Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal -- http://janessweets.blogspot.com -- December 2010
Cinnamon Cranberry Shortbread Cookies
(This recipe is adapted from the classic shortbread recipe in Dede Wilson’s book, A Baker’s Field Guide to Christmas Cookies; 2010.)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper.
1 lb. of unsalted butter, softened (4 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt (a generous 1/4 tsp.; I think a wee bit of salt is vital in a cookie--without it, it's just flat)
3 drops vanilla extract
2 drops almond extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (or less, if you prefer; more, though, can overpower this recipe)
3/4 cup dried cranberries chopped very small (loosely packed into the measuring cup)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In the large bowl of your mixer, beat the butter at medium high speed for three minutes, until light and fluffy. Still on medium high speed, slowly pour in the sugar over a period of about 8 minutes (yes, I said 8 minutes), until the mixture is almost white in color and extremely fluffy. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts.
Now on the lowest speed, add in the flour mixture in three portions, mixing just until each portion is incorporated. Pour in the cranberry pieces and beat only until they seem fairly evenly distributed in the dough, not long at all. The dough should not be so soft that it needs to be chilled before rolling.
Divide the dough into thirds. Working with one third at a time, on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to about 1/4" thickness--no thinner. Using small cookie cutters of your choice, firmly cut the pieces and place them carefully onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. They can be placed pretty close together as they'll spread very, very little in the oven. Sprinkle each cookie with a couple pinches of granulated sugar.
Bake each tray for approximately 15 minutes or more, checking the cookies regularly; remove them from the oven when they just start to turn slightly golden around the edges. They're not supposed to become golden brown all over. Allow them to cool on the pans for 10 minutes before removing them to cooling racks.
Alternately, you can press the dough evenly into an 8" or 9" tart pans with removable bottoms. This is a very quick and easy method if you don't feel like using cookie cutters. Sprinkle sugar on top and place the pans on top of cookie sheets to bake. If you make them this way, slice the baked cookies pie-wedge fashion while they're still somewhat warm from the oven; if you wait to slice them until they're cool, they'll be far more prone to breaking apart.