Christmas Stuff + Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookie Recipe

We've started to get into a number of our family Christmas traditions! At the top of the list? Baking the *ONLY* Christmas cookies we absolutely must have every year:

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
48 undrained maraschino cherries
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

In a mixing bowl combine flour and cocoa; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter or margarine with an electric mixer on medium to high speed about 30 seconds or until softened. Add sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat until well combined. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Gradually beat in the flour mixture.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place on ungreased baking sheet. Press down center of each ball with thumb. Drain maraschino cherries, reserving juice. Place a cherry in the center of each cookie. In a small saucepan combine the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk; heat until chocolate is melted. Stir in 4 teaspoons of the reserved cherry juice.

Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the frosting over each cherry on unbaked cookie, spreading to cover cherry. (Frosting may be thinned with additional cherry juice, if necessary.)

Bake in 350°F oven about 10 minutes or until done. Remove to wire rack; cool. Cover and store at room temperature. Makes 48 cookies.

(Susie's note: I always double the recipe & tear the cherries in half to do more cookies. They're labor-intensive, but sooooo worth it!!!)

We had Annelise's "Special Buddies" Christmas gathering at school last Thursday, and her bud LOVES to "cheese" for the camera. (Yep - he's one of us! ;-))

On Saturday, we went to the Brookwood Community Christmas pageant - nothing fills my heart with the true spirit of Christmas like watching these precious special needs adults get to perform & shine, giving glory to God!!! (Brookwood is a God-centered educational, residential, and entrepreneurial community for special needs adults with functional disabilities, and every year, their citizens put on the most precious, heartfelt Christmas show. It is IMPOSSIBLE not to be touched by God there! ♥)

Still on the horizon: gingerbread houses, seeing Santa, Christmas cards (I debate doing them every year until the last second; maybe this will be a digital-only year, since we haven't moved within town, yet?) We'll have to see about "Journey to Bethlehem" this year (tournament football through next Sunday may prohibit) and I'm excited for Will's first Christmas choir concert a week from Monday!


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