These almond-cranberry shortbread cookies remind us of the holidays—the perfect recipe for potlucks, cookie swap parties, and any holiday event.
The cool weather is settling in slowly but surely in Minnesota. So far, we have had a long fall, but as we approached the holidays, the snow and the wind chill were taking over the Twin Cities.
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- Festive Culinary Treats
- Ingredients for this recipe
- How to make
- Can I make the cookie dough in advance?
- Why do I have to chill the dough before baking the cookies?
- How thick do I slice the cookies?
- Can I replace the powdered sugar with granulated sugar?
- PRO Tip
- More recipes to love and make
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Festive Culinary Treats
It feels good to bake when it snows, and cookies are always perfect with hot tea or my favorite Turkish coffee. Also, the holidays are the ideal time to reach out to friends and family. With cookies.
I'm always a fan of doing that with food and making edible gifts for friends and family.
Shortbread cookies are considered Christmas cookies, at least in the US. In other parts of the world, these cookies are enjoyed all year round.
These shortbread cookies are not regular shortbread cookies; the orange hint from the orange zest and the chewy and crunchy texture from cranberries and almonds make them festive and perfect for this time of year.
Ingredients for this recipe
- Powdered sugar- you can replace it with granulated sugar, but you will need to adjust the amount(more about this later)
- Unsalted butter at room temperature- please use butter for this recipe and not margarine. (Is there anybody out there who still bakes with margarine?) Also, if you absolutely need to use salted butter, skip the salt from the ingredients. We want a sweet cookie, not a savory one.
- Salt- you will need just a pinch of salt, which is very important to enhance the flavors of this recipe.
- Almond extract- works perfectly in this recipe. If you do not have almond extract, vanilla is acceptable, but really, go and get some almond extract from the grocery store.
- All-purpose flour
- Orange zest- the almond flavor and the orange zest and the cranberries are a perfect combination made in heaven.
- Dried cranberries- any dried cranberries brand will work. If you cannot find cranberries, try some dried cherries or even raisins. I am not a fan of the raisins in this recipe, but if you are in the middle of nowhere and cranberries are not an option, use whatever you have available.
- Toasted almond slivers
How to make
I made these cookies using a KitchenAid, but you can make the dough either by hand or using an electric mixer.
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Using a mixer, cream the butter, powdered sugar, almond extract, and salt until smooth and fluffy for about 3 minutes.
Turn the mixer on low speed and gradually add flour and orange zest. A dough will form. This is the time to stir in the cranberries and almonds with a spatula.
Form dough into a ball, then forms a log shape about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and slice it into ¼-inch thick slices. Place cookies on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
Bake between 12-15 minutes, just until the edges start to turn golden.
Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove them and place them on a cooling rack.
Can I make the cookie dough in advance?
Yes, this dough can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks before being baked.
Also, the dough can be kept frozen for up to 3 months.
It means that cookies can be freshly baked on demand. They are ideal for those who enjoy the pleasures of home-baked cookies but don't always have time to make them from scratch.
Why do I have to chill the dough before baking the cookies?
Because the dough has a high-fat content, it should be chilled for at least 1 hour and preferably for longer.
This will firm it to make slicing more manageable and will also ensure that the cookies hold their shape when baked.
How thick do I slice the cookies?
You have to slice them about ¼ inch thick.
The thickness of the slices partly determines the texture of the cookies: thinner slices will make crisp cookies, while thicker cookies will be less crisp.
Some cookies such as these we are baking today, with dried fruits and nuts, are the best cut in thicker slices.
Can I replace the powdered sugar with granulated sugar?
First of all, powdered sugar is the sugar of choice in this recipe. It blends really well with the butter, and these almond-cranberry shortbread cookies will be smooth and delicious.
Second, a lot of people are confused about what kind of sugar this is. Powdered sugar is also known as confectioner sugar or icing sugar.
It is, in fact, granulated sugar that has been finely ground and mixed with cornstarch to prevent caking.
Americans measure ingredients in cups and tablespoons, which can get confusing when swapping one ingredient for another.
For example, in this recipe, you need 1 cup of powdered sugar. If you want to use granulated sugar, you will have to use only ⅝ of a cup to have the same amount of sugar in the cookies.
Why? Because 1 cup of powdered sugar or ⅝ cup of granulated sugar is about 4.5 oz. The weight is the same, but the volume is different. A kitchen scale would be perfect in this case.
Handle the dough as little as possible to ensure the characteristic texture of the shortbread cookies.
Also, make sure you do not over-bake these cookies. They have to be baked just until the edges start to turn golden. I usually pull them out of the oven after 12-13 minutes.
The balance between the almond flavor and the rest of these beautiful ingredients makes these cookies the perfect treat for Christmas.
The recipe is simple, and the cookies can be put together in no time.
Easy to make and beautiful. What do you think? Are you going to try the recipe?
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Almond-Cranberry Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup powdered sugar OR ⅝ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries chopped or tart cherries
- ⅔ cup sliced almonds toasted
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Using a standing mixer, mix the butter, powder sugar, almond extract, and salt until smooth, around 3 minutes.
- Turn mixer on low speed and gradually add flour and orange zest.
- A dough will form.
- Stir in the cranberries and almonds with a spatula.
- Form dough into a ball, then forms a log shape, about 2 inches diameter.
- Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and slice into ¼-inch thick slices.
- Place cookies on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart.
- Bake between 12-15 minutes, just until the edges start to turn golden.
- Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them and place them on a cooling rack.
- Tip: The dough can be kept frozen for up to 3 months.
Delicious cookies, nice texture and mix of flavors. We enjoyed them a lot and finished half a tray in a heartbeat. However, I think I must have done something wrong because they didn´t hold the shape during baking. After 5 minutes in the oven they started spreading, resulting in a much thinner cookie of an irregular shape. I followed the recipe to the letter with one exception: I used regular sugar instead of powder. In your opinion could this have changed the chemistry in the recipe? Thank you.
The Bossy Kitchen says
Hi Cristina, I don't think sugar was the problem, I believe the dough was too warm. Was it in the fridge for at least an hour before you sliced and baked the cookies? This is an important step. Chilling cookie dough before baking solidifies the fat in the cookies. As the cookies bake, the fat in the chilled cookie dough takes longer to melt than room-temperature fat. And the longer the fat remains solid, the less cookies spread. The longer you chill it, the less it spreads in the oven.
@The Bossy Kitchen, Gabriela thank you for adding the clarification about the sugar. I am also wondering if confectioner sugar would work for this recipe and what would the ratio be. Thanks again!
The Bossy Kitchen says
Cristina, I updated the article with more information. In fact, confectioner sugar is also called powdered sugar or icing sugar. The recipe calls for this type of sugar.
I made these cookies again, 10 days later in an attempt to fix what I messed up last time. I must say - following the instructions and keeping into account Gabriela´s notes about sugar and cold dough - these cookies came out the best shortbread cookies I ever had. Also, just to make sure that the dough was cold enough I kept it in the freezer for the first 1/2 hour, than 3.5 more hours in the fridge. The shape kept during baking and they are a little less sweet than the last time, because I used confectioner´s sugar which is less sweet than regular sugar. Thank you Gabriela for your advice!
The Bossy Kitchen says
Awesome, Cristina! I am so happy you liked them better this time! They are good cookies!