Thursday, December 31, 2009

happy new year!

It's New Year's Eve! Every year, December rolls to an end and New Year's Eve plans are the talk of the town. And then, in between hair of the dog mimosa's on New Year's day, everyone complains about how the night before didn't stack up to expectations. Sound familiar? I mean, New Year's Eve has such potential! Everything the night stands for - starting fresh, setting goals, LOTS of champagne - should make for an awesome party. But no matter how many sequin skirts or bottles of bubbly the night holds, it often ends in some kind of disappointment.

In an effort to curb the trend, I'm starting my baking resolutions early - and hoping the positivity flows into tonight :) I've had these icebox cookies on my list for a while but my freezer has been packed to the gills with no room to chill dough. So this week, while others de-cluttered apartments to welcome the new year, I de-cluttered my freezer. My dinners for the past 4 days: gardenburgers with steamed (frozen) broccoli, de-thawed bolognese sauce over pasta, and several unfulfilling Lean Cuisines. But a week of frozen meals was worth it for the space to chill these tasty shortbread cookies.

What's so great about icebox cookies is that you can freeze them -- and cut and bake as cookie cravings flare. Plus they're really pretty! I used salted pistachios and they cut the sweetness of the cranberries perfectly. Next time I'd double the recipe and make the bars of dough bigger for thicker cookies - just so there's more of them!

Happy New Year! I'm ushering it in with my best girlfriends at our favorite neighborhood bar, so I'm pretty sure NYE 2010 is gonna ROCK. Hope yours is filled with sparkles, flowing champagne, lots of laughs, and a sweet midnight kiss. Cya in the New Year!

Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest (I left this out but only because I didn't have an orange)
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup decorative sugar (I left this out, too)

Make dough:
Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps, then mix in pistachios and cranberries. Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces. Using a sheet of plastic wrap, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, about 2 hours.

Slice and bake cookies:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Brush egg over all 4 long sides of bars (but not ends). Sprinkle decorative sugar on a separate sheet of parchment paper or wax paper and press bars into sugar, coating well. (Whoops, forgot to do this, but it didn't affect the cookies at all!)

Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets.

Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are pale golden, 15-18 minutes total. Transfer cookies from parchment to racks using a slotted spatula and cool completely.

Note: Dough bars can be frozen, wrapped in plastic and then foil, for one month.


Becky said...

Love the idea and flavor combinations. Thanks for sharing!

Claire ( said...

mmm pistachios and cranberries! perfect :) Happy New Year!!

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