I was a little skeptical about using sage in cookies at first. But I'd been extremely pleased with the lavender and rosemary in several recipes, and the fresh sage from one of my tester's gardens looked so gorgeous, I just had to try it.
The results were not merely good, but awesome! The combination of cranberries, orange, and sage smells and tastes spectacular, and as a bonus, the cookies are quite attractive. The complex, unusual citrus-herb taste definitely complements the cranberries, which contribute their usual color and zip.
2⁄3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves (stems removed)
Grated zest (orange part of the peel) from 1 large orange
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour, divided
3⁄4 cup (11⁄2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg, at room temperature and beaten with a fork
11⁄2 cups dried sweetened cranberries, coarsely chopped if very large
Orange-scented sugar (page333) or 1⁄4 cup chopped pistachios for garnish, optional
Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350°F. Lightly grease several baking sheets or coat with nonstick spray. Combine the sugar, sage, orange zest, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Process for 1 to 2 minutes or until the sage is chopped into very fine flecks. Add half the flour, stirring it in with a spoon until partially incorporated. Sprinkle the butter over the mixture. Process just until only fine bits of butter are visible. Drizzle the egg over the dough. Incorporate using about fifteen 1-second pulses, stopping and stirring to lift and fold in the dough on the bottom several times.
As soon as the dough begins to come together, turn it out onto a large sheet of wax paper or baking parchment. Sprinkle over and knead in the remaining flour and the cranberries just until the dough is thoroughly mixed. (If it is very soft, wrap the paper around it and refrigerate for about 10 minutes until firmer and easier to handle.)
Divide the dough into quarters. Divide each quarter into 8 equal balls, spacing about 21⁄2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Pat down with a greased palm until just flattened. If desired, sprinkle the tops with orange-scented sugar (or pistachios, if preferred); pat down to imbed.
Bake (middle rack) one sheet at a time 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned at the edges and the centers are almost firm with pressed. Let the pans cool on wire racks to firm up for 3 minutes. Transfer the cookies to racks using a wide spatula. Let cool.
Yield: Makes thirty-two 23⁄4-inch cookies
Storage: Store these, airtight, for up to 1 week. They can be frozen, airtight, for up to 1 month.
From Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett . Copyright 2012 by Nancy Baggett. Excerpted by permission of Wiley.