Many of my favorite holiday memories include making cookies in various sizes, shapes and flavors. The aroma of fresh baked cookies around the holidays triggers memories of the amazing Christmas celebrations I had as a child. Having grown up in a Italian American household, there was never a shortage of anise shortbread cookies, florentines and of course, all manner of biscotti.
I loved when my mother would start her holiday baking in preparation for the neighborhood cookie exchange. My German neighbors made the most amazingly buttery spritz cookies, as well as the best linzer cookies I have ever had. My Jewish friends made delicious oil-based sesame cookie rings and scrumptious Mandelbrot. Oh, and I can’t forget the boring old Smith family, who only made the most incredible chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies ever created.
Today, I love baking cookies with my own children and sharing these treats with my neighbors. If you would like to start your own holiday cookie tradition, join me this December 23rd at ICE for a make-and-take holiday cookie class. Bring your friends and family to what promises to be the most festive, collaborative cookie-making party of the season! (If you can’t join us, you can still get started with my shortbread recipe below.)
Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread
Makes about 48 shortbread cookies.
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
- In a large bowl whisk the flour with the salt.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth (about 1 – 2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy (about 3 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Fold in the chopped pistachios and dried cranberries. (Make sure that the nuts and cranberries are evenly distributed throughout the dough.)
- Divide the dough in half. Place each half of dough on the center of a 14 inch length of parchment or wax paper. Smooth and shape the dough into an evenly shaped rectangle that is about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. Then thoroughly wrap the shaped logs in the parchment or wax paper, twists the ends of the paper to seal the logs, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours, or up to three days. (The logs can also be frozen for about two months. If freezing, it is best to defrost the logs in the refrigerator overnight before slicing and baking.)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Using a thin bladed knife, slice the logs into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick cookies. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until the cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.