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Cranberry Pistachio Shortbreads Recipe & Video

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I don't know who first thought of adding dried red cranberries and green pistachio nuts to a cookie dough but it was a brilliant idea. It makes us all look so clever during the Christmas season, serving a plate of red and green flecked shortbread cookies to match all our red and green decorations. As you may know, shortbreads are the quintessential Christmas cookie, starting out in Scotland as a Christmas and New Year's Eve (Hogmanay) treat. The Scots really got this cookie right, and we are only going to enhance it here with these buttery shortbreads by adding dried cranberries and crunchy pistachios.  

It is no surprise that shortbreads moved from being simply a Christmas cookie to a year round favorite. With their buttery flavor and crumbly texture, this cookie (biscuit) is hard to beat. All shortbreads, including these Cranberry Pistachio Shortbreads, have three main ingredients, butter, sugar, and flour. So with such few ingredients, we must try to use the best we can afford. First, a really great tasting shortbread needs a great tasting butter. Butter in the States is graded according to flavor, color, texture, aroma and body and one way to tell the quality of the butter is by the letter code or numerical number listed on the butter's package. The highest grade is AA (93 score), then A (92 score), followed by B (90 score). You can also find European style butters that have a higher fat content which you can use to make your shortbreads. Another important ingredient in shortbreads is vanilla extract so use a good quality "pure" vanilla extract. Stay away from the ones labeled "imitation" vanilla extracts as they are made with synthetic vanilla and leave a bitter aftertaste. As the name 'Cranberry Pistachio' Shortbreads implies, we are also adding dried cranberries and pistachio nuts to the shortbread batter. Dried cranberries are soft and chewy with a sweet tart flavor and they can be found in most grocery stores as well as health food stores. The pistachios I use are unsalted natural pistachios, not the ones that have been dyed red. I like to roughly chop both the dried cranberries and the pistachios so you get small chunks, not large pieces, in each cookie.

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Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry Pistachio Shortbreads: In a large bowl whisk the flour with the salt. 

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Fold in the chopped pistachios and dried cranberries. (Make sure that the nuts and cranberries are evenly distributed throughout the dough.)

Divide the dough in half. Smooth and shape each half of the dough into an evenly shaped rectangle that is about 8 inches (20 cm) long and 2.5 inches (7.5 cm) wide. Then wrap the shaped logs in plastic wrap or parchment or wax paper, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least three hours, or up to three days. (The logs can also be frozen for about two months. If freezing, it is best to defrost the logs in the refrigerator overnight before slicing and baking.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) with the rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a sharp knife, slice the logs into 1/4 - 1/3 inch (.5 cm) thick cookies. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes, or until the cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 48 shortbread cookies.

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Cranberry Pistachio Shortbreads:

2 1/3 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt

1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

1 cup (120 grams) unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped

1 cup (120 grams) dried cranberries, coarsely chopped (can use dried cherries)


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