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I get really, really excited when I see "cookie plate" as an option on a restaurant dessert menu. Why? Cookie plates are easy to share, making them an easy sell to fellow diners who are too full for a complete dessert. That means I won't, as tends to happen, be eating dessert alone, feeling the pointed stares of people who just want me to wrap it up so they can go home and watch that episode of Mad Men they have taped on their DVR. Of course that's alongside the fact that the only sweet I ever really want is a cookie, anyway.
Another bonus to cookie plates is variety: there tend to be at least three miniaturized iterations, like they put the cookies in the 3/4-sizing machine and we get to eat the fun sized snacks that popped out at the other end. There's almost always a biscotti on that plate, and most recently, I had some small cornmeal biscotti. Sweet, crunchy, with a slightly sandy texture, each was the perfect one dunk into an accompanying espresso.
I came home and immediately decided to make my own version. I wanted something in my biscotti, and cornmeal has a bit of sweetness which I thought would pair nicely with cherries, which also nod to the season. Cherries make me think of almond, but chopped almonds would have added too much crunch. So I chose almond extract—to be precise, I used a blend of almond and vanilla extracts because while using almond extract alone would overpower the cookie, just 1/2 teaspoon adds enough nutty flavor to complement the cherries.
I make these full size at home, when I'm more likely to be dunking them into my oversized "Mrs. Darcey" mug. But if you're having a dinner party, divide the dough into 4 equal sections and make the cookies just 1-inch high. I promise everyone will give them a try.
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