Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Baking Made Easy - Cranberry Shortbread

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com


Cranberry Shortbread (top)
Brows Sugar Shortbread (below)


We're never met shortbread that we didn't like but this classy little recipe is one of our favorites.

Easy, yummy,and  a little unusual ... just about perfect we'd say.

A great way to begin your holiday baking.... just be sure to leave some for Christmas!

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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 (salted or un salted - 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.  (See Karla's Tip #1 below.)

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 both pieces onto the parchment lined cookie sheet spacing them evenly.  Circles should be centered on the cookie sheet and several inches apart.

Leave plenty of room
between the circles
of dough
Using you fingers, press dough piece into a 7 inch circle.

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 circle into 8 wedges by pressing a knife, metal spatula or similar cutter through the dough.  (See Karla's Tip #2 below.)

Use a dinner fork to make 3 sets of holes down each wedge.

Using a metal spatula, gently tap the sides of each circle all the way around.   (See Karla's Tip #3 below.)

Lightly cover the cookie sheet (with the dough on it) and place into the refrigerator.  
"Knocking Up"
the shortbread
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.


Karla's Tip #1 - Over processing the dough
If you over process, the dough becomes pink so you'll loose the gorgeous contrast in color between the white of the shortbread and the red of the cranberries.  

The flavor contrast is also affected - the distinctive cranberry taste becomes blended with the dough. 

Overall, the cookies will still taste OK but it's the difference between a good cookie and a GREAT cookie.

Karla's Tip #2 - Cutting Dough
Press the knife into the dough then lift the knife to move it to the next cutting point.
Do not drag the knife (the motion you use when cutting with a knife) through the dough.
Dragging results in ragged edges after baking.


Karla's Tip #3 - Knocking Up Your Shortbread
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 and is used for all kinds of doughs - especially puff pastry.  



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