Christmas Cookies = Love

[Jump right to the recipe: Cranberry Palmiers]

There’s just something about a cookie that seems to make the holidays that much sweeter. Cookie swaps, cookie gift baskets, and cookie trays at the office all speak to our shared love of the Christmas cookie. Cookies really are more than just a tickle for the sweet tooth. They represent the love of a cook in the kitchen, all bundled up in a little package of goodness. Take a bite of a homemade cookie and you find your heart warm. Someone made this cookie just for you. You are special to them.

For me, cookies are a powerful thread that connects me to the past and my roots in the kitchen. My grandmother was a prolific cookie baker, and there were always batches of cookies in our house year round. Her specialty was chocolate chip, made according to the recipe on the back of the Toll House bag. But there was something special about the way she made that recipe, because to this day, no batch of cookies I make by those same directions tastes exactly like hers. Her “secret ingredient” was her special kind of love that only she could bring to a cookie.

I don’t make cookies much at all during the other 11 months of the year, but come holiday season, I get fierce itch to bake. At my holiday party I serve upwards of a dozen kinds of cookies and I try to be sure I take at least one batch to my office to let my co-workers know how much they mean to me. I don’t make chocolate chip cookies – they just aren’t the same and that’s okay with me – instead I follow my foodie bent and look for interesting and unexpected cookie flavors. This year my cookie collection includes tea-scented cookies, red velvet whoopee pies, and the cranberry palmiers featured in this post. I also make frosted sugar cookies that are a three day labor of love. And when I’m sitting at my kitchen table hanging tiny candy canes on tree cookies with tweezers and single drops of corn syrup, I’m more tightly connected to my past and my present than I could have ever imagined. While decorated cookies weren’t my grandmother’s style, it’s as if she’s sitting with me at the table as I pipe, fill, and embellish. And she’s right there at the dessert table during my party nodding as folks take a cookie, and then another, and then another. And finally, she’s at the door with me, waving good-bye to our friends as they leave our house, carrying with them into the holiday and a world that isn’t always the best place, all of the love and strength that was baked into each and every cookie this Christmas an in Christmas’ past.

12 Days of Sharing

My grandmother was an elementary school teacher and I think she would be very saddened to know that in the coming year nearly 17 million children in America will face hunger. They aren’t thinking about Christmas cookies or even Christmas gifts, but instead aren’t sure about where their next meal will come from. And while there are so many great causes asking for your time and money this year, I would ask you to consider what it would be like to be a child and not know when you’ll eat again.

As part of the Share Our Strength Share Your Season campaign, food bloggers from around the web are getting together to raise awareness and help fight childhood hunger. Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen is spearheading a virtual cookie swap from December 7 to December 18. With help from some well known bloggers including Jaden of Steamy Kitchen, Shauna of Gluten Free Girl, Jen from My Kitchen Addiction, Gina from Change Becomes Change, Michelle from What’s Cooking and Diana from A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa bloggers will give readers a gift of amazing cookie recipes. In return, we all hope you will consider doing what you can to help end childhood hunger.

And, to sweeten the pot a bit (pun intended), if you donate to the campaign you’ll be entered to win some pretty cool prizes provided by much-appreciated donors. It really is a win-win proposition all around. You get a bevy of great cookie ideas, you help end childhood hunger in our country, and you have a chance to win cool stuff.

And so, as promised, here is my first cookie recipe gift to you this holiday season: a recipe for cranberry palmiers. This is a collection of techniques and flavors inspired by three recipes from the Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Cookies magazine:

I love the way the palmier looks, it’s a nice twist on the traditional rolled cookie. The filling reminds me of the cranberry relish my family so enjoys at Thanksgiving, and the nutmeg and rum extract in the cookie dough make these not your average vanilla cookie

Recipe: Cranberry Palmiers

Details

  • Difficulty: Medium if you don’t work much with rolled cookie dough, easy if you do
  • Makes: 60 cookies
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes total in two 30 minute increments
  • Chill Time: 5 hours total
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes per batch

Ingredients

  • 1 c. butter at room temperature
  • 1 ½ c. sugar
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. rum or almond extract
  • 3 ¼ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 c. pecan pieces
  • ¼ c. packed brown sugar
  • Zest of one orange

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for 30 seconds to 1 minute on medium-high speed or until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Mix in the eggs and extract.
  4. Add the flour by the ½ cup until fully incorporated. You may have to finish the last bit of flour by hand depending on your mixer’s strength.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Form into squares that are approximately 6″ x 6″ x 2″, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour or until firm.
  6. While the dough is chilling, combine the cranberries, pecans, brown sugar, and orange zest in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Cover and refrigerate.
  7. Roll half of the chilled dough between two sheets of waxed paper to form at 12″ x 8″ rectangle.
  8. Spread half of the cranberry-nut filling over the dough, leaving about ½ inch border along each side.
  9. Roll each long side to the center, creating a neat spiral. Dab the seams where the two spirals meet with a little water to seal them.
  10. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  11. Wrap the rolls in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  12. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  13. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment or a silicone mat.
  14. Use a sharp knife to cut each roll into ¼ inch slices.
  15. Place the slices 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
  16. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown.
  17. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to rest on the pans for five minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Recipe for Success

  • This cookie dough is very soft and can become difficult to work with quickly, which is why the recipe requires two different chill periods. While this may take a bit of planning, these steps are important so don’t skip them. You’ll find that freshly-mixed dough is almost impossible to roll out or roll up, and logs that aren’t chilled won’t cut neatly or easily.
  • Forming the dough into squares before chilling the first time makes it easier to roll out evenly.
  • Work with one batch of dough or rolled cookies at a time and let the other stay in the refrigerator so it isn’t difficult to handle.
  • A ruler is a big help in cutting uniform slices. I put mine up against the dough and make marks every ¼ inch to use as slicing guides.
  • You can easily correct oddities in shape once you have the sliced cookies on the baking sheet and before you put them into the oven. A few nips and tucks can make a misshapen cookie right again.
  • These cookies will keep for 3 days at room temperature or 3 months in the freezer. Store them between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container.

Cranberries on Foodista Learn more about cranberries

3 Comments

  1. How lovely! I love that the recipe uses fresh cranberries. I just made something very similar called Cranberry Orange Spirals, but mine used dried cranberries. These look great!

  2. What gorgeous cookies! Wish I’d of thought to make palmiers this year!

  3. I wish I had heard about the cause sooner. Can’t ever do enough to help end hunger. Your cookies are beautiful and sound like they will taste like Christmas!

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