Food Eyeswoon Kitchen:

Orange Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

offbeat + inspired, adapted from Ina Garten

My love affair with shortbread cookies began as a child. There was nothing I craved more than Pecan Sandies as I rushed home from school, threw down my book bag and ran to the pantry. I was obsessed; they were so sandy, buttery and crumbly and I swooned nothing more…definitely my snack of choice for many years.

Fast-forward to adult life in NYC ten years later and I once again found myself quite literally devoted to my daily intake of shortbread cookies, though now at Starbucks. You know the ones….the duo of goodness sealed in the plastic pouch that waits for you at the register? I just loved the raw sugar that clung to the perimeter of the super decadent and buttery cookies – they felt very British to my 20-year-old mind. I also had a very specific way of eating these little treats – I would nibble my way around the edge of shortbread until all the raw sugar was eaten – sometimes I left the center in tact for the hubby to finish, completely childlike. I never really compared them to my childhood sandie infatuation, but what was similar was how I embarked on a daily habitual intake of shortbread that I looked forward to every afternoon. This went on for years!

With my continued love of this classic cookie I find it quite odd that I have never made my own! Sooooo this is what I set out to do last weekend together with Jivan as a fun mamma & son cooking adventure. Utilizing some wintery weather ingredients to spice things up, oranges and cranberries became the stars of my shortbread show. I considered rosemary, but since Jivan is a little cranberry monster we went in this direction. As we baked, I shared my shortbread tales and admittedly, he was rather skeptical that this batch would be as yummy as my tales told. And although he loves cranberries, he was especially suspect of this new twist on an old classic….but I just wouldn’t be a swooner if I didn’t infuse some unique flavors into my cookies! 

These little citrus delights came together with incredible ease – with just a few ingredients plopped into the Kitchen Aid and some orange zest we were ready to roll the dough into a log shape, wrap it in parchment and refrigerate for a few hours. The log of dough was easily sliced after refrigeration and once sprinkled with my beloved raw sugar, we popped them into the oven. The end result was just as sweet and delightful as my childhood memories. And one look at Jivan’s face, I realized that he too was hooked. 

Photography by Athena Calderone

Orange Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

offbeat + inspired, adapted from Ina Garten

The Ingredients

makes 2 dozen cookies

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
½ to ¾ cup dried cranberries
Additional sugar for sprinkling

The Prep

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Mix in the vanilla along with two teaspoons of water.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, ground ginger and orange zest. With the mixer on low, slowly pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix until ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour in the dried cranberries and stir with a spatula until evenly distributed.

Place the dough on a floured surface and form into a log shape. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the dough and slice it into about ½ inch slices. Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle on a little bit of coarse sugar (such as turbinado). Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on a wire rack. Serve and enjoy!

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