What comes to mind when you think of your favorite Christmas memory? A special present you received as a child? A snowfall that arrived perfectly on Christmas Eve? Or some sort of amazing Christmas food that you make year after year? Well, this recipe for Cranberry Cherry Pinwheel Cookies has become the perfect Christmas memory for my family.
The practice of baking Christmas cookies has been a family tradition for many years. It was passed down to me from my mother who would make dozens of cookies, fudge, and special holiday treats, every year, throughout the month of December. Then she would wrap them up on a special Christmas plate and deliver them to all the neighbors.
For my husband, children and me, it meant baking Christmas cookies for the airmen who were standing at their post guarding the base or a special treat for the Wounded Warriors who were being attended to at the base hospital. And sometimes it meant a special surprise for the families whose loved ones were away at the holidays serving our country overseas and care packages for those that were deployed. It has become something we look forward to every Christmas season and will always be a part of our holiday traditions.
I hope with many of my mother’s traditional cookie recipes and new ones like these, I have carried on her legacy. Some of her favorites included my Grandmother Kluth’s Gingersnap Cookies, Peanut Blossoms, and Pecan Crescents. This recipe for Cranberry Cherry Pinwheel Cookies is definitely one of my own family’s favorites. It is the perfect blend of Christmas flavors that make for an unforgettable cookie. It starts with a simple dough, flecked with orange zest that is wrapped around a filling made with dried cranberries, cherry jam and the aromatic addition of cinnamon.
When you first look at this recipe, you may think it is too difficult. All it takes is a little bit of time and patience. Once you try the recipe, you will be pleasantly surprised at how simple it actually is. Then, you can let your home will be filled with the sweet smells of your new favorite Christmas cookie. I hope this recipe will become a holiday tradition in your own home. Merry Christmas and Happy Baking!
- 1½ cups dried cranberries
- 1 cup (12 oz) cherry preserves
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3⅓ cups all purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1¼ cups sugar
- Whites of 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1½ finely grated orange peel
- In a medium saucepan, place the dried cranberries, cherry preserves, water and cinnamon. Simmer on medium heat, stirring often, 5 to 8 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. (If mixture looks dry, stir in 1 tablespoon water)
- Scrape filling mixture into a food processor and process until smooth.
- Cover and refrigerate until cool. Bring to room temperature before using.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon to mix.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat remaining ingredients until fluffy.
- On low speed, add half of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated, then stir in remaining half until blended.
- Divide dough in half. Press each half into a rough square. Place each square between 2 pieces of 12 inch by 12 inch sheets of waxed paper. Roll each half into an 11 inch square. Stack the two dough squares on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Let softened slightly before using.
- Take each sheet of dough and remove the top sheet of waxed paper. Spread with half of the filling mixture. Make sure to spread the filling all the way to the edges of the dough except the edge furthest from you. Leave a half inch space on this edge.
- Tightly roll jelly-roll style, peeling off the second sheet of waxed paper as you roll.
- Wrap roll in waxed paper, twisting ends. Freeze on a cookie sheet for 2-3 hours or until firm.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray or parchment paper.
- Using a large, sharp knife, cut each roll into ¼ inch slices. Place pinwheels 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake for 10-13 minutes until lightly browned.
- Using a spatula, immediately transfer cookies to wire racks to cool. Store in airtight container for 10 days or freeze for up to 1 month.