One November afternoon when our oldest daughter Charlotte was 3, we decided to call my Grampa while the girls and I were making these chocolate-dipped cranberry-orange cookies. Charlotte had too much dough in her mouth when she tried to wish him a happy Thanksgiving over the phone, and Grampa chuckled and said, “Oh, Little Honey, enjoy those cookies!”
Grampa passed that winter, and these cookies have now become a Thanksgiving staple at the farm. They always make me think of him, and they’re the only holiday cookies I regularly bake that aren’t from the recipe files of my grandma Honey–Grampa’s wife, whose real name was Charlotte. The recipe is based on one in the first Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, and it’s one that we sometimes made at the holidays while I was working there. The cookie is a shortbread with a twist, and keeps well–if you don’t eat them all at once!
Makes 4 dozen* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 1 cup sugar 2 large eggs, at room temperature 1 tablespoon orange zest 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 1/4 cup all purpose flour 1/2-1 cup sweetened dried cranberries 12 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate or white chocolate, melted *
In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar, and continue to beat until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Stir in the orange zest and the vanilla extract until well combined. Gradually add the flour until blended (the dough will be crumbly). Mix in the dried cranberries. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let soften for 5 minutes. Taking small pieces of the dough, roll them into balls and shape into 3-inch logs. Place logs on an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving an inch between cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
Spread a sheet of parchment or aluminum foil on a counter and smooth any creases. When cookies are cooled, dip them halfway in the chocolate, then place them on the foil until chocolate is set. When chocolate has hardened, peel the cookies off and serve.