38 Cranberry Desserts That Deserve a Spot on Your Holiday Table
Cranberry Curd Thumbprint Cookies
If you’re on Food Instagram, you might’ve seen the shiny, crimson cranberry curd tart of New York Times fame. That was the inspiration behind our recipe for cranberry curd thumbprint cookies, which are just as mouth-puckering and jewel-like, but with the portability of something bite-size. (Hello, holiday party.) The cookie base is butter, tender and flavored with orange zest for extra zing.
Since the holidays are busy even without a baking project, you can (and should!) make the curd a couple days ahead of time and refrigerate it until you’re ready to bake. The dough is stiff on purpose (this helps it hold the thumbprints while baking), so you may have to knead it by hand slightly before scooping. And while their namesake implies otherwise, we actually prefer to use a measuring spoon to indent the cookies for a uniform appearance (but shhh, don’t tell anyone).
One 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
Zest and juice (about ½ cup) of 1 orange
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of ½ an orange
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1. Make the Cranberry Curd: In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, orange zest and juice, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and softened, 10 to 12 minutes. (If you’re using frozen cranberries, cook until the liquid slightly reduced, 8 to 10 minutes.)
2. With a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl, strain the cranberry mixture, pressing the sauce through with a rubber spatula. Discard the solids; whisk the butter into the warm liquid.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. Slowly whisk about 1 cup of the warm cranberry mixture into the eggs to temper them (this prevents the eggs from scrambling), then return this mixture to the remaining cranberry liquid and whisk to combine.
4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd bubbles and thickens slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface. The curd can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. When ready to use, transfer to a pastry bag or Ziploc bag with one corner snipped.
5. Make the Cookies: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar, salt, orange zest and vanilla on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the flour until a dough forms, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to medium. (In order to hold the thumbprint shape, the dough is stiff; you may need to knead it by hand a few times to bring it together.)
7. Using a small cookie scoop or your hands, roll the dough into approximately 1-inch balls and arrange them on the baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 minutes, then, using a ½-teaspoon measuring spoon (or your thumb), make an indentation in each cookie.
8. Pipe some of the cranberry curd into each cookie indentation, then return to the oven until the curd is set and the cookies are slightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes more. Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.