At home, we do not bake often cookies. Embracing a healthier lifestyle our daily snacks consist of variety of fruits and nuts and the occasional dark chocolate bite. However, for a long time, this has not always been the case. For years cookie snacks have been a delicious excuse for on-the-road or in-front-of-the-laptop office breakfast. Up to a point when a friend of mine admitted that she preferred to bake her own weekly cookies as she considered them to be a healthier alternative to the shop bought ones. And of course, she is absolutely right. Fresh bakes lack preservatives and are made of much healthier ingredients. Still, we do not bake often cookies.
As an exception to the rule, and as a friendly gift for someone special, these Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies and reviving our kitchen with a incredible aromas. I love the Scottish shortbread cookies, but even more than that, they are my husband favourites. Dry yet melting in the mouth, sweet vanilla yet slightly salty they are irresistible to human kind. But the variation on the classic recipe I am preparing today is something different. A shortbread cookie as we know it but full of almond, orange flavour and the sweet sour touch of dry cranberries. An absolute sensation! I am packing them as gift, but cleaver family fingers always manage so steal a piece.. of maybe two. And who can blame them? I would do just the same.
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- ¾ cups sugar divided
- 2½ cups all purpose flour – spooned and leveled not scooped
- 1 cup butter cubed (and cold)
- 1 tsp almond extract
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 to 2 tbsp of fresh orange juice optional
- additional sugar to coat cookies before baking if desired
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Combine cranberries and 1/4 cup of sugar in a food processor and process just until the cranberries are broken down into smaller pieces. Set aside.
3. Combine flour and remaining sugar in a large bowl.
4. Use a pastry cutter to cut in butter. You want very fine crumbs.
5. Stir in extract, cranberries and sugar mixture, orange zest and orange juice (optional).
6. Use your hands to knead the dough until it comes together and forms a ball. Work the dough until it comes together.
7. Shape dough into a log about two inches in a diameter and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours or up to 72 hours.
8. Preheat oven to 175C.
9. Cut slices of cookie dough about ¼ inch thick.
10. Place about a half a cup of sugar in a bowl and coat the cookie slices with sugar.
11. Place cookies on baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or just until cookies are set. Do not over bake. I pull mine at 12 minutes.
12. Let cookies cool for several minutes on baking sheet before removing to cooling rack. Let cool completely.