Friday, December 17, 2010

Cranberry Shortbread


Count Down to Christmas Cookie Recipes


We're in a shortbread mood and these are just about perfect and oh, so easy!

Never enough shortbread!
Lovely, delicate and divine
Cranberry Shortbread
at the top of the picture
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Makes 2 (7 inch round) shortbreads
Requires baking parchment paper
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1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 stick cold butter (cut into random 1 inch chunks - margarine not recommended)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Pulse flour, cornstarch, butter and sugar together in food processor (using the dough blade if you have one) until it almost come together into a ball - about 1 minute.  Add cranberries and pulse until mixture comes together and cranberries have been slightly chopped - about 30 seconds.  Do not over process dough or it becomes pink. (If you over process, you loose the gorgeous contrast between the shortbread and the cranberries and the cranberry flavor gets lost.)

Remove the dough (and any dough fragments) from the food processor and, using your hands, work dough briefly so it all comes together into a ball. (Do not over work or the heat of your hands will melt the butter.) Divide the dough in half and place onto the parchment lined cookie sheet.

Leave plenty of space between
and around the
shortbreads
Using you fingers, press dough piece into a 7 inch circle. Circles should be centered on the cookie sheet and several inches apart. (See photo.)

Use the palm of one hand to press dough making it level and uniform. (You can also lightly roll a rolling pin over the top of each circle to level.)  

Cut each shortbread into 8 wedges by pressing a knife, metal spatula or similar cutter through the dough. (Be careful not to drag the knife through the dough which will result in ragged edges after baking.) Use a dinner fork to make 3 sets of holes down each wedge. (See photo.)

Using a metal spatula, gently tap the sides of each circle all the way around. (See photo.)

"Knocking up your pastry"
This makes the edges neat and gives a slight rise to the edge making it more professional looking. (This technique, btw, is called "knocking up your pastry" in England).

Lightly cover the cookie sheet (with the dough on it) and place into the refrigerator. Chill dough for at least 1 hour. Longer is OK - up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, position oven rack so shortbread will bake in center. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (yes, 300 degrees). Do not remove the shortbread from the refrigerator until the oven is preheated.

Bake the cold shortbread until lightly browned on bottom and barely brown on top - about 30 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and immediately lightly press a knife into the slices to define the original cuts. Using a fork, re-poke the holes in the slices. Be careful not to poke new holes.  You are just re-defining the original holes. Slide shortbread (still on parchment paper) onto cooling rack.  Let cool completely - about 1 hour.

Remove the shortbread from the parchment paper for serving or gift giving.  Leave shortbread whole or carefully break into wedges.

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