Saturday, May 23, 2015

Short and Sweet Orange Cranberry Shortbread

There are cookbooks that are on my shelf which go unused for a long time and then I suddenly notice them and decide to make a recipe from them. That happened this week with a great little book Short and Sweet, by Melanie Barnard. I was looking for something else and spotted it, then fell in love with the shortbread cookie recipe.

The recipes are all pretty quick and many also have limited ingredients. The one I chose, Cranberry Orange Shortbread, met both of those criteria. Because you met the butter you can decide to make this at a moments softened, room temperature butter needed.  I melted the butter in a large microwave safe bowl and finished making the batter in that bowl, but the recipe actually calls for melting the butter in a saucepan and finishing the batter in that. Either way you have quick clean up as well as the quick recipe.

Freshly grated orange zest is aromatic so these cookies smelled nice even before they baked. I was worried that it would be difficult to remove them from the pan because it's un-greased and the cookies are fairly thin, but they came out in one piece and I used a long bread knife to cut them into squares.

These cookies are not too sweet, perfect by themselves, with coffee or tea, or even on the side of a dish of ice cream. The texture is crisp and a bit sandy as a shortbread should be. The total time from start to finish is less than an hour. Hard to do better than that for a nice fruity cookie, right?

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Bars
Makes 16 cookies

8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large microwave safe bowl (or in a medium sauce pan over medium heat if you prefer) melt the butter. Remove pan from microwave (or heat) and stir in the orange peel, cranberries, and powdered sugar. Then stir in the flour to make a stiff dough.

Spread and pat the dough into an uncreased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake unti the bars are golden and firm at the edges, about 20 minutes. Cool the pan on a rack for 2 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut into 16 squares. (After cookie had cooled 10 minutes with pan on a cooling rack, I used a small sharp knife run around the outer edge to loosen the whole mass of cookie, then turned it out, turned it right side up on a cutting board and then cut the bars with a long knife.) Let the bars cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing them with a small spatula.

The bars can be stored, tightly covered, for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.


  1. Next Sister Down11:52 AM

    I used to make cranberry-orange tea bread all the time, using the recipe on the Ocean Spray cranberry bag. Haven't made that in ages, but the flavor was so delightful that I can easily imagine it as shortbread cookies.

    I don't have any dried cranberries on hand, but I do have lots of dried cherries [thinks] and half a bag of chocolate chips. Hmmm ...

  2. Yes, dried cherries and chocolate chips, but keep the orange zest. Should be wonderful.

  3. I'm all for recipes that let me use up the over-buy of dried cranberries I inevitably do in the fall... I was just thinking that I needed to start making more shortbread/scone type things.