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Dark chocolate, cherries are a perfect fit in these cheerful cookies

It’s the season for cookie swaps, holiday parties, unexpected surprises for teachers and mentors in your life and kind, neighborly gestures that also might involve cookies.

If you haven’t already broken out the mixer and the cookie sheet, here’s a great recipe to get you started. It’s from Yasmin Khan’s 2016 book “The Saffron Tales,” where she explains that these cookies are from artisan chocolatiers in northern Tehran who studied chocolate in Belgium, France and Italy before bringing the trade back to Iran.

In Iran, you might find cardamom or saffron included in the dough or pistachios sprinkled on top, but in this pared-down version, sour cherries and dark chocolate do most of the work. You can use regular dried cherries if you can’t find Persian sour cherries at an international market.

Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

5 ounces (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup soft dark brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup Persian sour cherries (or regular dried cherries), roughly chopped

Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Place the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

In an electric mixer with a beater attachment or in a bowl with a wooden spoon, cream the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, then gradually beat in the cocoa-flour mixture. Stir in the dark chocolate chips and sour cherries, then cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge for an hour or up to 2 days.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

When the dough is firm, take it out of the fridge and roll it into 12 balls about the size of a golf ball — about 2 inches round, 2 ounces in weight (an ice cream scoop is ideal for measuring the balls out). Place the balls on the baking trays, making sure you leave plenty of room (about 1/2-inch) between them, as they will spread out a lot (don’t be tempted to pat them down).

Bake the cookies for about 14 to 18 minutes. They are ready when a fork stuck into the middle of a cookie comes out clean. If you are baking the cookies on different shelves in the oven they will cook at different speeds, so you may have to take one batch out earlier than the other; keep a close eye on them.

Leave the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the trays, as they will be too fragile to move straight away, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. I like to sprinkle mine with a little sea salt at this stage to offset the sweetness of the chocolate, but that is entirely optional. Makes 12 large cookies.

— From “The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen” by Yasmin Khan (Bloomsbury, $35)

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