Is it too early for thinking about holiday baking?
Now is when I want to make cookies...before I've gorged on far too many holiday treats.. and chocolate... and sugar. By the time the holidays roll around I'm done. I'm done with chocolate and caramel, I'm done with all things in cookie crust. But , right, now? I can't wait. So, today I have cookies.
I have these pretty Cranberry Ginger Squares. A soft buttery cookie, laced with orange zest, filled with dried cranberries, cherries and a bit of candied ginger. I have a thing for candied ginger. I find its heat incredibly addictive.
I used dried cherries because I love them. I ran my knife through them quickly so they were similar in size to the cranberries. I love the result, with the two tones of red peaking through between the layers. So in the end, my ratio was about ⅓ cup of each dried cranberries, dried cherries and candied ginger. I admit I did not measure them individually. I just grabbed handfuls of each until I had a full cup of dried fruit. Pack it in tight.
The recipe is slightly adapted from the Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy cookbook by Alice Medrich. This is my go-to cookbook for cookies. Nothing in this book has failed me. A compliment I do not give out lightly.
Since my cranberries where a bit on the hard side, I followed Medrich's advice and gave the fruit a quick soak. Soaking them in a bit of hot water for about 15 minutes to soften slightly. This is a quick and easy way to soften your dried fruit for recipes like this. Baking / cooking dried fruit will make the fruit harder. Just be sure to drain the fruit and pat it completely dry before layering it into the cookies. You don't want water on your dough.
Assembling these cookies looks more complicated than it is, and doesn't take nearly as long as you would think.
Basically, you want to roll your dough into a rectangle that is twice as long as it is wide. This way, when you fold it over you will have a square. Make the rectangle slightly larger than 8 X 16, so when you've stuffed the cookies between the layers, trimmed the sides, it's a snap to cut the dough into 16 squares - 1 inch by 1 inch. Of course if you could care less that your cookies are square, you could cut them however you want... it's just that Cranberry Ginger Rectangles doesn't sound so nice.
The dough is soft and sweet, but fairly easy to work with. If it tears, it patches up nicely without causing too much trouble with the aesthetics of the cookies.
Be creative here - add nuts and switch up the fruit. I'm thinking pecans and raisins would be divine - skip the orange zest in the dough. Candied peel, apricots, dates... possibilities are endless.
Cranberry Ginger Sugar Cookies
- 1-¾ cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick of unsalted butter ½ a cup
- ¾ cups white granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 cup of dried fruit - I used cranberries cherries and candied ginger
- ¼ cup of coarse sugar for dusting on top
To make dough:
- Combine dry ingredients - flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl or using a standmixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add egg, vanilla and lemon zest and beat until smooth. Add the flour and gently mix until incorporated. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, form into thick rectangles and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat over to 350
- Remove one dough piece from the refrigerator at a time, allow the dough to soften slightly before rolling, about 15 minutes.
- Lay a sheet of parchment paper on your work surface and roll dough into a rectangle - slightly larger than 8 x 16 inches. You want to have a little extra around the edges so you can trim the cookies before cutting.
- Line the short side of the dough so that it is facing you. Scatter half of the dried fruit onto the half ot the dough that is facing you. Using the paper to help you, fold the top half of the dough over top of the dried fruit and lightly press down. Remove the paper and sprinkle with a little bit of flour.
- Flip this over onto your cutting board or work surface and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut into squares - about 16.
- Repeat with the second piece of dough.
- Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment, about 2 inches apart. Bake 12-15 minutes, Edges should be lightly browned.
- Cool on a cooling rack. Cool completely before storing.
- These freeze nicely, or keep in an airtight container for about 1 week.