There is this cookie that has been associated with holidays in my family forever. I can’t remember a Christmas when my mom didn’t make what she referred to as “Girl Scout Cookies.” The crazy thing is, there is nothing about these cookies that even closely resembles what we know now of as Girl Scout Cookies. The original recipe is from my Great Grandma, Grandma J., and I have seen iterations of it on the web all talking about how old it is. Maybe it is one of those recipes, like jello-cottage-cheese-canned fruit salad, that everyone’s great grandma has in her recipe book. (does anyone really like that salad? I think mine added walnuts AND mini marshmallows – YUM!)
I decided to update these a little for the holidays by switching out the raisins for cranberries and adding orange zest. A fun new twist on an old favorite.
First, mix together 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup shortening, and 1 cup sugar. (the original recipe called for all shortening or all margarine, but I just couldn’t do it.)
Next, add in 2 eggs, 2 T milk, 1 t vanilla, and 1/2 t almond extract. The best thing about these cookies is the almond!
In a separate bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 T baking powder, and 1 t salt. Add to the wet ingredients all at once and mix until just combined. The dough will be pretty sticky and rolls out best when chilled for 1-2 hours.
While the dough is chilling, take a medium saucepan and combine 2 T flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, the zest of a medium orange, and 1 cup chopped craisins. Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute or until thick. All you have to do now is keep yourself from eating it all while you wait for the cookie dough. (see those flecks of orange zest below? PURE MAGIC!)
When the dough has firmed up a bit, roll out 1/4 of the dough on a flat surface with a pretty good amount of flour. I think I used around 1/4-1/2 cup for the entire bowl of dough. You want it to retain it’s soft texture but you also have to be able to get the dough onto the cookie sheet. (Continue to add additional dough as you roll out more cookies…you will probably need more flour…these cookies seem to soak it up.)
Using a circle cookie cutter (or any other nesting set of cookie cutters that comes with multiple sizes), cut out your bottom pieces. Place 1 T of filling in the center of your cookie base and cover with another circle that has the center cut out, leaving space for the filling to show through. These gingerbread men would up the holiday ante a little bit. (not quite sure what happened to the pour cookie on the left…I think I was trying to pat down the top a bit too hard. There is not really a need to do that – they will adhere on their own while baking.)
Bake @ 375 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 1 minute and transfer to a cooling rack to until completely cool. You can top each cookie with a drizzle of powdered sugar, orange juice, almond and vanilla extracts like I did, or leave plain – they are wonderful either way. (storage tip – make sure to separate each layer of cookies with wax paper or parchment. The cranberries will make the layers stick together if stacked on top of one another.) These cookies are so unique and delicious! I hope you family enjoys them as much as mine! Merry Christmas and welcome to our family tradition!
Cranberry Filled Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 T milk
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
2 1/2 cup flour (plus more for rolling)
2 t. baking powder
1 t salt
Filling: 2 T flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, zest of 1 orange, 1 cup cranberries (chopped.)
Cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar. Add to it the eggs, milk, and extracts. Mix until completely incorporated. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Add all at once to the sugar/butter mixture and stir until combined. Chill 1-2 hours. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine filling ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick and set aside.
Once cookies are chilled and dough is malleable, roll out on a flat surface and use nesting cookie cutters to cut out a top and bottom. Place 1 T of the filling on top of each bottom cookie, covering it with the top cookie. Bake @ 375 for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet 1 minute and then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool!
alternate drizzle: combine 1 1/2-2 cups powdered sugar, 2-3 T orange juice, 1/2 t vanilla, and 1/4 t almond extract. You want it to drizzle and not frost the cookies.
What is your favorite family cookie recipe? Do you have a version of these cookies running around your family cookbook?