Recipe: Cranberry Pecan Swirls

Why you should bake: Because this cookie’s striking good looks practically beg you to select it from a crowded platter. And the fresh cranberries and orange zest add a wonderfully tangy flavor pop.

Degree of difficulty: Relatively simple. Although it looks complicated, it’s your basic slice-and-bake, with a bit of easily managed rolling pin action.

What we didn’t tell you: Actually, we shared these tips in the original story, and they bear repeating. Baker Annette Poole uses a rolling pin to slightly press the filling into the dough to keep the cranberries and pecans from falling out of the cookie.

Before Poole freezes the dough, she gently imprints it with exact quarter-inch marks, using the edge of her Ekco pastry blender. "That way each cookie is the same size when I cut it," she said. Another tip: Substitute pistachios for pecans. It's a great flavor pairing, and a seasonally appropriate color combination.

Fun fact: This is a treat for cookie lovers who don’t like their cookies too sweet.


Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Note: This dough must be prepared in advance. This 2012 finalist is from Annette Poole of Prior Lake.

1 1/2 c. flour, plus extra for rolling dough

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. butter, at room temperature

3/4 c. sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 c. finely chopped fresh cranberries

1/2 c. ground pecans

1 tbsp. freshly grated orange zest

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract, 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 1 hour.

In a small bowl, combine cranberries, pecans and orange zest.

On a lightly floured work surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough to a 10-inch square. Sprinkle cranberry mixture over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border on two opposite sides. Roll dough, jelly-roll fashion, beginning at one of the borders and rolling towards the other border. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at least 8 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap dough logs and, using a sharp knife, trim off uneven ends. Cut dough into 1/4-inch thick slices and place cookies (flat side down) 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, 14 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.