I adapted this amazing recipe from a site called From My Sweet Heart, only because I was too lazy to type out the recipe shared with me by the Tholen family. My generous and fun college roommate was the lucky recipient of a care package from her mom one year near finals, and it contained some of these… I don’t think I had ever eaten anything rivaling my love of chocolate before then, but we agreed that these cookies were IT. And still are. Thanks for that care package, Mama Tholen!!
I wanted to use only cranberry instead of the cherry preserves (which I did not have on hand, unlike the 4 pounds of fresh cranberries), so I made my own cranberry preserves to substitute (in case that suits your needs too). Pretty sure the jam recipe I used is here on Popsugar. I used some and put some up in jars some for the future. Tasty!
This recipe is so delicious and makes such pretty cookies, but it makes you work. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Cranberry Ribbon Icebox Cookies
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1 Tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 5 oz. of dried sweetened cranberries
- 1/2 cup of cherry jam or preserves (I subbed my own cranberry jam)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
For the cranberry filling:
Place the cranberries, jam and sugar in a food processor and process until it is coarsely pureed. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally. When the mix just comes to a boil, remove from heat and let cool. Stir in almond extract and cover and refrigerate for 1 hr. and is well chilled. This can be made up to 4 days in advance.
For the shortbread dough:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. With an electric mixer on medium, cream sugar and butter until smooth and well blended. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and beat till well blended. Add the flour mixture and beat until well incorporated.
Line a 4 ½ by 8 ½ inch bread pan with tin foil (I used parchment paper), leaving about a 3 inch overhang over the long sides of the pan. On top of the foil, repeat this procedure using 2 long pieces of plastic wrap.
Divide the dough into quarters. Gently roll one quarter of the dough into a shape that will roughly fit the bottom of the bread pan. Place the dough into the pan and pat it to spread as evenly as possible. Smooth 1/3 of the filling over the top of the dough. It will be stiff, but an offset spatula works best to push the jam evenly over the dough. Repeat the process in the same way with the remaining dough and jam. Wrap the plastic wrap over the top of the dough and place the pan in the freezer for at least 1 ½ hours or longer.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line your baking sheets with parchment or spray your pans with nonstick spray. Remove the dough from the pan using the tin foil ‘handles’. Remove the plastic wrap. Cut the loaf crosswise into thirds. Trim and cut the sides as necessary to make sure the blocks of dough are straight and not flared. Work with one block at a time, keeping the others in the fridge, and cut each third into ¼ inch thick slices. Wipe your knife clean between cuts if necessary. Place each slice on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time, in the upper third of your oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until just slightly brown at the edges. Immediately transfer to wire racks to cool.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for up to a month. (Yeah right! Good luck with them lasting that long!)
I tripled this recipe and layered it in two long pullman loaf pans. That worked marvelously for my big batch needs, for those of you who also mass produce Christmas treats!