Friday, November 27, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Leftover Cranberry Sauce Cookies

For an updated (and much better!) version of this recipe, read my newer recipe post for Leftover Cranberry Sauce Cookies. My new cookies are pictured above. I call these Holiday Bliss Cookies. They are amazing--if I do say so myself!

To read my updated recipe post, click here. Included in the new post is a free, downloadable PDF that will show you step-by-step photos. 

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo

Now for the old post...

With refrigerators across the country packed with leftovers, even the most die-hard cooking enthusiasts are singing, "I deserve a break today!" Yes, folks, it's Black Friday, and most of us will be busy visiting with friends and relatives, recreating, rushing to join the mobs of people at the annual Black Friday shopping fest, or (frankly) recovering from Thursday.

I thought long and hard about my post today. Waste is something that bothers most everyone. We like to use all of the food that we purchase and prepare. I'm sure this morning a lot of you had a leftover pumpkin pie breakfast and are ready for that "Thanksgiving Dinner Sandwich" for lunch--you know the one, turkey, cold stuffing, a little bit of cranberry sauce--essentially everything you had on your plate yesterday piled between two slices of Italian bread or on a big, crusty roll.

As far as your Thanksgiving bird leftovers, I've already posted a recipe I love (and make every year) for "Leftover Turkey Pot Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust," and you can get that recipe by clicking here.

I considered the rest of our Thanksgiving dinner leftovers and decided to try a recipe with the leftover cranberry sauce. Every year I make it fresh from whole cranberries, sugar, and boiling water. We enjoy it on the turkey, but I usually end up dumping the remainders on Monday morning.
So I began to experiment with the "leftover cranberry sauce" and came up with these cookies. Most recipes for "cranberry cookies" simply add dried cranberries to the dough. Another incarnation treats the sauce like a spreadable layer of filling between a shortbread crust and a sweet crumb topping. But neither of those types of cookies is what I had in mind.
I wanted to create a cookie that used the kind of cranberry sauce we typically eat on Thanksgiving, the kind that turns into a fairly solid jelly or jam consistency overnight in the fridge. My post today is what I came up with. It's not bad...but I'm not completely happy with it yet. I'll continue to work on the recipe though and maybe by next year I'll have it perfected.

Cleo Coyle’s Leftover Cranberry Sauce Cookies (A Work in Progress!)
Servings: About 4 dozenIngredients:
1 cup standard, salted butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar
3/4 cup cranberry sauce (make fresh from whole cranberries or use canned)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup granulated white sugar (for rolling dough balls before baking)

Step 1 - Mix Dough: Cream together softened butter and powdered sugar. Add cranberry sauce, egg, vanilla, ground ginger, and beat until smooth. Measure in sifted flour, salt, and then mix only enough to create a smooth dough. Do not over mix or you’ll create gluten and your cookies will be tough instead of tender. (Here's a photo of the dough...isn't it pretty? I just love the color of these cookies, so festive!)

Step 2 – Chill, Roll, and Press: Chill dough in fridge for 30 minutes to blend flavors and allow sticky dough to harden enough to work with. Using clean hands, roll dough into 1-inch balls, roll in a bowl of granulated sugar, place on prepared baking sheet (greased, lined, or sprayed with cooking spray to prevent sticking). Flatten little dough balls with bottom of a clean glass that’s been dipped in the sugar bowl. Dip the glass after each pressing to prevent dough balls from sticking to your glass. If you’re having trouble with sticking, your dough is too warm. Chill it in the fridge for fifteen to twenty minutes and try again. (Below is a photo of the roll and press process using the bottom of a glass. This will give you a rustic cookie. For a more finished appearance, you can always roll the dough out on a floured surface with a rolling pin and cut neatly with cookie cutters. But this method is fast and fun, especially when baking with kids.)

Step 3 – Bake: Preheat oven 350 degrees and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and let cool on wire rack. (Here's photo of the finsished cookies. Their slightly pink color is very pretty and they taste okay, but I'm not completely happy with this recipe yet. I'll just have to keep working on it!)

I did and you can see the
results by clicking here!

Till next time,

~ Cleo Coyle
author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries

A Coffeehouse Mystery
Now a National Bestseller!

To find out more about the books in my
Coffeehouse Mystery series or
enter my weekly Free Coffee Drawing,
click this link to my virtual home at


  1. I really like this idea, Cleo! Cranberries are so delish--there's got to be a good way to incorporate them into cookies! I'm going to have to give this recipe a sure sounds good to me.


  2. Elizabeth/Riley - I think my next go-round with these babies will be to increase the vanilla, kill the egg and baking powder, and decrease the cranberries a bit more. Essentially, I'm going to go for more of a shortbread cookie. I'd also like to try making them as refrigerator cookies (rolling dough into log and slicing up evenly). I think a dozen cooks would come up with a dozen different ways to try improving on this.

    Have a great Thanksgiving weekend!
    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. Great idea! How about adding some orange zest and a few walnuts?


  4. You've made me want to experiment and make cranberry bread, like my yummy banana bread, but subbing with the sauce. We'll see. I'll report back. Cranberries require that extra sugar because of their zing.

  5. Molly - Very good ideas!

    Avery - Oooh, I like that idea. I'll stay tuned on that one.

    Have a great weekend!

  6. I love the way you're thinking! I have to say, my cranberry sauce was pretty rockin' this year. It'd be perfect in these.

    Also, my mom always flattened her cookies with a "special" glass that had a pretty pattern on the bottom. Now I'm wondering if she has it stashed away somewhere!

  7. Janel - Your mother had a very good idea there to use a glass with a pattern on the bottom to press her cookie balls flat. Next time I'm in a kitchenware store, guess what I'll be looking for?!! Thanks for that handy tip and have a great holiday weekend!


  8. Hi, I just made these w/o the egg and added 3 tsp of orange marmalade (with the rind), and they are delicious! Thanks for the jumping-off point! --random American baker in Tokyo