These have to be my favorite cookies so far. They're easy to make and taste so complex. Also you can make many logs ahead of time and pop a batch in the oven for unexpected guest.
Dried Cherry and Almond Cookies w/ Vanilla Icing
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried tart cherries (see Cook's Note)
1/2 cup slivered, blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped (see Cook's Note)
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons water, plus extra, as needed
For the Cookies:
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in the egg. Add the flour and beat on the lowest speed until just blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dried cherries and almonds.
Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a log, about 12-inches long and 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Dough can be made up to 3 days in advance).
Arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the log crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Transfer the dough slices to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1-inch apart. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges and puffed, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before icing, about 30 minutes.
For the Icing:
Put the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the vanilla extract and water, adding more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture becomes a drizzling consistency. (Makes about 2/3 cups icing, enough to ice both variations.)
Put the cooled cookies on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Using a spoon or a fork, drizzle the cookies with the icing, allowing any excess icing to drip onto the baking sheet. Allow the icing to set before serving, about 1 hour.
Cook's Note: To toast the almonds, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 6 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using.
Cook's Note Alternative: Replace the dried cherries with 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots and add 2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts. Also, use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and omit the almond extract.