So I have an extra post today to share something a little extra-special. Last year I came across a fun-sounding event called the great foodblogger cookie swap and was a bit disappointed when I found I was too late to take part. I thought maybe next year. Of course in the meantime I had totally forgotten about it. Thankfully, I had signed up for notifications and was excited when they came through around a month ago. I quickly got me head churning through cookie ideas and eventually settled on these cranberry-pomegranate-filled shortbread spiral cookies. I hope you and my fellow cookie-swap bloggers will enjoy as much as I did.
About the cookie swap
As I mentioned not long ago, I have never been to a cookie exchange party but am starting to get the hang of virtual ones now, at least. Let me tell you a little more about this one which takes it a step further. Basically each participant makes and sends three batches of cookies to other bloggers and receives three different batches themselves. All the matches are secret until you receive the cookies. Then all the recipes are posted the same day – today! As well as having fun and enjoying some cookies, the cookie swap participants and sponsors are also contributing to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer charity. I’m sure it will be done formally by the organizers, but thanks to Oxo, Dixie Crystals and Land O’ Lakes for sponsoring and sending lovely baking tools and vouchers – it’s much appreciated by me, for one, and I’m sure Cookies for Kids a whole deal more.
I went for a shortbread variation since, after all, I am a Scot and that is our cookie of choice. These cranberry-pomegranate-filled shortbread spiral cookies take the rich butteriness of shortbread to an extra level of tastiness with a slight tang from the pomegranate and cranberry jam-like filling. The name might be a bit of a mouthful, but the cookies are a truly delicious mouthful you need to try.
Shortbread: a Scottish tradition
Shortbread is something we would always make for New Year both to enjoy on the night and to take ‘first footing’ in the coming days. It would normally be your regular plain version – why mess with a good thing – but sometimes if we didn’t manage to make enough, or just for variety, we’d enjoy a delicious ginger version that a local company made. I debated re-creating that but instead decided to play around with other seasonal ingredients and colors. I thought I’d try something a bit prettier than your average shortbread but without going down the food coloring route which isn’t really me. Shortbread spiral cookies were what I eventually came up with, and delicious they are too.
These shortbread cookies have a delicious tang from the flavorful ‘jam’ you make for the spiral. The overall cookie ‘tastes like Christmas’ as one of my taste-testing friends described it. You can make them in stages, as the jam will keep for a few days (in fact no doubt longer it just never got the chance) and you can chill the dough for a few hours rather than quickly freezing if you want to get it so far along and come back to it before baking. The smell as they cook is so inviting, it’s hard not to dive in the second they come out of the oven. They will keep fairly well for a few weeks in an airtight container, but I doubt you’ll have that problem. More likely you’ll need to get rolling and slicing again. These cranberry-pomegranate-filled shortbread spiral cookies are a mouthful you’ll be wanting again.
cranberry-pomegranate-filled shortbread spiral cookies
For the filling
- 1 cup cranberries fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup date pieces
- 2 tsp pomegranate molasses syrup
- 2 tbsp water
For the shortbread
- 4 oz unsalted butter 110g/1 stick, brought to room temperature and cut into cubes
- 2 oz sugar 55g, approx 1/4 cup - I used light brown but any relatively fine
- 4 oz all purpose flour 110g plain flour, approx 3/4 cup
- 2 oz cornstarch 55g cornflour, approx 1/3 cup
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- First make the filling by putting all the filling ingredients (cranberries, date pieces, pomegranate molasses and water) in a small pan. Heat over a medium-low heat and stir occasionally until the cranberries pop and break up and the mixture comes together as a jam. It will still be a little lumpy.
- Set aside to cool -it can be kept covered at room temperature or refrigerated for a couple days.
- When ready to make the shortbread, preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Cream the butter and sugar - you can use a hand blender or a 'proper' mixer, both will work, or do by hand (in effect mashing them together).
- Add flour and corn starch/cornflour and mix together but be careful not to overmix.
- Divide the mixture in two and roll out half the mixture on a surface floured with a little corn starch - it can be helpful to roll on a cookie sheet. Roll to around 1/4 inch/3-4mm thick, or thinner if you can, into a square or rectangular shape - you can push the sides in a little as rolling and roll a bit more to help get the shape.
- Carefully spread a very thin layer of the jam over the shortbread then roll from one side into a spiral, being careful to not have gaps as you roll and smoothing any cracks in the dough. Cover in plastic/cling film and either freeze for around 10-12min or chill in the fridge for a couple hours. Either way, when you go to cut it the dough should be firm and not squash. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Note - You may well not need all of the jam.
- After chilling, carefully slice the log of dough into relatively thin slices and place on a lined baking sheet.
- Bake for around 10-12min until just starting to brown. Allow to cool a minute before transferring to a cooling rack.