Crumbly, orange flavoured shortbread with soft red cranberries and crunchy green pistachios dipped in smooth dark or white chocolate, these Cranberry and Pistachio shortbreads are Christmas on a plate!🎄
My boys are all grown up now, but we all used to love making treats like shortbread at Christmas (although I won't mention the masterpiece gingerbread house that we spent all of Christmas Eve making one year only for the ceiling to then cave in!).
Shortbread is so easy and therefore perfect for little ones to make and they can be as creative as they choose with their topping and decorations! Plus they will no doubt love squidging the cranberries and nuts into the orange shortbread dough, great fun!
I hope you enjoy making these lovely, buttery Cranberry and Pistachio Shortbread cookies and if you leave one out for Santa remember the glass of milk too! Though, as I recall, he was more partial to a glass of sherry in our house … 🎄🎅🎄
Why make these cranberry and pistachio cookies?
Full of orange, cranberry and pistachio✔️
Soft, buttery shortbread✔️
Perfect Christmas treat✔️
Great for making with children✔️
Easy and quick make✔️
Perfect as a present✔️
See recipe card for quantities.
- Dried cranberries
- Pistachio nuts
- Dark and white chocolate
- Icing (confectioner's) sugar
- Unsalted butter
- Fresh orange juice
- Orange juice and zest
Beat your softened butter and sifted icing (confectioner's) sugar together until smooth.
Add your orange juice and orange zest and beat in.
Add your sifted flour and salt and beat on a low setting until just combined.
Tip in your chopped dried cranberries and chopped pistachio nuts and squidge them into the orange shortbread dough.
Bring the dough together into a ball, but do not knead it.
Lightly flour your work surface and roll the shortbread ball into a sausage shape, then cover it with cling film (plastic wrap).
Refrigerate for at least an hour and then cut the dough in half, then half again and then cut each quarter into 3 pieces to create 12 cookies.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the edges of the shortbread cookies are just beginning to turn golden, the base should also be golden.
Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet and then remove to a cooling rack to fully cool. Microwave your chocolate in blasts of 10-15 seconds, stirring in between, until melted.
Spread chocolate over half of the shortbread cookie allowing it to drip down the sides. Dip any uncovered areas into the chocolate to ensure it is all coated on that side. You can also drizzle chocolate too by dipping a spoon into the chocolate, holding it above the cookie and letting it drizzle down onto it. Decorate with chopped cranberries, pistachios and orange zest and leave to set on a cooling rack.
This recipe is very versatile, here are some suggestions:
- Plain shortbread: this recipe can be used without any flavourings other than a teaspoon of vanilla extract if you want just plain shortbread cookies.
- Lemon shortbread: replace the orange juice and zest with lemon juice and zest and dip the cookies into white icing. This can be made from sifted icing (confectioner's) sugar and just enough lemon juice to create a gloopy icing. Sprinkle with lemon zest to decorate.
- Almond shortbread cookies: replace the orange juice and zest with ¼ of a teaspoon of almond extract. Add chopped almonds to the cookies instead of cranberries and pistachios. Decorate with chocolate and toasted flaked almonds.
- Dried cherries and dark chocolate - to create black forest shortbread, omit the orange juice and zest from the recipe and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead. Add chopped dried cherries then dip the baked cookies in melted dark chocolate.
These Cranberry and Pistachio Shortbread biscuits will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
Cranberry and pistachio shortbread cookie dough can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept refrigerated. Then cut into cookies and bake.
The shortbread cookies can be frozen once baked. You can also cut the shortbread dough into cookies and freeze it. Defrost it fully first before you bake it.
Top tips for Cranberry and Pistachio Shortbread
Tips for Preparing your Pistachios
- Try to use unsalted pistachio nuts if you can, but if not salted ones are fine.
- The pistachio nut skins will remove as you chop them.
- Discard the nut skins and any tiny pieces of nuts, you only want to weigh the actual pieces and use those.
Tips for your Orange shortbread
- Your butter needs to be soft (but not overly soft or runny) so that it easily blends with your icing (confectioner's) sugar and creates a soft dough.
- Your shortbread dough should be soft and pliable, if too soft add a little more flour, if too dry add a little more orange juice.
- If your shortbread cookies warm up once they've been cut out, pop them back into your fridge to set for 10 minutes before baking.
- Your shortbread cookies need to be flat, so if they rise up a little during baking simply take something like a small palette knife or a butter knife and, very gently, flatten the cooked back down. You will need to do this as soon as they come out of the oven whilst they’re still soft and pliable.
- If you need to reshape your cookies because they have spread out a little at the base during baking, then as soon as they come out of the oven, take an 8 or 9 cm sized pastry cutter and place it over the cookie then twizzle it around so that the cookie is twizzled around inside of the cutter, the edges will then we flatten as they bump against the sides.
Shortbread made with icing (confectioners) sugar gives it a soft, crumbly texture. It is far softer and crumblier than shortbread made with granulated sugar.
As with most cookies, the secret to ensuring that they do not spread is to bake them when they are cold. This sets the butter inside of the cookie meaning it does not melt as quickly and thus the cookie retains its shape.
If you enjoyed this recipe then you may like to try one of the other recipes on Ella's Better Bakes. In particular, the Apple and Oat Cookies, trust me they are to die for.
Cranberry and Pistachio Shortbread
Here's what you'll need...
- Hand or stand mixer with beaters or paddle attachment fitted
- Large baking sheet preferably heavy based
- Butter knife or small spatula
- 2 Microwavable bowls
- Cling firm (plastic wrap)
Ingredients you'll need...
Cranberry and Pistachio Shortbread
- 225 g Unsalted butter softened (1 Cup)
- 90 g Icing (confectioner's) sugar sifted (¾ Cup)
- 270 g Plain (all-purpose) flour (2 Cup)
- ½ teaspoon Fine salt
- 2 teaspoon Fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoon Orange zest
- 100 g Dried cranberries cut in half (⅔ Cup)
- 100 g Pistachio nuts - shelled weight shelled and cut into quarters (⅔ Cup)
- 2 tablespoon Dried cranberries chopped into quarters
- 2 tablespoon Pistachios shelled and chopped into very small pieces
- 80 g Dark chocolate chopped into small pieces (¼ Cup)
- 80 g White chocolate chopped into small pieces (¼ Cup)
- 2 teaspoon Orange zest
Here's what we do...
Cranberry and Pistachios Shortbread
- If using a hand mixer affix the beaters, if using a stand mixer affix the paddle attachment and then beat your softened butter a few times to ensure it is adequately soft, if it no longer sticks around the beater/paddle attachment then it is ready.
- Tip in your sifted icing (confectioner's) sugar and beat, starting on a low setting and then moving up to medium-high, until smooth. This can take 1-2 minutes. Wipe down your bowl intermittently with your spatula to ensure everything is mixed equally.
- Add your orange juice and zest and beat in just until incorporated.
- Sift your flour and salt together, then add to your beaten butter and sugar mixture and beat on a low setting until just incorporated. The mixture will be lumpy and doughy.
- Add your chopped cranberries and chopped pistachios, mix them in with your hands, squidging them into the dough, but be careful not to overwork the dough or your shortbread will be tough.
- Tip the shortbread dough out onto your work surface and then bring it together into a ball, but do not knead it. Roll the dough out into a sausage shape 21 centimetres long, you may find it easier to add a little flour to your work surface if the dough sticks. Make sure the ends are nice and flat.
- Wrap your shortbread sausage in cling film (plastic wrap) and refrigerate for at least an hour, this resets the butter and ensures your shortbread does not flatten and spread when baking. The dough will keep for up to 3 days refrigerated if necessary, or an can be frozen and then defrosted before baking.
- Heat your oven to 150°C Fan/170°C/340°F/Gas mark 3.
- Line your baking sheet with a sheet of greaseproof (parchment) paper.
- Unwrap your shortbread sausage and cut it in half and then half again, then cut each quarter into 3, giving you 12 cookies in total.
- Place your cookies onto your baking tray. If they have warmed up a little pop them back in the fridge to reset, baking when they are stone cold is vital to ensure they keep their shape.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the rim of the shortbread is just starting to turn golden and the base is also lightly golden.
- Leave to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and then remove the cookies to a cooling rack to fully cool before decorating.
Cranberry and Pistachios Shortbread Decoration
- Add your dark chocolate to one of your microwavable bowls and your white chocolate to your other microwavable bowl.
- Microwavable each in bouts of 10-15 seconds, stirring in-between, until fully melted. Be extra careful when melting the white chocolate as it burns easily.
- Take a teaspoon of melted chocolate and spread it over half the top of a shortbread cookie, allowing it to drip down the sides, dip the side of the cookie into the chocolate if any areas are still not covered.
- Place on your cooling rack to allow the chocolate to drip off and immediately sprinkle over some chopped pistachios, cranberries and lemon zest, then leave to fully set.
- Enjoy and Merry Christmas! 🎄🎄🎄
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