Santa’s Whiskers

I’ve had this cookie recipe for Santa’s Whiskers for a very long while and thought it was about time to try them.  The main reason I kept skipping over the recipe is that it calls for candied cherries, and I’m not really a fan.  Candied cherries call up memories of fruit cakes that people pawn off on other people like hot potatoes.

The reviewers’ comments on the epicurious website laid my fears to rest.  Several people said that they, too, weren’t fans of candied cherries and that the cherries were a surprisingly delicious and chewy addition.  They were right!

Essentially, this is a buttery shortbread cookie studded with candied cherries and pecans.  You form a log and then roll it in shredded coconut which forms the “whiskers” around the edge of the cookie.  It is particularly festive looking and would look great on a Christmas cookie tray.

So, if you, too, aren’t a candied cherry fan, don’t be put off by it—otherwise, you will miss out on a cookie that is as tasty as it is pretty.  Happy Christmas cookie baking!

One year ago:  Chewy Coconut Cookies

Santa’s Whiskers

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbl. whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or rum extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 ounces red candied cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 3 ounces green candied cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans

Directions

Arrange two approximately 12- by 12-inch square pieces of wax paper on a work surface and spread half the flaked coconut in the middle of each.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the milk and vanilla or rum extract and beat until fully incorporated.  With the mixer on low, add the flour in 3 batches, followed by the red and green cherries and the pecans, and stir until just combined, about 2 minutes.

Divide the dough in half and form each half into a 10-inch-long log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Transfer each log to a sheet of wax paper and roll to coat them in the coconut.

Once the logs are completely covered in coconut, roll the wax paper around each log, cover in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and a second rack in the lower third then preheat to 375° F.

Slice each log crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick cookies and arrange on baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between cookies.

Bake, switching the baking sheets between the upper and lower racks about halfway through baking, until light golden brown, about 12 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Continue baking cookies on cooled baking sheets.  DO AHEAD:  The cookies can be baked ahead and stored, in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.

Fran’s Notes

I used vanilla extract—but now that I’ve tasted the cookie I think that almond extract would go really well.

Source:   A recipe from Bon Appétit

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