September 29, 2012

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

It's official: the first signs of fall have reached the South. It may be 80-something degrees in the afternoon, but it is frigid in the morning (well, if you count 50 degrees as freezing) and leaves are beginning to fall from the trees. I've been baking cinnamony and pumpkiny and cranberry-y things for a month now and it finally feels justifiable.

To celebrate, I made a batch of buttery shortbread studded with creamy white chocolate and tart cranberries. They melt in your mouth and are deliciously crumbly, and they have all the good things of shortbread plus all that's good about fall. Another bonus is that, because they are shortbread and not sugar cookies, there are no eggs. All that means to me is that I can eat the dough without worrying about salmonella and that fun stuff.

Want to know the key characteristic of shortbread? Let's ask our good friend Paula Deen. Enough said. There is a LOT of butter in this recipe, but that is what makes them melt in your mouth, and it also gives the cookies wonderful flavor. Since there are no eggs, butter is the primary source of moisture; you want a dry, crumbly cookie, but you want a cookie, not streusel. Without this ungodly amount of butter, you would just be baking mounds of coffee cake topper. That's delicious and all, but I want a cookie and I want it to taste good.

These cookies are what is commonly known as slice and bake cookies, which means that you roll the dough into a log, chill it, and slice it into coins. You can make the logs as big or as small as you want, but I make mine about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and slice them about half an inch thick. This size allows them to bake perfectly and have the best texture without becoming too dark.

What makes these cookies unique is the smattering of dried cranberries. You can get dried cranberries pretty much anywhere now, and for good reason. They are pleasantly chewy and tart, and they complement the flavors and textures of both the white chocolate and the shortbread. I don't bother chopping mine for this recipe since they are cut when I slice the logs of dough; this cuts down on time and the varied sizes of cranberries gives the cookies a rustic look.

My white chocolate cranberry cookies couldn't be simpler, and they taste so good!  The flavors are simple and shout elements of fall. I like to make them in bulk and keep them in my freezer because both the dough and the cookies freeze spectacularly, but they are usually gone within hours anyway.

2 Sticks Butter, Softened
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
2 Cups Flour
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup White Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries

Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt, then add the flour. Fold in the white chocolate chips and cranberries.

Split the dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into two logs about 1 1/2" in diameter, sealing the ends of the plastic. Chill until cold, about 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 350F and line cookie trays with parchment.

Slice the dough into 1/2" rounds and place the coins on the prepared trays. Bake for 8 minutes or until just golden around the edges.

Makes 28
Recipe Adapted from

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