Cranberry Clove Cookies

After each visit to see family for the holidays, my husband and I are ever grateful to head home with full bellies and a car packed with leftovers, from stuffing and gravy to containers of cranberry sauce. My soon-after-Thanksgiving tradition has become not one of shopping, nor of eating turkey sandwiches, but of transforming the leftovers into a holiday treat: spice cookies made with cranberry sauce.  [This post was originally published in the summer, when I found a can of cranberry in my cupboard. Original version follows.]

Bitten cranberry cookieI know what you’re thinking: Cranberry clove cookies in June? They sound so wintery!  And you’re right – there’s an abundance of dessert-potential in the fresh, seasonal produce right now; farmers markets are bustling with berries and fruits that simply taste like summer.  (I’ve been experimenting with them, trust me! Recipes coming soon.)  But when I found a can of cranberry sauce in the back of our cupboard the other day, I couldn’t help but think of making it into these fragrant, luscious cookies. I admit it: the cranberry sauce is a leftover we were sent home with at Thanksgiving or Christmastime, but the strange stuff lasts forever, and I surely won’t use it otherwise.  Besides, these cookies are delicious any time of year, with their spice and tang and sweetness.  Here’s how I made them.

Cranberry Clove Cookies (makes about 48)Filling the centers

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • Scant 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of one orange
  • 1/2 cup cranberry sauce

Preheat oven to 325 F. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and cloves. Add butter, mixing until dough holds together, then add orange zest and vanilla, mixing until evenly incorporated. Roll into balls Pushing centers inthat are a little smaller than a tablespoon’s worth of dough, placing at least 1½ inches apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Press an indentation  into the center of each ball using your index finger, almost to the bottom of the cookie, but not all the way through.

Freeze for 5-10 minutes, then fill indentations with cranberry sauce. (This is easiest by piping the sauce with a pastry bag or plastic bag with corner snipped off.)  Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown, like this:  Golden bottom

If desired, drizzle icing over the cookies once they’re cool. Gradually mix drops of orange juice over 1 cup powdered sugar, constantly mixing; stop adding juice when icing is the consistency of yogurt. Using a pastry bag or a fork, drizzle the icing in zig-zags  over the cooled cookies, then let icing dry for at least an hour.

With their shortbread-like dough, warm cloves and tangy cranberry, these cookies impart a decadent taste and aroma alike.  They are sure to fill your kitchen with a mouthwatering zesty scent, and your mouth and belly with utter deliciousness.  And if they remind you of winter holidays, well…why not use them as an excuse to celebrate a spiced-up summer?

Maybe next time… Nuts, chopped very finely, are a great addition to this cookie dough, and melted chocolate is as scrumptious a drizzle as the icing. This recipe is a great model for endless thumbprint-style cookies, many of which I’ll share in the future. You can simply replace the cranberry sauce with almost any thick jam, replace the cloves with another  spice, or replace the orange zest with another kind. Whatever you do, enjoy!

Filled dough, pre-baked

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20 Responses to Cranberry Clove Cookies

  1. Pingback: Introducing Cranberry Curd: Lemon Curd’s Comely Cousin | butter, sugar, flowers

  2. These are so beautiful and look so yummy! I wish I had a plate in front of me right now!

  3. That’s a really unique combination & I love these cookies. But what do you call that type of cookie itself – you know, regardless of the center filling? Is it a shortbread cookie?

    • Thanks, Diane! I think these cookies are usually called thumbprints and are usually bigger (to fit a thumbprint’s worth of filling!). I like mine smaller. And thumbprints often have eggs or milk in the dough, but mine are indeed more like shortbread: simpler and based on flour, sugar, and lots of butter!

  4. Reblogged this on butter, sugar, flowers and commented:

    I’m re-posting this recipe at this perfectly seasonal time. These cookies really taste like the holidays. Enjoy!

  5. Pingback: Pistachio Blackberry Spiral Cookies | butter, sugar, flowers

  6. Pingback: Pistachio Blackberry Sprial Cookies | butter, sugar, flowers

  7. I totally destroyed these cookies. 😉 I left out the zest and substituted the butter with oil (because I rarely bake with butter), but then I realized that there are no eggs—these cookies must have been relying on the butter to hold them together! Oh, dear! So I added an egg, and the texture was improved, although still grainier than I think it should have been. Oh, well. It still tasted good and looked okay! I used half cinnamon, half ginger for the spice and strawberry preserves for the filling. I also baked it at 375° for eight minutes because I didn’t have the patience anymore to cook them for as long as you say. 😀

    I’m guessing the lack of baking soda/powder was so that the filling wouldn’t end up all over the place due to an expanding cookie?

    • Thanks for telling me about this! Cinnamon, ginger, and strawberry sounds like a winning combination! You’re right that they rely on butter for structure; like traditional shortbread, there is no egg or baking soda/powder. If you want to skip the butter, I think it would work to use an oil that is solid at room temperature, like coconut or palm oil, and make sure to chill the cookies before baking. Thanks again for trying this!

  8. So how would it turn out if the zest was just omitted?

  9. katy says:

    I think this is one of the great things about living in the Bay Area–all the seasons blur together and a hot day can easily turn into a chilly evening meant for spicy things and hot drinks. I really like that your blog embraces the “mood” of our surroundings; who said we can’t have cranberries in June, after all? If I have to carry a cardigan, I’ll take cranberries, too. 🙂

    • I so appreciate your understanding, Katy! It can be tough to not feel pressured to solely bake seasonally when you live so close to Alice Waters and her restaurant. But as you point out, we often have all four seasons in one day, so why not embrace them?
      Many thanks, and very best wishes in Greece! (They were having Grecian day at Market Hall when I went there today; I thought of you and was compelled to tell you, then remembered that you are embarking on the real thing! Bon Voyage!)

  10. You’re right–that IS what I was thinking! But, they look lucious (and I’ll bet they’d make a great side to a bowl of berries! 😉 )

    • Thanks, Robin… and yes, berries are the greatest (in fact, they are so good on their own that I often find myself running out of them before I can turn them into dessert. It’s much healthier that way, but is surely an obstacle to my seasonal baking projects!)

  11. You make the prettiest cookies in the world! And I will take cranberries any time of year!

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