Baking in Amarillo: Cranberry Pecan Shortbread Cookies

We just moved to Amarillo!  This means a new town, new people, new house, new job, and most importantly…a new kitchen!  It took some time and some trial and error to get the kitchen organized.  I’m sure that you can identify with the importance of placement in a kitchen.  If your baking utensils, ingredients, pans, etc. are not in an easily accessible and logical place, then it makes for a very frustrating and unenjoyable time in the kitchen.  I finally got a chance to bake the other day.  Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we have a gas oven now.  It seems to bake more evenly than my electric oven.  So far I am liking the gas.

I wanted to bake something that really said “Amarillo”!  So, I googled “Amarillo cookies” and didn’t really end up with anything impressive or distinctly Amarillo.  Now that I’m writing this I’m thinking that Cowboy cookies would have been a good choice, or maybe something that resembles cow poo to pay tribute to the numerous stockyards in this area. 


I came across an article in the Amarillo Globe News from this past December.  In the 2008 Cookie Contest, the cookie I decided to make placed 1st!  The recipe for Cranberry Pistachio Cookies can be found here.  Here are the changes I made.

  1. I replaced the pistachios with an equal amount of chopped pecans.
  2.  I opted not to roll the dough into logs.  I just pressed all the dough into a greased 11×7 jelly roll pan.  I chilled it in the fridge for 2 hours, then cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch squares and baked them for the same amount of time.

I used almond bark to dip some of the cookies and drizzled the rest.  Next time I would drizzle all of them.  Dipping the cookies created a thick coating that distracted from the cookie flavor.  The cookie itself is not too sweet.  The texture is very similar to shortbread.  The tartness of the cranberry creates a nice flavor contrast.



Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

First Place Winner


3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried cranberries (or any dried fruit)

3/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachio nuts (or any nuts)

2-3 squares almond bark candy coating

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder and slat; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in fruit and nuts. Shape into 2″ logs; wrap in waxed paper then place in an air tight container. Chill for one hour or until firm.

Slice dough into 1/2″ cookies; place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake! Cool on wire racks. Melt candy coating in microwave proof cup; dip end of each cookie to evenly coat. Let harden on wire rack.