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Shira's Cranberry Thumbprints

Orange-scented cranberries -- usually a seasonal relish -- get a spot on the dessert table in these two-bite cookies. The crunchy yellow cornmeal crust, brightened with orange zest, is a fitting match. Says Shira Bocar, "With the tart fruit, it makes a tasty little holiday package."

  • yield: Makes about 2 dozen

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Ingredients

For the Cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 large egg, separated

For the Filling

  • 4 ounces fresh cranberries (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup water, plus more if needed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 strip (2 inches) orange zest

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cookies: Whisk together flour, cornmeal, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and 1/4 cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add orange zest and egg yolk, and mix well. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.

  2. Step 2

    Lightly whisk egg white. Scoop 2 teaspoons dough, and roll into a ball. Dip into egg white, and roll in remaining 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar. Repeat with remaining dough; transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart, as you work. Gently press center of each ball with your thumb. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until pale golden, 15 to 17 minutes. Gently indent each cookie again using the handle end of a wooden spoon. Transfer sheets to wire racks, and let cool. (Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.)

  3. Step 3

    Meanwhile, make the filling: Bring cranberries, water, sugar, and orange zest to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer, gently mashing cranberries, until thick and jamlike, 5 to 6 minutes. (If mixture is too thick, add a little water to thin.) Transfer to a bowl, and let cool completely. (Filling can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

  4. Step 4

    Spoon a small amount of filling into each cookie indentation.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, December 2009

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Reviews (12)

  • 6 Dec, 2013

    These are wonderful! There texture reminds me of a shortbread. You have to have a gentle hand when measuring the flour. Don't scoop the flour with the measuring cup, lightly spoon it in. I have made these several times, and they always turn out great.

  • 6 Nov, 2013

    I read through the comments about the dough being dry and crumbly so when the directions said to "mix until it just comes together" I kept on going until the dough pulled away from the sides of the bowl and formed a ball. Longer than instructed, but this made the dough scoop out perfectly into balls using a #60 cookie scoop. I also used a very finely ground cornmeal and everyone here is pleased with the results!

  • 11 Dec, 2012

    The dough will come out dry or crumbly because of the cornmeal flour. The cornmeal must be mixed in with wheat flour so the gluten will hold the dough in a more consistent way. Otherwise, I look forward to baking this - looks scrumptious.

  • 7 Apr, 2011

    These have become another staple Christmas cookie! Yes, they are fragile and tend to crumble when you make your thumbprint. We added a tiny bit of water and squeezed very hard when forming the dough balls. Reshape the cookie gently if they crumble before baking. They have a great flavor and are worth tweaking!

  • 17 Dec, 2010

    I'm glad I looked at the comments and checked other cranberry thumbprint recipes. I saw the comment that said it wasn't orangey enough, so I added a tablespoon of orange zest to the cookie, and like... 4-5 strips of orange to the filling. To account for the dryness, I added an extra egg yolk to this recipe. It was still so dry when I formed them! However, the cookies are softer and the cranberry sets nicely the day after you bake them :)

  • 17 Dec, 2010

    I'm glad I looked at the comments and checked other cranberry thumbprint recipes. I saw the comment that said it wasn't orangey enough, so I added a tablespoon of orange zest to the cookie, and like... 4-5 strips of orange to the filling. To account for the dryness, I added an extra egg yolk to this recipe. Still dry, so you gotta pack it tight when you form them! However, the cookies are softer and the cranberry sets nicely the day after you bake them :)

  • 10 Dec, 2010

    Made these and agree that they are very delicate to make. The cookie needed more orange flavoring too. HOWEVER, the cranberry filling was AWESOME, and and we did end up eating all teh cookies despite them being hard.

  • 8 Dec, 2010

    I made these and threw away the entire batch. Something is wrong with the recipe and it should be re-tested by MSLO.

  • 7 Dec, 2010

    The dough is a bit crumbly, but if you scoop the dough with a spoon and press it in tightly against the side of the bowl it is much easier to work with. These take a little effort, but are worth it in the end. These are delicious!

  • 28 Nov, 2010

    These cookies may have tasted good, I don't know. They were so dry and crumbly it wasn't worth my time adding the filling. I'm trying to alter the recipe now to salvage the cranberry filling.

  • 25 Dec, 2009

    These cookies tasted fine, but looked horrible! The dough was too dry and difficult to roll into balls and make thumbprints without cracking all over the place. I've made better thumbprint cookies before. The filling was nice and festive though.

  • 24 Dec, 2009

    These are THE most delicious cookies! I made them earlier this month and have had to make several more batches b/c they disappear quickly! I tried to freeze them, but due to the filling - it is best to eat them soon after baking!