Dried tart cherry rum orange shortbread cookies ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

15 December 2013

Dried tart cherry rum orange shortbread cookies

Are you ready to descend into the holiday cookie vortex? I mean, the entire foodblogging population seems to be there already, wildly waving quarter sheet pans and spatulas and sporting an amazing array of holiday aprons as they spin through billowing gusts of flour and sugar. Let's go!

First on the agenda: dried tart cherry rum orange shortbread cookies. Super festive!

I have a taste for teeny tiny cookies, and also for homemade slice-and-bakes. So what did I do? I made a simple shortbread dough and mixed it up with fresh orange zest and dried tart cherries soaked in rum. I made the dough into four long, thin rolls, squared them off (just for a change--although round cookies are probably technically superior since they don't have any corners sticking out for accidental burning), let them chill, and cut them into a plethora of little squares. Then I baked them and cooled them and wow! Tender, fruit-filled cookies for all!

I made these for our annual knitters' cookie exchange, which meant I needed a whole lot of cookies to divide up and distribute. One batch of dough made roughly 180 tiny cookies. Perfect! If you make bigger rolls of dough, you will get fewer cookies, but it's still going to be the same amount of overall goodness, so hey.

I actually only had to bake half the dough to get a full complement of cookies for all; the other half is still hanging out in our fridge, waiting for future cookie-baking endeavors (i.e. for us to eat all the other cookies I brought home from said exchange). This brings us to another selling point: you can make up a couple rolls of dough, refrigerate or freeze them, and bake whenever you so desire. Super convenient for those late-night cookie impulses.

Also, the leftover rum that the cherries didn't soak up? HIGHLY recommended. There was only a tiny bit left in my pan, but it was amazing: almost like a cherry-flavored port. I'm definitely going to experiment with infusing a batch of dried tart cherry rum now.

Dried tart cherry rum orange shortbread cookies

Adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches' cranberry rum shortbread cookies.

1 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup plain old white rum
1 cup softened butter
zest of one orange
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Start by finely chopping your cherries. This will be especially important if you want to make tiny cookies; big chunks of cherry tended to encourage crumbling in the finished product. You can avoid that by chopping your cherries now. The smaller your cookies, the tinier your cherry pieces should be for overall physical stability. My cherries were too big. Take note!

Put your cherries and your rum in a small saucepan. Bring the pan to a boil, lid, and turn off the heat. Let the cherries soak up all the rummy goodness for at least half an hour.

To make the dough, cream together your butter, orange zest, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Sift the remaining dry ingredients together in another bowl (I actually did the separate dry mixture this time! A culinary first). Add the dry mix to the wet in batches, beating well with a wooden spoon or the implement of your choice. You may need to get in there and use your hands with the last batch of dry ingredients. Add the drained cherries and mix or knead to distribute them throughout the dough.

Separate your dough into four equal parts. Form each part into a roll, wrap in plastic wrap or foil, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. At this point you can also chuck a roll or two in the freezer to save for later instant-cookie baking.

To bake, preheat your oven to 375F. Cut a roll or two of your dough into quarter-inch slices and arrange them on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for about ten minutes, checking a bit earlier if you're making particularly tiny cookies. Your cookies are done when they are set and have turned lightly golden around the edges. Let cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to a rack.

Eat with tea, coffee, or the proverbial nog. Or pack your cookies into bags and send them home with all your friends! It's all good.

What kind of cookies are you baking this holiday season?


Michelle said...

The blogging world has totally exploded with cookies, and I'm failing miserably at keeping up. Cookies haven't even crept into my mind yet.

Shortbread are my some of my favorites, though! Rum soaked cherries sound like a wonderful choice. These remind me of something that you could totally eat with a cheese board of some kind.

Eileen said...

Ooh, you could absolutely serve these with a cheese board! They aren't all that sweet, and they definitely have that intense dried fruit punch that goes so well with cheese. Yay!

Catherine said...

I don't have a holiday apron! ;) Can I still bake cookies??

P.S. Yours look wonderful! I have my plan for my baking marathon planned for Saturday . . . .

Erin @ The Speckled Palate said...

GAH. These cookies are SO CUTE, Eileen, and I bet they taste divine, too. I mean, how could they not with all the listed ingredients?

Hooray for the vortex of holiday cookies, green and red aprons and general craziness this time of year!

Caz said...

What a fantastic idea to infuse the cherries with rum. I bet the cookies taste amazing. I haven't even begun any Christmas baking yet. It's all going to be a bit last minute!

Joanne said...

I am definitely a recent convert to the slice and bake. They are so easy! And all to easy to just bake off every afternoon. Not that I will admit to knowing much about that. :P

Monet said...

Oooh!! I love slice and bake cookies. And I think that this flavor combo sounds heavenly. We're having a cookie exchange on Saturday and I'm still trying to settle on my contribution. These might win the contest! Thank you for sharing!