Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cookie #50 - New Jersey Cranberry Pinwheels

New Jersey isn't all about the shore, big hair and "the situation."  Not everyone GTL's.  New Jersey is a beautiful state.  When my husband and I were dating, we'd take long Sunday drives through Warren, Morris and Hunterdon counties taking in the beautiful scenery.  They don't call it the "Garden State" for nothing. 
Then there's beautiful Cape May with it's beautiful beach and historic Victorian homes. 
Then there's Atlantic City and of course the rest of the Jersey Shore.  When I was growing up, my family, like many other families in our area, always vacationed on the Jersey shore every summer.  Our destination was always Wildwood, but there's Ocean City, Long Beach Island, Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights.  I have many memories of the boardwalk and the beach.  The pizza and the saltwater taffy.  The ring of the bells in the arcade and the rapid "tick-tick-tick" of the prize wheels.  Oh, how I miss those summers. 
New Jersey is also known for it's cranberries, ranking third among all the states in cranberry production.  My favorite cranberry preparation, I'm sorry to say, is cranberry sauce.  In a can.  With the ridges from the can still on the cylinder sitting on a plate.  I love it.  I could eat it by the can.  My husband, not such a fan.  In fact, he never really had it growing up.  My mother-in-law now buys it special, just for me, at Thanksgiving and I think I'm the only one who actually eats it. 
These cookies use dried cranberries.  They're tart and sweet and chewy - such a different flavor from the loaf of cranberry gelatin.  The dried cranberries are mixed with some finely chopped almonds and a little orange zest and then rolled up in a rich butter cookie, sliced and baked until golden.  I just think these cookies are so pretty - before and after baking.  I could easily see these being added to my ever growing Christmas Cookie arsenal. 

New Jersey Cranberry Pinwheels

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries*
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 tbsp finely grated orange zest

Cream butter and sugar.  Mix in egg and vanilla until well combined.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to butter/egg mixture and stir until just combined.  Form into a flattened disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes (or freeze for 15). 

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and milk.
In another small bowl, combine cranberries, almonds and orange zest.*

Remove dough from the fridge and sandwich the disc between two pieces of waxed paper.  Roll out into a rectangle, about 12" by 6" and 1/4" thick (the size of the rectangle isn't that important, but the thickness of the dough is).  Remove top piece of waxed paper and discard.  Spread brown sugar and milk mixture all over the dough, leaving a 1/4" border around all edges.  Spread cranberry nut mixture on top of the brown sugar and disperse across the dough evenly. 
Starting at one long side of the rectangle, roll the dough up, using the waxed paper to help you.  Once the roll is complete, use your finger to press the seam closed and wrap the log in the waxed paper.  Seal the ends tightly and transfer to the fridge for 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove roll from fridge and cut into 1/4" thick slices using a serrated knife.  If the cookies are crumbling under your knife, allow the roll to sit out for a few minutes before slicing.  The the roll is flattening under your knife, return the the fridge for a few more minutes to allow it to set a bit more. 
Place the slices about 1" apart on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-14 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.  Allow to set for a few minutes on the sheet pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*I initially tried adding the whole dried cranberries and nuts to the food processor to chop them.  The cranberries clumped around the blade and didn't get a good dice.  Instead, I chopped them by hand and pounded the nuts in a freezer bag until finely ground. 

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