Cranberry Shortbread

Shortbread is a real tea classic.  These cookies break the mold, well, by not using a shortbread mold.  The addition of the cranberries adds a nice tart contrast.

Dried Cranberry Shortbread

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 c sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c finely chopped dried cranberries
1. Heat oven to 325oF with a rack in center.  Combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, flour, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Beat with a wooden spoon until combined but not too creamy.  Stir in dried cranberries.
2. Pat dough evenly into an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan.  Bake until just beginning to turn golden, about 20 minutes.  Place pan on cooling rack until cool enough to touch, about 20 minutes.  Run knife around edges and slice with a sharp knife.  Gently turn out of pan.  Cookies will keep for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Makes about 12-16 rectangles

Chocolate Nut Biscotti

America seems to have something of a coffee addiction, what with the Starbucks phenomenon, “America runs on Dunkin’ ” and the rest of the coffee chains… Wouldn’t it be nice to have some nice, homemade biscotti to complement? You should try to use high quality chocolate, if you can.

Chocolate Nut Biscotti

2 large eggs
1 tbs. instant coffee
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c butter, softened
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 c almonds, chopped
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 325oF  Lightly butter and flour a large baking sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, stir the eggs, instant coffee, and vanilla until well-blended and set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in the egg mixture.  Gradually add the flour mixture, beating well after each addition.  Stir in the nuts and chocolate.
4. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions.  On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into 2 logs, each 14 in. long, 1 1/2 in. wide, and 1 in. thick.  Place the logs 12” apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
5. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove the logs from the baking sheet and place on a cutting board.  Using a serrated knife, cut each log diagonally into 3/4” slices.  Place the slices upright and 1/2” apart on the baking sheet.
6. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until slightly dry.  Remove the biscotti from the baking sheet.  Cool completely on the wire rack.
7. Store in a tightly covered container.

Makes about 30 cookies

Caramel Cashew Cookies

I call these “my signature cookie”, but I should probably just rephrase that to “my favourite cookie”. Could this be because I love cashews, caramel and cookies?  Most probably… As a warning, these generally do not travel well, as the caramel tends not to solidify enough to stack them conveniently. If you’re storing them, I’d suggest separating them with pieces of parchment paper or waxed paper.


Caramel Cashew Cookies

1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 c roasted, salted cashews
2 tbs plus 1 tsp. canola oil
1 stick (8 tbs) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
24 cubes soft caramel candy (7 oz.)
1/4 c heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350oF and line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Sift flour and salt together.? Coarsely chop 1 c cashews; set aside. Process remaining 1 1/2 c cashews in a food processor until finely chopped. Pour in oil. Process until mixture is creamy, about 2 minutes.

3. Put cashew mixture, butter, and sugars into a large bowl; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and? gradually add flour mixture. Mix in reserved chopped cashews.

4. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; space 2 inches apart the prepared baking sheets. Bake 6 minutes; gently flatten with a spatula. Bake until bottoms are just golden, 6 to 7 minutes more. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.

5. Melt caramels with cream in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring. Let cool until it is about the consistency of honey. Using a spoon, drizzle caramel over cookies; let set. Store airtight in single layers.
NOTE: These cookies are a bit difficult to store (due to the caramel drizzles). If you are storing them in layers, it is best to separate them with waxed paper. They also store well in the refrigerator or other cool environment.

Makes about 30 cookies