Crumbly, buttery shortbread is just the right amount of sweet from a roll in sugar, with a citrusy bitterness, and packed with fresh cranberries that give them a kick of sweet and sour.
I don’t know about you, but basically from mid-October on, every time I walk into the grocery store I am basically accosted by giant stands of bags of cranberries. And this isn’t great for me, because here’s the thing – whenever you see a poll where people ask “canned or traditional” cranberry sauce, and like 98.3% of the vote is for traditional and you’re thinking to yourself, “who is the 1.7% weirdo who prefers canned cranberry sauce??”….well, that would be me.
I’ve never bought a bag of cranberries in my life before this year. I’ve always wanted to – I want to be a person who likes traditional cranberry sauce. (side note – I think I actually maybe am now!) I’m sure that there was a bowl of the traditional stuff on my grandmother’s thanksgiving table, but since I was an incredibly picky eater as a child – one of those kids who basically lived on chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese – I’m 100% sure I never tried it. Or if I did, it was one single stingy berry that my mom had to practically force feed me under threat of no apple pie for dessert if I didn’t at least try it.
And even though I’ve grown up to be a much more adventurous eater (my husband is somewhere laughing at this) I’ve still never gotten much of a taste for the bowl of cranberries, instead preferring the cool, gelatinous comfort of a well-known favorite. The culinary equivalent of slipping on a favorite oversized sweatshirt.
But anyway, there I was, faced with a wall of cranberries, and I just grabbed a bag with no plan or idea in mind of how to use them. And then they sat in my fridge. And they sat. And they sat some more. Thanksgiving came and went, and they were still there. I knew that if I didn’t do something with them, and soon, that I would just throw the bag away, and that just wouldn’t do.
So I googled “what to do with cranberries” and found this recipe. I couldn’t tell you what about it caught my eye, other than I knew I had all the ingredients I would need to make it. I don’t particularly like shortbread cookies. My last adventure with them was a lemon lavender abomination about 8 years ago, and I’ve never tried them again since.
But I figured what the hell – I’m either going to make this recipe or throw the bag away. And man oh man, I made the right call. This cookie is superb. Just a tiny bit sweet, with a nice citrus bitterness, and oh so buttery. It crumbles as you bite it, and the sweet/sour kick from the cranberries is pure perfection.
Next year, I wont be impulse buying cranberries – I’ll be buying them to make a double batch of these cookies!
History of Shortbread Cookies:
Shortbread cookies are a type of cookie that are known for their high butter content. They’re “short” in that they have a short, crumbly texture, which is caused by the fat in the butter. The original recipe, which originated in Scotland in the 12th century called for one part sugar, 2 parts butter, and three parts flour. Most recipes today still stick to that 1-2-3 ratio, although plenty of different flavorings are added (like my aforementioned lemon and lavender debacle).
1 H & 35 M
Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 cup of fresh cranberries, finely chopped
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
- Combine the butter and ½ cup of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer. Mix on medium speed until well blended.
- Add the flour a half cup at a time, blending after each addition.
- Add the chopped cranberries and orange zest, and mix to combine.
- Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll each half into a log, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 3 days.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350.
- Place the remaining ¼ cup of sugar into a bowl.
- Cut the ends off of the logs of dough, just to neaten it up a little, and then cut into ¼ inch rounds. Roll the edges of the dough rounds in the sugar, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes.*
- Remove from the oven and let cool for about 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving to finish cooling on a cooling rack.
*The cookies will still be very pale, even after 20 minutes. Lift one up as best you can - if the side touching the sheet has browned, you're good to go. They will firm up more as they cool.
I could not get these cookies to hold together after baking. No matter how thick I cut them, they crumbled as I tried to remove them to finish cooling/setting. They taste great, but I had mostly crumbs and chunks.