A festive colorful cookie for Christmas cookie plates, quick to make, easy to enjoy. The recipe uses less-expensive fresh cranberries, orange essence and pecans.
Many of us are celebrating Christmas frugally this year. We are “making the list, checking it twice” to save a few dollars here, more dollars there.
So a favorite food magazine’s frugal (ahem) entertaining ideas caught my attention. Granted, the article was titled ‘Luxury for Less’ – but still, it suggested we substitute American caviar for Russian beluga and truffle oil for scrapings of fresh truffles. “We get it,” the story opened. And they do, if luxury is a necessity. But luxury is luxury – and luxury not a necessity.
Me, I’m baking less this year, an accommodation to fewer cookie monsters within cookie-grabbing distance, and with less-expensive ingredients, in nod to life-strapped budgets.
But baking at all? It’s a luxury.
It’s a luxury to collect fresh cranberries and butter and sugar in my warm kitchen as Christmas carols waft in from the other room. It’s a luxury to put out cups of tea and a plate of fresh cookies and have loved ones reach out to enjoy them.
I feel rich beyond words.
This recipe goes way-way back to cookie swaps hosted by my dear friend Lisa (who much to my delight, now has the great blog My Own Sweet Thyme!) when we both lived in Dallas. I haven’t made the recipe in years but was attracted to the easy ingredient list, the use of less-expensive fresh cranberries versus dried cranberries, getting 5 dozen cookies from a single stick of butter – and most especially, the festive color! It’s going to be my contribution to my own cookie swap on Saturday.
So many Christmas cookie recipes seem to require chilling the dough before rolling or baking. This one – yahoo, another hat-tip to simplicity – actually works better if the cookies are baked immediately after mixing the dough. If the dough rests, the cranberry begins to stain the dough, resulting in a slightly muddy color, although no change in flavor.
FRESH CRANBERRY DROP COOKIES
Time to table: 90 minutes
Makes 5 dozen cookies two- to three-bites big
- 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 3/4 cup (165g) brown sugar
- 1/4 cup milk (see TIPS)
- 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate (see TIPS)
- 1 large egg
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 375g
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt (skip the salt if using salted butter)
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) pecans, preferably toasted, or black walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 6 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped in a food processor
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars with an electric mixer. Beat in milk, orange juice concentrate and egg. Separately, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then blend well into the butter mixture. With a wooden spoon, stir in the pecans and cranberries.
Using two spoons, one to scoop and one to scrape, drop dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat (see TIPS). (For less rustic, slightly neater cookies, you can also roll the dough into balls though it is quite sticky. For very neat cookies, use a cookie scoop.) Bake for about 15 minutes for light-colored cake-like cookies, slightly longer for golden chewy cookies. Let cool for 5 minutes, remove from sheet to continue cooling.
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