Inspired by the nostalgic candy, this indulgent dessert is both familiar and elegant. Almond paste fortifies the rich aroma of the cherries, while kirsch adds cherry and floral notes. High-quality candied cherries, such as Luxardo or Amarena, work best here for flavor, but you can also use cocktail maraschino or glace cherries in a pinch.
For the cookies: Position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl until evenly combined; set aside. Break the almond paste into small pieces in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sugar and beat on low speed until the paste forms small crumbles in the sugar, about 2 minutes. Add half the butter and continue beating until the mixture starts forming large clumps and wiping the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining butter, increase the speed to medium high and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, egg and kirsch if using and beat until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low until the dough just comes together.
Scoop 30 tablespoon-size portions of dough, roll into balls and divide between the prepared baking sheets, spacing them evenly apart. Press a cherry in the center of each dough ball, then refrigerate the cookies on the baking sheets for 30 minutes.
Bake, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until the cookies are puffed and set at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 1 minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the glaze: Combine the sugar, 2 tablespoons of the reserved cherry syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the chocolate chips and stir slowly until smooth.
Using a teaspoon, spoon the chocolate glaze over the cherry of each cookie, letting it drip down the sides. Allow the glaze to set before serving, about 10 minutes. Store the cookies in a single layer in an airtight containers for up to 5 days.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)
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