We all get stuck in ruts. In the winter, especially, I have a hard time getting out of my own way and my work suffers for it. I’m grateful for the fact that I have friends whom I can turn to for a fresh eye so when I do get stuck, they can nudge me in the right direction. Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread Cookies are a fine example of one of these nudges.
It started with a middle of the night plea for something other than muffins, and after a bit of brainstorming, ended with a cookie that is not only incredibly easy to assemble, but tastes pretty darn good, too–once you get the salt right (sadly, there was too little in my first go around). The best part? You can whip up the dough and store it in your fridge or freezer for a rainy (snowy) day. Then just slice and bake and enjoy!
I just love the texture of shortbread; it is so unlike your typical chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, yet so very satisfying. Crunchy exterior crumbling into a fine, buttery sand that melts in your mouth. So much more sophistication, without any true additional effort. Every home baker should have a good shortbread cookie recipe in his/her arsenal. This may just be the one.
Want to add some spice to your life? I intended to make these with cayenne pepper originally, but succumbed to a sleep deficit combined with mommy brain and just plain forgot. That said, I still think they’d be excellent with 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper thrown in for a hint of heat. That would really play nicely off the tart sweetness of the cranberries and the richness of the chocolate. If you do try this recipe with the cayenne, I’d love to hear about it!
Where would I be without my muses? Making muffins again, I’m sure…
- 1 cup (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange-flavored liqueur (Cointreau is quite nice)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped
- 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
- sparkling sugar for decorating
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Mix in the vanilla extract.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. With the mixer on medium-low, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just incorporated.
- Add the cranberries and chocolate and mix until just incorporated. The dough will still be a bit crumbly--this is okay.
- Remove bowl from mixer and spread out 1 sheet of plastic wrap.
- Divide the dough in half and drop one half in the middle of the plastic wrap. Roll and press with your hands until you have a log about 9"-12" long. Wrap with the plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
- Repeat with the other half of the dough.
- Chill for at least 1 hour.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Remove one cookie log from the refrigerator and slice with a very sharp knife into discs about ½" thick. Arrange discs on cookie sheet, cut side down, at least ½" apart (you should be able to fit 18 per sheet). Sprinkle sparkling sugar over the tops.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges. Leave on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool.
- Repeat with remaining cookie dough.