The Mama Bears Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Recipe ChristmasPinThis

 

Earlier this year we shared our favorite cookie recipe on the blog. It was Valentine’s Day and few things in this world embody the spirit of that particular holiday for kids more than, well, sugar.  So sugar ’em up we did with a batch of heart-shaped, chocolate and frosting covered confections. We opted to use our favorite shortbread cookies recipe because…shortbread. Buttery. Crumbly. Dunkable. Extremely versatile. Am I missing any other cookie hall-of-fame criteria? No, I didn’t think so either.

They’re basically perfect.

As you may remember from that earlier post, they’re also wonderful little reminders of one of our childhood favorites, so any occasion at all is reason enough to whip up a few. And trust me, we can always find an occasion! What was it this time? To be honest, it was nothing more than an impromptu morning together…that turned into an impromptu afternoon together with our hubbies…and which then spilled over into an equally impromptu evening together with all the kiddos as well! But how did cookies get thrown into the mix? Well let me just explain…

 

The Mama Bears Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Recipe ChristmasPinThis

 

Initially the morning started off pretty low-key. After drop off, we headed over to my place for some sister-time/shop talk. You know, those types of sister/best friend mornings that start off as a hangout session and then begin to evolve into something that looks like productivity but then reverse course and own up to what they really were all along…a simple sister/best friend hangout sesh? I’m sure you’re familiar with this phenomenon. But I digress. Back to what I was saying! Between fits of laughter interspersed with productive conversation we decided that a bit of coffee was definitely in order. Then, one (or possibly more) cup in, this ordinary coffee suddenly found itself deserving of something to dunk in it, which then led to…you guessed it.

These shortbread cookies, like all others, are born out of the same basic shortbread recipe known the world over. The only difference this time? An injection of Christmas feels by way of a handful of hazelnuts and a fistful of cranberries. Could you maybe use walnuts instead? Pistachios? Absolutely! And we have! These two perennial favorites just so happened to be what we had on hand at the moment and therefore, by way of default, were the lucky winners of this particular cookie fest.

 

The Mama Bears Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Recipe ChristmasPinThisThe Mama Bears Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Recipe ChristmasPinThis

The Mama Bears Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Recipe ChristmasPinThis

 

For the full shortbread recipe, check out our previous post here. There are only a few key differences between the two, both of which have to do with the short notice. First, if you keep your butter in the fridge you will have to take it out and let it soften a bit first. There is no way around this step. About twenty to thirty minutes is sufficient time. In a pinch you can try to nudge it along by rubbing it between your hands to warm it up. Whatever you do, however, do not melt it! The other big difference is the time you usually need to let the dough harden in the refrigerator before cutting and baking. To quicken the process we put the dough in the freezer for about fifteen minutes instead.

We used hazelnuts and dried cranberries, about a half cup of each, because we wanted to add a little more oomph to the cookies and also because ain’t nobody got time for frosting cookies when you’ve got a hankering that needs to be sated! The dried fruit and nuts always remind us of wintertime, in fact, we used them last winter to make both fruit and nut garlands and peanut butter and birdseed wildlife cakes for our local critters with the littles. Add more or less depending on your personal preference but just be sure to give them a rough chop before tossing them into the mixer at the very end to be folded in with the rest of the ingredients. When it’s all combined, simply turn it out onto a long piece of plastic wrap, shape, seal, and chill.

 

The Mama Bears Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Recipe ChristmasPinThisThe Mama Bears Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Recipe ChristmasPinThis

The Mama Bears Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Recipe ChristmasPinThisThe Mama Bears Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Recipe ChristmasPinThisThe Mama Bears Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Recipe ChristmasPinThis

 

We used a few of our Christmas-themed cookie cutters to finish up the job, threw those suckers into the oven, and then sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labor. I won’t go into detail here about how uncanny it was that both of our husbands just so happened to return from their respective leaf blowing and post office runs at the very moment the cookies came out of the oven. Suffice it to say, however, that our cookie quota that morning was reduced by about half each as a result.

I WILL mention though that we left hefty slabs of cookie dough in the fridge for later on when the kiddos were home so they could have some cookie making fun too. I mean, we’re not monsters! We’re just sisters who enjoy the simplicity of a few good guffaws around the table, good food, and good company. Especially during this time of year it’s not lost on us how fortunate we are to be living so close together in this wonderful place we now both call home, Long Island. We wish the same sort of simple pleasures and spontaneous fun for you and yours this holiday season and may these cookies bring some happy bellies and big ‘ol grins your way too!

 

The Mama Bears Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Recipe ChristmasPinThis

The Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThis

The Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThis

The Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThis

The Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThis

The Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThis

The Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThis

The Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThisThe Mama Bears Holidays in New York CityPinThis

 

Every year our holidays are never complete without a few jaunts into the big city for some added Christmas fun. Between the energy and lights of the Big Apple and the years and years of memories we run into around every corner, it’s just a tradition we can never do without. This year was certainly no exception! We have our list of regulars, sure, but we added a few new gems to the mix as well to shake things up a bit. Lucky for us we picked what turned out to be an unseasonably warm December day and hit the ground running with our littles in tow once again.

We started our day at the Winter Village at Bryant Park. We moseyed around checking out the shops and snacking on pickles (Pickle Me Pete’s!), macaroons, and hot chocolates before sitting down to watch the skaters for a bit. After a quick lunch at our favorite place in the area- Bill’s Bar & Burgers (their wings are amazing!!) we headed over to our next stop- Macy’s.

Now let me just start off by saying that Macy’s Santaland never disappoints. Never is the decor anything less than magical. Never are the elves anything less than funny and friendly, and NEVER is Santa anything less than, well, Santa. You can count on a jolly old fellow with a big round belly and a genuine cascading white beard on his smiling face to meet you each and every time with nothing but sweet words and a patient demeanor for the kiddos. You would think that these basic parameters would be hard to mess up, but I am confident that we’ve all seen our fair share of Santa meet-and-greet train wrecks, so trust me when I tell you that the Macy’s version is the real deal! It’s an oldie but goodie in our books and something we look forward to every year.

Next stop on the agenda was Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden to switch things up a bit. It was our first time here and we loved it! The storyline has an interesting twist and the children were hooked from the beginning. But we won’t spoil the surprise! We ended our evening at a special place that was new to us all- the Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center. For this time of year they put out a holiday pre-fixe menu- even one for the littles! Super excited, they told us days in advance what their selections would be- shrimp cocktail, lobster macaroni and cheese and vanilla ice cream pops! We adults opted instead for the signature crab cakes and braised beef short rib- all of which were absolutely delicious! Best of all, we got to enjoy this new vantage point from which to watch the skaters and the city’s iconic Christmas tree right outside the windows.

It truly is hard to believe that a city as bustling as New York could come even more alive during this time of year but it truly does. Everyone has their own unique ways of ringing in the season, traditions to relive anew and brand new experiences to savor. There are just so many ways to enjoy Christmastime in New York City both with and without kids, these are but a few. Our few. If you’ve got a few awesome ones yourself, share them, we’d love to hear all about them! Happiest of holidays, friends! We wish you and yours nothing but joy and laughs and most of all- fun!