So far this Christmas season, I’ve been really proud of myself as far as branching out goes. Every year it seems I bake the same cookies, cakes, and snacks. I have lists and lists of awesome sounding recipes I’ve been wanting to try, yet I still end up making the same old things. Not that there’s anything wrong with a great standby, but you gotta be adventurous, right? I looooove shortbread and I looooove the combination of pistachios and cranberries; and that’s exactly how these cookies were born!
I recently mentioned that I baked these for our Christmas party (along with these Soft Almond Sugar Cookies), but I didn’t go into any detail. Well, let me tell you what a HIT these were! People kept going back and forth between these and the almond cookies trying to figure out their favorite, but I feel like these were the clear winner. I think it was the white chocolate that did it. These were so incredibly EASY! Great taste, great appearance, great method. GREAT Christmas cookie.
Pistachio-Cranberry Shortbread Cookies
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
2 cups melted white chocolate chips, for dipping (optional)
Working in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy. Add the sugar and salt and continue to beat until smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the egg yolks and vanilla, again beating until well blended.
Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the mixer and pulse the mixer about 5 times at low speed for 1 or 2 seconds each time. Take a peek; if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, stir for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. If you still have some flour on the bottom of the bowl, stop mixing and use a rubber spatula to work the rest of it into the dough. (The dough will not come together in a ball — and it shouldn’t. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you’re aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy dough. When pinched, it should feel a little like Play-Doh.) Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.
Scrape the dough onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long (it’s easiest to work on a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and chill them for at least 2 hours. The dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Trim the ends of the roll if they are ragged and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.
Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Let the cookies rest 1 or 2 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a cooling rack with a wide metal spatula. Repeat with the remaining log of dough. (Make sure the sheet is cool before baking each batch.)
When the cookies are cool, dip each cookie (I like to just dip half of the cookie since white chocolate can be a bit rich) in the melted white chocolate and place on wax paper. Makes about 50 cookies.
Recipe source: sable (shortbread) recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan; pistachio-cranberry-white chocolate idea is a Sing For Your Supper original