In my holiday baking each year, I try to include a little something for everyone. There is always the sweet. And the nutty. And the chocolatey. And the simple. These profiles are easy. It’s the fruity I struggle with a little. In years’ past, the jam thumbprint has served me well. But, as solid as that recipe is, I feel it’s a little played-out. This year my search for fruity brought me to a simple cranberry-orange shortbread. Well actually, I decided I wanted to do something with cranberries and orange and then found a recipe to match.
And, it’s a good one.
Here’s why. You can make the dough, roll it into a log and freeze it for a couple of weeks. Then when you are ready, all you do is defrost, slice and bake. Okay, okay, I realize this is not a novel concept. Yes, I know, there is an entire category of treats called, “Icebox Cookies.” But, I have to admit, until this year, I was a bit of a freezer snob when it came to baked goods. I always thought freezing dough—either before or after baking would compromise the taste. And, for some recipes it does. So, this was my Betty Crocker modern housewife experiment. You know what? It worked.
I made a double batch, rolled out the logs, wrapped each in parchment, wrapped the whole lot in plastic, then freezer bagged everything and into the freezer the dough went. For a month.
Last weekend, at the very end of my baking, I pulled out the dough and let it defrost while the oven was pre-heating. Never one to pass up the opportunity to add glitter to a project, I rolled the dough in white sanding sugar first.
Because really, do you know anyone who doesn’t like sparkles?
Then, I sliced them up and into the over they went.
Ten minutes later, I had a light, crumbly, fruity addition to my holiday cookie menagerie.
Their uniform shape and depth would make the orange shortbread cookies an excellent candidate for clear cellophane bags. You could also make a variation or two and line them up neatly in a cute box.
This recipe is straight out of Southern Living. The only thing I added was the sanding sugar. I think those Southern Belles would approve.
Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies
Southern Living, December 2009
Yield: Makes 4 dozen
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Wax paper
1. Beat 1 cup softened butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add 3/4 cup powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Stir in chopped cranberries, orange zest, vanilla extract, and almond extract until blended.
2. Stir together 2 cups flour, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, and 1/8 tsp. salt.
3. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
4. Shape shortbread dough into 2 (7-inch) logs. Wrap each log in wax paper, and chill 4 hours, or freeze logs in zip-top plastic freezer bags up to 1 month.
5. Preheat oven to 350°.
6. If frozen, let logs stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Cut each log into 24 slices. Place shortbread slices 1 inch apart on lightly greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
7. Bake shortbread slices at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges of slices are golden.
8. Remove shortbread from baking sheets, and place on wire racks; let cool completely (about 20 minutes). Store in airtight containers.