December 8, 2008

Cranberry Shortbread Squares

I've always had shortbread cookies during the holidays and loved them. As far back as I can remember as a child, my mother made them and squirted them out of the cookie press onto the baking sheet. (Sorry, that is the only word I could think of at the moment.) We'd pick out our favorite shapes like stars or Christmas trees and dye the dough red or green. I remember making Christmas trees one year and I put sprinkles that looked like little dots because they reminded me of little lights. That was the extent of my creativity.

This year I figured I'd try something different. I'm not passing up the usual shortbread cookies from the handy cookie press but these are delicious and different. I'm definitely adding them to my annual list of
goodies to make and share.

Cranberry Shortbread by you.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (using good, non-generic butter makes all the difference in taste)
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped dried cranberries or cherries (I used craisins and they were tasty)

**(Next time I plan to add about a 1/2 cup of white chocolate chunks or chips. Craisins and white chocolate go so well together.)

Heat oven to 325 degrees with a rack in center. Combine butter, powdered 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.

Spray an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan lightly with non-stick spray. Pat dough evenly into pan. Bake until just beginning to turn golden, about 20 minutes.

Place pan on cooling rack until cool enough to touch, about 20 minutes. Cut shortbread into small squares (about 2-inches). Run knife around pan edges to loosen and slide out gently. Or you can use a cookie cutter to cut out cookies in shapes. Cookies will keep for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Makes about 16 squares.

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