Ah, it's a beautiful day here in Seattle. I wish you were here to enjoy it. The sun is out! People are smiling and more generous than usual saying such things as, "oh, please, you go first," at stop signs and in supermarket lines. It just makes you want to hug your neighbor.
Okay, I know, that's odd, but sometimes the sun makes me giddy.
Yesterday was a glorious day, too. I spent it with my Aunt Mimi baking and kavetching over tea. There just weren't enough hours in the day! So many things to bake, so little time. There's nothing better than this time of year: long discussions about what to make for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, brunches, appetizers, testing recipes, baking bread, cookies...
When you love food, as we do in my family, everything is centered around cooking.
One of the things we baked up yesterday were these delicious shortbread cookies. We took a basic shortbread recipe and turned it "Fall" by adding orange zest and dried cranberries. The result were beautifully red and orange speckled buttery shortbread. You really could add any kind of dried fruit or nuts (or both!) to this recipe. Pecans would be wonderful as well. Or, try a savory version.
Whatever makes your palate sing!
Cranberry Orange Shortbread
3/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
Zest of one orange
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla extract, zest and cranberries.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and roll the dough into a 2 1/2 –inch thick log. Wrap in plastic and freeze for 30 minutes.
Slice into 1/2-inch rounds. Reshape if necessary. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet or Silpat. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve.
Makes 20 to 24 cookies
Note: For a pecan version, substitute the vanilla extract for almond extract, and add a handful of crushed pecans (or more if you like) in place of the orange zest and cranberries.