Strong Arm Cookies

Strong-Arm Cookies
8 dozen small cookies - 4 dozen larger

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecan halves, toasted and cooled
2 cups dried cherries
2 cups extra-large chocolate chips ("chocolate chunks")

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until the sugar is thoroughly creamed into the butter mixture, about 5 minutes. Thoroughly beat in the eggs, then stir in the buttermilk. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gently stir into the butter mixture until you can see no more flour. Stir in the nuts, cherries, and chips. Chill the batter, tightly covered with plastic wrap, for at least an hour, overnight is better.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with a silicone nonstick sheet or parchment paper.

Using a 1/2 tablespoon scoop (I use a tablespoon scoop), measure out a dozen evenly spaced cookies. Using the heel of your hand, gently push on each cookie to flatten slightly. Bake for 8 to 11 minutes,or until you can touch them lightly and leave almost no imprint.

Allow cookies to cool one minute on the cookie sheets before using a metal spatula to remove them to a rack to cool completely.

Store in airtight container at room temperature.

COOK'S NOTE: To freeze as many cookies as you want, scoop them on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. When completely frozen place frozen cookie balls in a zip lock freezer bag that you have written the name of the cookie and baking instructions on, and place in the freezer. When ready to bake, no need to thaw, just place on a cookie sheet and let them set out while the oven preheats. Bake as directed. This method works with all drop cookies.