Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cranberry Christmas Cookies

This will probably be my last post until the new year, so here is a wonderfully crisp sugar cookie with a tart cranberry filling that are pretty easy to make.  There are many recipes of this kind of cookie floating around out there, so call them whatever you want (I went alliterative).  Usually these kinds of doughs are chilled and then rolled, but I don't find any difference with rolling first and chilling later.  In fact, I find it much easier to roll this dough first because when chilled it is pretty finicky.  The cranberry filling is also a snap.  If it does not set up enough to your liking, just boil it again for another minute and retry.

- 1/2 cup refined coconut oil, room temperature (or margarine)
- 1/2 cup margarine, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup (90g) icing sugar
- 2 cups (315g) all purpose flour (spoon and level flour if you are not weighing it)

Cranberry Filling
- 1 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- 3 tbsp orange juice
- 3/4 cup sugar

Makes 12-18, depending on size
1. Cream together coconut oil and margarine with a hand mixer, or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, until smooth and fluffy.  Blend in extracts.  Blend in icing sugar.
2. Using a wooden spoon, mix in flour and bring into a soft dough.  Use your hands finish it off if needed.
3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick.  Using a metal cookie cutter, cut out as many shapes as you can.  Using a smaller cutter, punch out the centres of half of them (these will be your tops).  Re-roll dough scraps and repeat until dough is all used up.  Place on prepared sheets, (using a pastry scraper to transfer), cover, and chill for about 30 mins, until firm.
5. While cookies are chilling, preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Bake cookies one sheet at a time for 15-17 mins, until lightly golden on the edges.
6. Let cookies cool on the sheet for 5 mins, then remove to a wire rack to fully cool.

Cranberry Filling
1. Heat cranberries and orange juice to bubbling in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook for about 5 mins, mashing cranberries as they cook.
2. When cranberries are well-mashed, add sugar and turn heat to high.  Cook for about 2 mins at a rapid boil, stirring constantly.  Filling is ready when it drips thickly off your spoon (let it drip off the spoon when you first add the sugar and you will see what I mean).
3. Use a spoon to pass the filling through a fine mesh sieve.  Place in the fridge to cool down.

Make the cookies:
1. When jam has cooled but is not cold, spread on the bases of the cookies.  If the cookies puffed up too much during baking, simply flip the bottom cookie over so that the baking sheet-sides of the cookies are in the middle.  Don't spread right to the edges, and mound it up a bit in the centre.  Gently press a top on so that the jam spreads into the cut out middle.
2. You can store/freeze the cookies like this.  When ready to serve, dust gently with icing sugar.

Comment: some people are finding the dough crumbly.  The dough is a bit tricky to work with, but it also makes for a very delicate cookie.  A few tips: 
1. Roll first, refrigerate later.  If you chill first, allow the dough to warm up before rolling.  
2. Make sure you spoon and level the flour and icing sugar if you are not weighing it. 
3. Add some melted margarine if everything is still crumbly.