Pretty much everybody? That’s what I thought.
I work at a university and even though no one has exactly voiced their need for a break, you can feel it. Everyone has started to move a little more slowly, people are getting that glazed look in their eyes that indicates visions of turkeys and pumpkin pies (or maybe this pie) dancing in their heads, and you know that every time they look at the clock they’re secretly thinking, “Really? We need to have classes the day before Thanksgiving? Let’s just call it quits the Friday before.”
I LOVE Thanksgiving. Always have. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we have always celebrated my birthday on Thanksgiving (with it falling on Thanksgiving every so often), but really, I think it probably has something more to do with the whole holiday-built-around-food thing. And even more to do with getting to see my family, sometimes after months of not having everyone in one place. It’s right up there with Christmas for me.
This year I was put in charge of desserts. Which is no minor assignment; for a small family, we can put away sweets with sprinter speed and marathoner endurance. Really, dessert-eating could be an Olympic sport for my family. Probably the only sport we would take home the gold medal in (unless you added napping…we’re pretty much experts at that, too).
Even though Christmas is my main cookie-making time of year, I wanted to make a batch of cookies for Thanksgiving, too – you know, for those moments mid-afternoon when you realize you’ve eaten half your weight in your aunt’s famous cheese balls and you should probably balance out your salt intake with a little sugar. Obviously.
I found this recipe on Pinterest a while ago and pinned it with Thanksgiving in mind (by the way, who doesn’t love Pinterest?! You should probably be following me). Cranberries are one of my favorite things this time of year. These cookies are a nice balance between cinnamon and cranberries; not overly sweet, not too tart. I will say that I found this dough rather difficult to work with; it was very soft, even after being chilled, and made rolling the cookies a bit of a challenge. I might fiddle with the recipe in the future to see if I can get similar flavors with a more sturdy dough. I would still give them a try, though – roll the dough out on a silicone baking mat or a piece of parchment paper and use that to help you create the pinwheels. They’re also great for holiday baking because you can assemble them ahead of time, throw them in the freezer, and slice and bake them at the last minute.
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ¾ cup water, divided
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla until throroughly combined. Add flour, salt and cinnamon and mix until dough forms. Divide dough in half and form into balls; wrap in plastic and flatten into discs. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
- While dough chills, combine cranberries, sugar and ½ cup of the water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until cranberries pop and mixture just comes to a boil. Remove from heat. (At this point I decided I wanted a smoother consistency, so I used a potato masher to smush any remaining whole cranberries.)
- In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together remaining ¼ cup water and cornstarch. Stir into hot cranberry mixture until thickened (I returned mine to medium-low heat for a few minutes until it reached my desired consistency). Add cinnamon and stir until combined. It smells like the holidays! Let filling cool completely, at least one hour.
- When dough is firm enough to work with and filling is cool, on a lightly floured surface roll one disk into a rectangle, approximately 12x10 inches. Spread with half of the cranberry mixture, leaving ½ inch border of dough around the edges.
- Starting at the long end of the rectangle, carefully roll the rectangle into a log (use a silicone baking mat or piece of parchment paper to help guide the dough, if possible). Pinch and seal ends; wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Repeat with other half of dough.
- Freeze for at least one day and up to two months. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a large, sharp knife, slice logs into ⅓ inch slices. Place on lined baking sheets and bake 12-15 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown. Cool 5-10 minutes on baking sheet and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.