Bob’s Red Mill’s United States of Cookies: D.C. Cherry Chocolate Stars

Washington, D.C.’s cookie is a star cutout with tart cherry bits and white chocolate stripes.

Recipe source:

Washington D.C.’s cookie focuses on cherries to evoke the cherry trees given by the Japanese. Cherry blossoms are beautiful and smell lovely, and cherries are delicious. Every summer when they’re in season enough to be $1.99 a pound, I basically eat sweet black cherries until I’m sick of them (or sometimes literally sick).

The cookies also have walnuts (a northern nut) and pecans (a southern nut) and drizzled with white chocolate to represent the marble monuments. I went with a star-shaped cookie cutter for the stars on our national flag.

The recipe calls for maraschino cherries, but I noted that at the end there’s a variation for soaking dried cherries in brandy instead. Uh, yes, that does sound better. So I did that overnight. I was going to use Kirsch or my Sweet and Sour Cherry tincture but they were already full of cherry flavors and I wasn’t sure if that would be overdoing it. So brandy it was.

All these recipes call for “unsweetened, tart cherries” but I’m only ever able to find sweetened tart cherries.

I drained the cherries and reserved two tablespoons of the brandy for color, which didn’t work too well, see later on.

The gang’s all here.

My husband doesn’t like nuts in baked goods. He’ll happily eat them on their own, but he says there shouldn’t be random hard things in a soft thing (chocolate chips apparently don’t count). It reminds him of when he was a child and lost a tooth in a mouthful of mashed potatoes. I love nuts in (almost) anything. So when they said “finely chopped” I got out my mini food processor and made essentially nut meal.

I’m not certain you could make the recipe nut-free since the nuts make up almost half of the bulk, 2 cups of nuts to 2.5 cups of flour. I’m not sure you can just sub in flour. If any of you try it, let me know how it turns out.

This is what the dough looked like after adding the 2 tablespoons of cherry-infused brandy. The problem is the brandy stayed more or less brandy-colored.

I figured I’d turn to Kirsch after all:

Still not pink.

Okay, fine, time for the secret weapon:

I imagine if I used maraschino cherries, I wouldn’t need this. That’s because maraschino cherries are full of this already.

There we go!
No need to buy a “sifter.” I never use mine. A sieve works just as well.

The recipe says to divide the dough into two balls. If you’re going to be rolling something out flat, do yourself a favor and press it into discs instead. Might as well get a head start for when it’s stiff and hard to roll.

After an overnight in the fridge, it was time to roll, cut, and bake. Here’s an easy way to get an even layer of flour on your rolling surface. I’m planning on looking for a powdered sugar shaker, but a fine sieve works well too.

I don’t know if it’s frowned upon, but if you’re just going to flip the dough and get the other side floured anyway, just lightly flour the top of the dough. It’s easier than trying to flour the rolling pin.

Ugh, I hate when it cracks like this. Usually a sign it’s still too stiff and I’m trying to flatten it too fast. Press the cracks back together and ease up a bit.

The secrets to keep the dough from sticking to the table are:

  • Flour. Not too much, but even so you don’t have sticking spots
  • Chilled dough. The softer the butter, the stickier things get
  • Light, even pressure. Don’t try to mash it down in a few strokes. Gradual flattening keeps the dough from cracking and tearing
  • Keep the dough moving. Do a few strokes with the rolling pin, then lift and flip. If it gets too big to flip, lift and rotate. This lets you know what spots are starting to stick before it’s too late to fix them. It also helps keep things even

The recipe said to roll them 1/3 of an inch thick. Mine were closer to 1/4 and thinner on re-rolls. I often make sugar cookies and gingerbread cutouts too thin. Trying to get as many from the dough as I can, I guess.

I tried the cookies before drizzling the chocolate. They were soft and mildly sweet with the occasional tart cherry burst.

Again, using a bowl over steaming water to melt chunks of white chocolate. I broke the bars up with my hands instead of chopping with my knife.

The recipe said to use a soup spoon to drizzle, but this is what I got when I tried that. A fork worked much better to get nice thin stripes.

I was actually afraid the chocolate wasn’t going to set since after an hour it felt cool but was still liquid. A few hours later, though, it set just fine. I was prepared to have to refrigerate or freeze these.

Overall Impressions

I think the white chocolate added the extra bump of sweetness these cookies were missing. I like the cherries but would love to try these without nuts somehow, like a sandy shortbread, and with dark chocolate. Cherries and dark chocolate are old lovers, after all.

Tips and Suggestions

  • Use maraschino cherries if you really want that pop of color or be prepared to add food coloring.
  • Try soaking the cherries in cherry flavored brandy or kirsch.
  • Try omitting the nuts and making up the difference with more flour, see if that works.
  • Flatten dough into discs before refrigerating, instead of balls.
  • Dust your rolling surface with flour using a mesh sieve. Make sure to lift the dough periodically to make sure it’s not sticking.
  • Drizzle with milk or dark chocolate.
  • Use a fork or piping bag to get thin drizzles.

Next time

Florida and key lime cookies. I love lime so I’m stoked, but I just hope I can find key limes or I’ll have to cheat with regular limes.

All photos by Amber Sutton

Originally published at

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