If that name sounds a little confusing, I’m with you. The truth is, this recipe is a combination of two of my favorites – buttery shortbread and soft, chewy sugar cookies. And you know what? It works. It has all of the glorious flavor of butter shortbread with the soft chewy texture of a good sugar cookie. Throw in some dried cranberries and some toasted pecans, and you have what I’m calling Cranberry Pecan Shortbread Blondies. Works for me!
Here’s how to make them for your family:
2 sticks (8 ozs.) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 extra-large or jumbo egg
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 cup pecans, toasted & finely chopped
1/3 cup turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top
Pre-heat your oven to 350F, then line a 13″ x 9″ baking pan with parchment paper. I like to leave some hanging over each side, making a sling which allows the cooled cookies to be removed from the pan more easily. Set the pan aside.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the softened butter and granulated sugar; beat slowly until combined, then turn to med-high speed and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the salt and flour. Stir in the cranberries and nuts and toss to coat them with flour.
Turning the mixer to low speed, add the flour mixture and beat just until well combined. The dough will be thick. Using a spatula, turn the dough out into the baking pan. Using another sheet of parchment or waxed paper, cover the dough and using your hands, press the dough out to each side, smoothing it into a uniform thickness (mine was about 3/4″ thick). Once your cookie dough is smooth and even, remove the top sheet of paper.
Using a bench scraper or metal spatula (I grew up calling them pancake flippers), score the dough as you would for shortbread. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly over the cookie dough. Place on the middle rack in the center of your oven and bake 30-40 minutes, or until the cookies have that fabulous browned butter smell and are a light golden brown. When I bake buttery shortbread cookies, I always know when they’re done by the smell. If you know what I’m talking about, raise your hand. It’s such a heavenly aroma.
Once done, remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Using the same bench scraper or spatula, cut the cookies along the score lines. Now all you need is a cold glass of milk or a hot cup of tea. Then treat yourself. Sit back and savor the contrast of flavors and textures – tart cranberries paired with buttery shortbread; soft chewy crumb with a crunchy sugar topping. Maybe I’m playing favorites, but I think this cookie has it all.
I apologize for all the sugar on the blog for the past week. I promise I’ll make it up to you next week with something savory or a craft tutorial. Deal? Awesome!