When it comes to cookies, I've never really been for what the amateurs call "subtlety." I like 'em gooey. And overloaded. I want 'em hefty. And chewy. With at least one layer of ganache and two of caramel. And if you can squeeze some frosting in on top, well, I'm not going to complain.
Which is why I always find it so disappointing when someone offers me a "cookie," but then hands me a dry, crumbly wafer that might be described, if we're being especially generous, as "flour-flavored." If a cookie doesn't taste like something delicious, then what's the point? And that's why I'll always go for ooey-gooey over flat and crisp.
But it turns out that a surprising fact about gift-giving is that it's considered better etiquette to give what the receiver likes than what one would prefer oneself. No matter how confusing their preferences. This can be hard. Some people legitimately like dry, crisp cookies. So compromises have to be made.
These cookies buck the crisp-and-crumbly flavor trend: they're full of zingy [yes, I said zingy] flavor, thanks to orange peel and finely-chopped cranberries [be sure to chop finely; you don't want fruit chunks to get in the way of your nice, even slices]. They've got this awesome racing stripe, which really adds to the visual impact of a cookie box. And, with a minute or two's difference in cooking time, they can be either somewhat soft or nice and crisp. Your choice. It's your gift, after all. I'm told you should be allowed to enjoy it.
Orange Cranberry Slices
from Land O'Lakes
Unsalted Butter [ 1 cup, softened ]
Sugar [ 1 cup ]
Egg [ 1 ]
Milk [ 2 tablespoons ]
Vanilla Extract [ 1 teaspoon ]
All-Purpose Flour [ 3 cups ]
Baking Powder [ 1 1/2 teaspoons ]
Sweetened Dried Cranberries [ chopped, 2/3 cup ]
Pecans [ chopped, 1/4 cup ]
Red Food Color [ as desired ]
Freshly-Grated Orange Peel [ 2 teaspoons ]
1. With a mixer, at Medium speed, beat together Butter and Sugar until creamy.
2. Mix in Egg, Milk, and Vanilla Extract until thoroughly combined.
3. Reduce speed to Low and mix in Flour and Baking Powder. Mix until fully combined.
4. Divide Dough into 3 equal portions.
5. Place 2 portions back in mixer bowl.
6. Mix in Dried Cranberries, Pecans, and as much Red Food Color as desired, until fully combined. Set aside.
7. Mix Orange Peel into remaining portion of Dough.
8. Line an 8x4-inch loaf pan with several layers of plastic wrap [you'll want the extra structure when it's time to pull the dough out], leaving some wrap hanging off the sides to use as handles.
9. Press half of Cranberry Dough evenly into bottom of loaf pan.
10. Top Cranberry Dough with Orange Dough, pressing firmly.
11. Top Orange Dough with remaining Cranberry Dough, pressing firmly again.
12. Cover Dough with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until firm. This will take at least 4 hours.
13. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
14. Use excess plastic wrap to pull brick of Dough from loaf pan. Unwrap.
15. Cut Dough into 1/4-inch slices.
16. Cut each Slice into thirds. If desired, trim edges for extra obsessive-compulsive precision.
17. Place Slices on ungreased cookie sheets with about 2 inches of space between each cookie.
18. Bake until edges get the slightest hint of brown, 8-10 minutes.
Makes about 80 cookies.