I tend to make more cranberry sauce than we actually eat on Thanksgiving and the obligatory left-over turkey sandwiches. I decided to re-purpose some for holiday cookies. I considered making a sandwich type cooking, taking inspiration from the recipe for Smoked Almond Shortbread with Orange Blossom and Raspberry Framboise from the book Cookie Love by Mindy Segal. I was feeling too lazy to go through with it, so turned to the thumbprint cookie chapter instead and merged the idea with the Peanut Butter Thumbprints with Strawberry Lambic Jam. I use smoked almonds to roll the dough in, and really like the savory note they add, but if you're feeling more traditional go with roasted and salted almonds instead. Also, if you don't have cranberry preserves, these would be great with raspberry or cherry jam as well. —hardlikearmour
unsalted butter, at room temperature
firmly packed light brown sugar
cup almond butter (smooth)
microplaned zest of one large orange (a generous 1/2 tablespoon)
teaspoon vanilla extract
large to extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 & 1/4
cups all-purpose flour
teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond brand)
Shaping and Filling
cup smoked and salted almonds, or roasted and salted almonds
cup cranberry preserves (a jammy or jelly version)
In This Recipe
Place butter in large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Cream butter with hand or stand mixer briefly on medium (stand) to medium-high (hand) speed. Add all but about 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar and all of the brown sugar. Beat until the mixture is aerated and has lightened in color, about 4 minutes, scraping the sides once in the process. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the peanut butter. Mix on medium until well combined, about 1 minute.
Combine the orange zest and remaining granulated sugar on a cutting board. Mince through the mixture with a chef's knife several times in several directions. Using the flat edge of the blade scrape the mixture back and forth until a rough paste forms. Scrape the paste into the mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and egg to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds, then scrape the bowl and mix an additional 10 to 20 seconds to combine. The mixture should be almost homogeneous.
Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk for about 30 seconds to thoroughly combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together, but still looks a bit rough, about 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix dough briefly on medium speed (8 to 10 seconds). Use a plastic bowl scraper or spatula to finish bringing the dough together.
Transfer the dough (it will be soft) onto a long sheet of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into a 6 by 8 rectangle. The more evenly shaped the rectangle, the more evenly shaped the cookies will be, so take some time to square up the edges. Wrap the dough tightly, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 7 days.
Heat oven to 350º F and line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper or silicon baking sheets.
In a food processor pulse the almonds until a fairly fine meal forms, and no large pieces remain. If you have a jelled cranberry sauce whisk it with a fork to break it up into a more jam-like substance.
Cut the dough into 5 even 8-inch long strips. Gently roll the strips back and forth to round out the edges. If they break apart a bit, just mash them back together. Sprinkle the almond meal over your work surface, and roll the strips in the meal to coat. Cut each strip into 8 even pieces, but leave the pieces in a log shape. Roll the log gently to round it again, then pull the pieces apart and place cut-side up on the prepared baking sheets in 5 rows of 4 per sheet.
With the tip of your index finger make a generous indentation into each cookie. Fill the indentations with the cranberry preserves.
Bake the cookies one pan at a time for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating the pan after 8 minutes. The cookies should be set around the edges with slight cracking on the tops. They will still be soft. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan.
Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 1 week.
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.