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Spiced Cranberry
 
Note: The source of this recipe, epicurious.com, makes the buttercream optional for use in cookie sandwiches. They must be refrigerated
for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. If you are cookie novices like me, you will appreciate the neat trick for making dough logs. Untested in
Planter kitchen and it sounds complicated, but it sounds well worth the effort.  And, they keep for up to one week in an air-tight 
container or frozen for up to one month, a boon during hectic holiday season.


for the cookies:
* 3/4 cup picked-over fresh (or defrosted) cranberries, washed and patted dry
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (colored part of the skin only)
* Scant 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (may substitute 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice)
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2/3 cup confectionersí sugar
* 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened yet still cool, cut into chunks
* 2 1/3 cups flour, plus more as needed
* 3 tablespoons defrosted orange juice concentrate
* Coarse crystal sugar, turbinado sugar or granulated sugar, or about 1/4 cup finely
 chopped pistachio nuts or almonds for garnish (optional)

 * Pulse cranberries and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar in a food processor till the cranberries are chopped fairly fine. 
* Turn out the mixture into a large bowl and combine the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the orange zest,
cardamom, baking powder and salt in the processor. Process for 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to  scrape down the sides of the 
bowl as needed, until the zest is very fine. 
* Add the confectioners' sugar, butter pieces and 1 1/3 cups of the flour. Pulse until the butter 
is cut in and reduced to fine bits.
* Drizzle the orange juice concentrate over the mixture. Pulse just until the juice  concentrate is incorporated and the mixture 
just starts to come together, but not completely.
* Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the sugared, chopped cranberries; stir until well blended. 
* Sprinkle over the remaining 1 cup of flour. Stir lightly, lifting the mixture from the bottom. Knead in the remaining flour 
until all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated and the berries are evenly distributed. If the dough seems too wet to shape, work 
in up to 4 more tablespoons of flour.

* Divide the dough in half. Working on sheets of wax paper, shape each dough portion into a 10 1/2-inch log. Smooth and stretch out the middle of the logs so they are evenly thick 
and about 11 inches long. Roll up each log in the paper, twisting the paper ends to keep it closed. (For logs that hold their round shape during
chilling, slide each log into a discarded paper towel tube that has been slit lengthwise. Close the tubes with rubber bands or tape; date and label
them. Place in resealable plastic food storage bags.)

*Refrigerate the logs for at least 2 hours, or until very firm but not so hard that they are difficult to cut. Alternately, refrigerate for up to
3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Let refrigerated dough warm up until just barely soft enough to slice before baking (about
 10 minutes); transfer frozen dough to the refrigerator to defrost before using.

* Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line several large 
baking sheets with parchment paper or coat with nonstick cooking oil spray.

* Use a sharp knife to cut one of the logs crosswise into 30 slices of equal size; for 
evenly shaped slices, rotate the log a quarter-turn after each cut. Space them about 
2 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets. If desired, sprinkle the cookie tops with a 
little sugar or with pistachio nuts, gently patting them into surface.

* Bake (middle rack) one sheet at a time for 12 to 16 minutes or until almost firm when 
pressed in the center top and slightly browned at the edges. Transfer the sheet to a 
cooling rack; let stand until cooled to warm, then use a spatula to transfer the cookies
 to then wire rack to cool completely. Repeat to bake all of the dough (the second log).

for the buttercream:
* 2 1/2 cups confectionersí sugar
* 2 tablespoons defrosted orange juice concentrate, plus more as needed
* 1/8 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (no pith)
* 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft but not melted

Vigorously stir together the confectioners' sugar, orange juice concentrate, orange zest and butter to form a blended, smooth buttercream.
If it is too stiff to spread, gradually thin the mixture with more orange juice concentrate. Frost the top of each cookie; or invert half of the 
cookies and spread about 1 teaspoon of the buttercream on each one. Top with a plain cookie (top side  up) to form a cookie sandwich, gently
pressing until the buttercream appears almost at the edges.