Is it just me, or are fresh cranberries absolutely irresistible? They show up every fall, right in time for Thanksgiving, and tempt shoppers. Round, red and shiny, they even look festive. As soon as I see fresh cranberries each fall, I buy them and figure out what to do with them later.
Unfortunately, this year I first spotted the lovely berries was at Costco. And of course, I bought the bag (or, more accurately, the sack). Yes, I ended up with about 8 pounds of cranberries and no idea what to do with all of them. It was time to get creative.
I made cranberry sauce and cranberry jelly, cranberry marinades and stuffings and salads. And yet, I barely made a dent in my sack of berries. So I searched for creative uses that I hadn't already tried, and these cookies were the result (mostly thanks to Mark Bittman's basic cookie dough recipe, which serves as a solid base). They have a strong taste of cranberries and orange, so if you like those, you will like these cookies. If not, I would steer clear of this recipe (and the sacks of cranberries at Costco).
1 c. fresh cranberries
3/4 c. pecans
1 orange (for zesting)
1 stick butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/4 c. milk, plus 1 tbsp., separate
4 tbsp. brown sugar
In a food processor, chop cranberries and pecans into very small chunks. Zest about 1/4 of the orange and add to cranberry-pecan mixture. Stir well and set aside.
In a mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and egg and beat until well mixed. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add about half of dry ingredients and mix well. Add 1/4 c. of milk, mix well, then add the remaining dry ingredients.
In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp. milk with brown sugar until you form a paste. Roll out dough into a long rectangle (don't worry about it being perfect). With a spoon, spread the paste over the dough evenly, leaving a bit of a border along the edges. Sprinkle the cranberry-pecan mixture over the paste, again leaving a bit of a border.
Roll the dough up into a roll and chill in the fridge, or freeze (for up to a few weeks). Once dough is chilled, preheat oven to 375°F. Using a very sharp knife, slice dough roll into cookies, about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick.
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake until the dough turns slightly golden, about 15 minutes. (These cookies tend not to brown very much and can look underdone, like other sugar cookies; don't let them brown completely, as they will be overdone and rather hard.)