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Chocolate Chip Cherry Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cherry Shortbread Cookies are melt-in-your mouth tender, absolutely delicious, and super easy to make!

Don’t you just love a good cookie? I do. They’re inevitably the downfall of my post-holiday promise: every year I swear that I’m not touching my KitchenAid until spring. And every year I fail, because cookies. This time, it’s Chocolate Chip Cherry Shortbread Cookies. Of all the cookies in all the world, shortbread always rates in my top 3.

And don’t give me any hard, crunchy shortbread that you find on a supermarket shelf. Those hardtack-looking things hold no appeal whatsoever. I want tender, soft shortbread, the kind that has such a high butter content that your fingers are all shiny after you eat it. That’s the stuff!

Shortbread is simple to make and has very few ingredients. There should never be egg, or any liquid (other than vanilla extract) and definitely no leaveners like baking powder or baking soda. Butter, sugar, flour, salt and vanilla. That’s all she wrote. The one place you have some license for creativity is with mix ins. While not strictly traditional, chocolate or butterscotch chips, dried fruit, etc. bring a lot to the flavor table for those who aren’t purists. My kids love these when I put “stuff” in them.

So let’s make some cookies!

chocolate chip cherry shortbread cookies closeup

Ingredient Notes

  • Butter – Unsalted, and left out to soften. Use good quality butter. The butter to everything-else ratio in shortbread is high. Crummy butter will not go unnoticed.
  • Sugar – Confectioners’ sugar is best for any type of shortbread. Because there are no liquid ingredients, not even eggs, there’s nothing to dissolve granulated sugar and your cookies will feel a bit gritty. You don’t want gritty cookies. Definitely not delicious.
  • Flour – Regular old All-Purpose flour. The proportion of butter to flour is important in shortbread cookies, so you want to make sure that your flour isn’t packed into your measuring cups. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup and sweep across the top to level it out. Don’t dip and sweep or scoop with the measuring cup. The flour compacts and you end up with more than you should.
  • Vanilla extract – Because it tastes good. Real, imitation, homemade, use whatever you’ve got. I just can’t work up the energy to be a snob about this. America’s Test Kitchen did a great article that dives into the world of vanilla extract, and their favorite is an imitation vanilla! You can check out the article here.
  • Mini chocolate chips – The minis will make your life much easier with this recipe. You’re not looking for a chocolate chip cookie. These little chips are an accent to the shortbread cookie, not the whole show. In addition, large chocolate chips make cutout cookies harder to manage. The cookie cutter often doesn’t want to cut through the larger chocolate chips, leaving you with ragged edges. Smaller is better here.
  • Dried cherries – Yes, dried. Not fresh, not canned, not frozen. Dried. Any other type of cherry has too much liquid and will change the texture of your shortbread cookies. Also, cherry juice is really red. And so will be your cookies. Also your hands. And possibly your counter, depending on its material. Chop the dried cherries finely, so that the pieces are about the same size as your miniature chocolate chips.
  • Chocolate – As you can see in the pictures, I decorate my Chocolate Chip Cherry Shortbread Cookies with both white chocolate and semisweet chocolate. This is entirely optional.
  • Coconut oil or vegetable shortening – a bit of either one of these will make your chocolate decoration smoother and shinier. It’s also optional, so use it or don’t as you prefer!

How to Make Chocolate Chip Cherry Shortbread Cookies

  • Make your cookie dough.
    • Put the butter in the stand mixer bowl and beat at medium speed for 5-6 minutes until the butter is pale and smooth. This will even out the temperature of the butter and make it easier to incorporate the confectioners’ sugar.
    • Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until fluffy, another 5 minutes or so. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times.
    • Add the flour, salt, and vanilla extract and beat on low speed until the dough comes together. This will take 2-3 minutes and will likely look terrible in the process. Have faith and keep mixing. It will come together. I know it looks too dry. Just wait for it.
    • Add in the chocolate chips and the chopped dried cherries. Stir on low speed until fully incorporated throughout the dough.
  • Chill dough.
    • Divide the dough in half and press each into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
    • Chill for at least 2 hours. You can hold this dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days if needed.
chocolate chip cherry shortbread dough
  • Roll and cut cookies.
    • Working with one half of the dough at a time, remove dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
    • Preheat the oven to 325F.
    • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
    • Dust the counter with flour and unwrap the cookie dough. You may need to flour your rolling pin as well, in order to prevent the dough from sticking to it.
    • Roll cookie dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. These should be fairly substantial cookies.
chocolate chip cherry shortbread dough with thickness measurement
  • With a three inch heart-shaped cutter, cut out cookies and place on the lined baking sheet, leaving about one inch between cookies.
chocolate chip cherry shortbread heart cutouts raw
  • Bake and cool cookies.
    • Bake cookies for 12 minutes, until very pale golden on the bottom. The top and sides of the cookies should not brown at all.
    • Remove cookies from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely.
  • Decorate with chocolate – Optional
    • Chop semisweet and white chocolate, and melt separately with one teaspoon of coconut oil or vegetable shortening. Microwave in 30-second intervals, and make sure to stir the chocolate between each round.
    • Once your chocolate is melted, spread over one half of each cookie with a butter knife or a small offset spatula.
    • Return cookies to the rack and allow them to sit until the chocolate has set and hardened completely.
chocolate chip cherry shortbread cookies flatlay

If you’re looking for more cookie inspiration, take a look at My Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are amazing!

Chocolate Chip Cherry Shortbread Cookies

Course: Cookies, HolidaysCuisine: American
Servings

24

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

Chocolate Chip Cherry Shortbread Cookies are melt-in-your mouth tender, absolutely delicious, and super easy to make!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (optional)

  • 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped (optional)

  • 2 tsp coconut oil (or vegetable shortening) divided (optional)

Directions

  • Beat butter in a stand mixer until smooth and pale, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Add confectioners’ sugar and beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 5 more minutes.
  • Add flour, vanilla and salt, and mix on low speed to combine, 2-3 minutes.
  • Add in chopped dried cherries and mini chocolate chips and stir on low speed until incorporated.
  • Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Chill for 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • Roll dough out to 1/4″ thickness, and cut into cookies with a 3″ heart-shaped cutter. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat.
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes until pale golden on the bottom. The top of the cookies should not brown.
  • After baking, move cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.
  • If desired, melt each type of chocolate separately, with 1 tsp of coconut oil or vegetable shortening in each type. To melt, microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until fully melted and smooth.
  • Using melted chocolate, frost one half of each cookie with the chocolate and return to cooling rack until the chocolate sets and hardens completely.

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