Makes 4 dozen cookies.
Taste Tip: This dough must be prepared in advance.
2½ cups flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups dried cranberries
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1½ cups water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt, and reserve.
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract and beat until thoroughly combined. Add egg and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine remaining ½ cup sugar, cranberries, orange zest, water and cornstarch, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured work surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough into 3-inch circles, placing cookies 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaing dough, gathering up scraps, re-rolling and cutting until all dough is used. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of cranberry mixture into center of each cookie. Fold edges of dough towards center, leaving most of cranberry mixture uncovered. Bake until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
2004 Finalist: Wendy Nickel of Kiester, Minnesota