Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cranberry Orange Cookies

Baking cookies for the boatyard crew has become an yearly tradition, whenever we’re hauled out or having work done. It's easy enough to do when we are up on the hard. 50 amp power is available, so the oven is functional and the fridge is running. The cabinets are well-stocked with staples, and several grocery stores are within walking distance.

OK, what’s the problem? It’s a time and scheduling issue… but that’s nothing new. I could haul supplies, baking sheets, etc. to the motel and bake there late at night. But instead I have been baking on board, in spare moments between projects and distractions. I’ve baked Chocolate Chip and Cowboy Cookies in the past weeks. What's next? Overnight Sticky Buns take two days and too much pre-planning; dainty girly cookies are not a great choice, so I turned to the computer for ideas.

Skimming through my recipe files I found a basic recipe for Slice and Bake Refrigerator Cookies, attributed to Dorie Greenspan and downloaded from a favorite website, SteamyKitchen.

Aa a bonus the recipe came with suggestions for a handful of add-ins to transform the basic cookie into something entirely new. I opted for the grated orange zest and chopped cranberry version - no contest, really since I already had clementines and cranberries on hand and could avoid running to the store… again.

The office staff at Discovery Harbour Marina enjoyed a plateful, and Dave and Ian, teak refinishers extraordinaire, had positive comments about another dozen or so. RL just smiled, and ate the rest himself. 

Slice and Bake Cookies

Adapted loosely from Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 50 cookies

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

My Add-in Items 
Grated zest of 2 oranges 
1/2 cup dried cranberries (finely chopped)

1. Put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in the egg yolks, followed by the salt and any dried fruits, zest, nuts or seeds. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until it disappears. It is better to underbeat than overbeat at this point. Turn the dough out onto a counter, gather it into a ball, and divide it in half. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

2. Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 1/4 inches (2.5 to 3.2 cm) thick. (Get the thickness right, and the length you end up with will be fine.) Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 2 hours. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.)
3. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. While the oven heats, roll cookie logs in sugar or any coatings of your choice. Then, using a sharp slender knife, slice each log into cookies about 1/3 inch thick. (Make the cookies thicker if you’d like; just bake them longer.) Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch space between them.

5. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.

Do ahead: Packed airtight, the cookies will keep for about 5 days at room temperature, or in the freezer for a month. 

Unbaked logs can be frozen for longer.

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