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I had bought some dried cherries for a certain dish and was looking for a way to use up some of the leftovers.  I combined several ideas in this version of lemony-good shortbread with the sharp tang of dried cherries which had been soaked in cherry liqueur.  Brandy would also be fine for soaking the cherries, but I happened to have some cherry liqueur left from another recipe and this gave me the chance to use a some more of it.

It takes a little planning ahead to make the cookies since the cherries are soaked for 4-5 hours and then the dough is refrigerated for 3-4 hours.  The cookies are well worth it.

LEMON SHORTBREAD WITH DRIED CHERRIES

  • Servings: 28 small cookies
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  • ½ cup dried Montmorency cherries
  • ½ cup cherry liqueur or brandy
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

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Place dried cherries in a half-pint jar and pour the cherry liqueur or brandy over them.  Cover with a lid and allow to soak for 4-5 hours or overnight.

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When ready to use, drain the cherries, reserving the juice for another recipe in the future.

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Place the drained cherries on a paper towel.

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Using the paper towel, blot the cherries.  Chop the cherries coarsely with a knife.  Set aside.

In the large bowl of a mixer, cream butter and powdered sugar.  Beat in lemon peel and lemon extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture until the dry ingredients have been incorporated.
By hand, stir in the brandied cherries.

Divide dough into two portions, shaping each portion into a 7-½  inch long roll.

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Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Unwrap dough and cut each roll crosswise into 14 half- inch slices.  Place the slices on ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until edges are golden brown.

Remove shortbread from baking sheets to racks to cool.

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Yield:  28 small shortbread cookies.

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