Spiced Cranberry Shortbread with Fudge Sauce

spiced cranberry shortbreadspiced cranberry shortbread christmas cookiesspiced cranberry shortbreadspiced cranberry shortbreadspiced cranberry shortbread with fudge saucespiced cranberry shortbreadIf you’re looking for a new twist on Christmas cookies, these are pretty wonderful: Shortbread spiced with crushed red pepper infused cranberries or tart cherries, and put together with cream cheese whipped filling and a fudge sauce drizzled over the top. So, so good. It’s a three-part recipe that looks intense but actually only takes about 45 min. to prep. The fudge sauce and whipped filling can even be made a little ahead of time if you’re pressed for time:

For the shortbread

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or cherries)
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  1. Combine cranberries and red pepper, cover in boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes to infuse the berries with the spice. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, cornstarch, salt and baking powder. Add butter and the soaked cranberries. Pulse until the dough clumps and then remove from processor. **if you don’t have a food processor, cut in the butter with two knifes moving criss-cross around the mixture until it begins to clump, it will still be very dry-looking**
  2. Press dough into a square-shape on a piece of parchment. Place another sheet of parchment over the dough and roll until you have a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. **If the dough is not clumping, press the dough back into a ball and chill in the refrigerator for 5 or so minutes. Repeat as many times as you need while rolling out the dough.** 
  3. Cut the dough into rectangles or circles to eventually form the top and bottom of a “sandwich.”
  4. Keeping the parchment on the bottom of the dough, place this sheet onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes at 325 degrees or until lightly golden.

For the filling

  • 12 cup whipping cream
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Combine whipping cream, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer until stiff peaks form.
  2. Spread onto the flat side of one, cooled, shortbread cookie. Top with another cookie to make a sandwich.

For the fudge sauce

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate
  1. Combine cream and syrup and cook over medium-high until hot
  2. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Allow to cool and thicken before dipping the shortbread cookies into the sauce.

This recipe as it is yields about 18 sandwiches. I ended up halving the recipe because you kind of need to eat everything the recipe makes in one day or else the shortbread will start to soften, especially with the whipped topping inside, so only make as many as you think you can consume before the day is done…if that means sitting up late to finish off the 18th sandwich, then go for the full recipe! But if you’re not that ambitious, halving it makes plenty.

original recipe via Better homes and gardens Nov. 2009

– <3 A.