cranberry cornmeal biscuits
It's that time of year again when there is a good excuse to make time consuming fancy biscuits. I've pretty much stopped feeling sad about no longer making gorgeous European style biscuits with nut meal and masses of egg white. The shortbread style biscuit can be stretched in a number of interesting directions, and this one has become a favourite. The dried cranberries (or Craisins as they are sold as in the supermarket) are cooked with morello cherry jam and them pureed to form the fruit filling, which is tangy and deliciously chewy.
The origin of this biscuit is on the Martha Stewart site, where it is called Striped Icebox Cookie. Not a very prepossessing name, and I don't claim to have improved it much. It is fairly time consuming to make, but has the virtue that if you double the quantity you get twice as many biscuits for the same amount of work. My changes include removing the egg and substituting dried cranberries for dried sour cherries.
3/4 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
1/3 cup morello cherry jam
2 tbs water
Place ingredients in a small saucepan and gentle simmer for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool then coarsely puree.
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter
1 cup castor sugar
2 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla and mix in. Add remaining ingredients and mix by hand until a ball of dough forms. Divide the dough into 4 pieces (I did this with the scales and each piece was about 140g).
Roll each piece of dough into a rectangle 9cm x 23cm. I'd recommend drawing a rectangle on a piece of paper, then placing a piece of baking paper over this and rolled each piece out using the rectangle underneath as a guide. When the first piece of dough is rolled, lift it onto a tray with the baking paper underneath it and refrigerate while you roll the next piece of dough on another piece of baking paper. When the second piece of dough is the right shape put it in the fridge and pull the first piece out of the fridge, spread it with one third of the fruit filling. The second piece of dough can be put in place on top of the filling when it is firm enough to handle, carefully peeling away the layer of baking paper. Continue with the remaining dough and filling - the refrigeration makes it possible to spread the fairly stiff filling on what would otherwise be quite a soft dough.
Refrigerate for an hour, then trim the sides and cut the dough into two lengthwise (so that you have two pieces approximately4.5cm x 23cm. Slice into approximately 5mm thick rectangles, and place on non-stick baking paper covered trays, leaving about 20mm between each biscuit.
Bake in a 180 degrees C oven until they just start to change colour, about12-15 minutes. Store in an airtight container.