free source of energy) until the chocolate chips and cherries are incorporated into the dough. The dough will be stiff.
- Take the dough one heaping tablespoonful at a time and shape into a ball. Place onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 14-16 minutes until very light golden brown (these will not get as dark as chocolate chip cookies).
- While baking, unwrap all of your Hershey’s kisses. Then as soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, place the kisses into the middle of the dough, pressing down slightly. Allow to cool before moving to a plate or serving container.
- Repeat for the remaining cookies. The dough can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated, just let it sit out for about 15 minutes before shaping and baking.