Cranberry pistachio shortbread

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A bigger batch of these cranberry-studded biscuits with the addition of pistachios. I love the gold, green, and deep red together.

These are my favourite holiday cookies because I find them well-balanced and not too sweet. Sweet-tart dried cranberries and fragrant clementines always evoke the holidays for me, and here they perfectly brighten up a rich shortbread. A handful of pistachios in the dough mainly happened because I wanted to see how the waxy pale green nut looked against the ruby fruit; the buttery flavour crunch was a bonus.

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The un-pistachioed version were amongst the cookies I took up to Sheffield last year. We almost immediately started eating them out of the tin the evening we arrived. This was their intended purpose, and I was very happy to see them snaffled up.

Since these are slice-and-bake, it’s particularly low-hassle to shape them and keep them cold until needed, baking them fresh so you’ll always have cookies ready, either to gift or simply to eat continuously, hand to tin to mouth.

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CRANBERRY PISTACHIO SHORTBREAD

Adapted from honey & jam. Makes 825g/1.8lbs dough/about 48 cookies, depending on how you slice them.

Raw dough can be chilled for up to 3 days, or frozen for 3 months. Baked cookies keep for at least 7 days in an airtight tin at room temperature, but good luck with that.

The dough is just sweet enough, but you could add more sugar in 2 tbsp increments.

Edit 2016: Recently pistachios have become even more expensive and hard to locate. I’ve found that the same weight (or volume) of toasted hazelnuts is a perfectly good substitute. Toasted almonds and/or good dark chocolate would be good, too.

* For this recipe, I found that a conversion of 1 cup = 140g for flour/icing sugar worked much better.

ingredients

225g/2 sticks unsalted butter, soft and spreadable
100g/3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted only if lumpy
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
Finely grated zest from 2 clementines or 1 large orange
150g/1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
75g – 100g (3/4 – 1 cup) unsalted or well-rinsed pistachios, roughly chopped (this is the unshelled weight)
275g/2 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

instructions

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric whisk or similar for a couple of minutes until softer and fluffier. Add the icing sugar a little at a time, beating between additions until completely incorporated.

Add vanilla extract, almond extract, grated zest, dried cranberries, and pistachios, beating well. Whisk together the remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl and gradually work it into the butter mixture. It’s best to use a wooden spoon for this if you’re using an electric whisk. You should have a pliable dough evenly studded with nuts and fruit.

Divide the dough in half (or into quarters, if easier for storage) and form into logs about 4 cm (1.5 inches) wide. Wrap  in parchment or clingfilm and chill for at least 1 hour or until completely firm, up to 3 days. You can double-wrap them and freeze for 3 months at this point, too.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 180 degrees C/160 fan (350 degrees F). Line a baking tray or two with paper.

Remove dough logs from fridge and slice into 6mm (1/4 inch) rounds and set 1 inch apart on lined trays. You might have to wait a bit for the logs to become sliceable, depending on your fridge/room temperature, so check on them at 10 minute intervals while they sit.

Bake for 12 minutes, rotating trays halfway through baking time. Cookies will be dry and mostly pale on top, with the bottoms a light yet definite gold. They’ll be soft but will firm up on cooling.

Allow to cool completely on racks (about 30 minutes) before storing.

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