2 2/3 cups (345 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
1 cup (240 ml) (150 grams) candied red cherries, chopped
1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg (about 55 grams), at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) pure vanilla extract
Icebox Cookies: In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the chopped candied cherries and toss to coat.
In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and beat, on medium high speed, until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl as needed. Then add the flour mixture and beat just until the batter starts to clump together.
Divide the dough in half (about 470 grams each). Place each half of the dough on a large piece of parchment or wax paper. Smooth and shape the dough into an rectangle that is about 10 inches (25 cm) long. Then wrap the shaped logs in the parchment or wax paper, twists the ends of the paper to seal the logs. Place in the refrigerator to chill until firm (about four hours or up to three days). (The logs can also be frozen for about one month. If freezing, it is best to let the logs stand at room temperature about 15 minutes before slicing.)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) with the rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using a knife, slice the logs into 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick slices. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Store at room temperature for about five days or the baked cookies can be frozen for one month.
Makes about six dozen cookies.
One look at this stack of sweet and buttery Icebox Cookies, dotted with flecks of red candied cherries, makes you think of Christmas. There is no doubt as to why these old fashioned refrigerator cookies have remained a favorite. They taste great plus you can make the dough ahead of time and then simply slice and bake the cookies as needed. What a treat it would be during the holiday season, to give a busy friend a nicely wrapped frozen log of this cookie dough, so they can enjoy freshly baked cookies whenever life dictates the need for something sweet.
I know that some people dislike the taste of candied cherries. If so, you can substitute an equal amount of finely chopped dried fruit or nuts. While I agree these cherries are not ideal for eating out-of-hand, I enjoy their sweet flavor and chewy texture when folded into cake and cookie batters or when used as a decorative garnish. Candied cherries are also called glacé cherries, and they are cherries that have been dipped in a sugar syrup. For these Icebox Cookies the cherries are chopped into small pieces so each cookie will have small flecks of red or green dotting its' entire surface.
The buttery flavor of these cookies means it is important to use a good quality butter. I prefer using unsalted butter as the salt in 'salted' butter can overpower its' sweet flavor and can also mask any odors the butter may have absorbed in storage. Besides butter, vanilla extract is also a strong flavor in these cookies. So when buying vanilla extract make sure that it is labeled "pure". Stay away from the ones labeled "imitation" vanilla extracts as they are made with synthetic vanilla and may leave a bitter aftertaste.