8 ounces almond paste
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
4 tablespoons unsweetened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
12 maraschino cherries plus
2 teaspoons maraschino
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
Break the almond paste up into small pieces and place in a food processor or mixer. Add the sugar and mix well.
Add the egg whites, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, and maraschino cherry liquid and process or mix for 2 minutes or until the batter is moist and smooth.
The batter will be sticky.
Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag or cookie press fitted with a large star tip.
Pipe the batter into 24 stars about 1 1/2 inches in diameter on the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
To make it even easier, you can simply drop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared sheets.
Dry the maraschino cherries well and cut them in half. Top each cookie with half a cherry.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes. (You can skip this step if in a hurry, but if you piped the cookies into stars, the edges will be more defined if you chilled them before baking.)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Bake the cookies for 25-30 minutes.
Place the parchment paper or baking mats on a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely before peeling off the paper.