The longer you stick around here, the more you’ll realize that I have a rather abnormal, year-round love affair with the holiday season. Meaning, I go nutty for all that lies between October 1st and January 1st. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest to see Halloween candy in the grocery store in August, or Christmas decorations up in October. That’s the kid in me, getting stars in my eyes just thinking about pumpkin desserts and sweaters and tinsel and colored lights and stockings and pretty music. I’m giving myself goosebumps here.

img_31181

Once New Year’s Day is over, the annual post-holiday melancholy sets in, and suddenly – shoot, I have to wait almost a whole year before The Holiday Police will give me permission to get excited about Christmas again. And if I show my excitement too early, I can expect acidic glares, or discourses on the unpardonable ingratitude of allowing anything Christmas-y to raise its head even a day before Thanksgiving. I know. I’ve heard it all. So okay, I can keep my Bing Crosby off and respect your views.

img_3104

So. Now that I’ve offended half of you (and assuming the other half is still reading), you can understand why my fancy was captured by these cookies. These are Christmas cookies in my brain. Look at them! They’re pretty. They’re red and white. And snowy . . . ish, sort of.

And the best part is, they don’t have to be Christmas cookies; they can pretend to be July cookies. They don’t scream Christmas, so everyone else can enjoy them too, while I secretly delight in my festivity.

img_3127

Cherry Almond Chews

from The Taste of Home Baking Book

Ingredients:

1 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2-1/2 cups flaked coconut

3/4 cup chopped almonds or pecans (optional)

1 jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extract. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in coconut and nuts.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto lightly greased baking sheets. Place a cherry half in the center of each. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-13 minutes or until barely browned on the edges. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool. Store in an air-tight container for up to 10 days, or in the freezer for six weeks.

***High altitude adjustment: Adjust oven temperature about 20 degrees higher, and decrease bake time slightly.