Christmas Pudding Cookies, or, I Am a Culinary Genius

On Wednesday, I made my Christmas puddings. I know it seems early to make Christmas anything, but you have to let Christmas puddings hang around for a while after you make them. Like, a couple of months. Also you have to stay on top of Christmas or it will kick your ass.

I always have to do a special trip to the bulk food store to buy all the preserved fruit that goes into Christmas pudding, and no matter how hard I try to buy the right amount, I always end up with piles of leftover raisins and candied peel and slivered almonds after the puddings are made. I don't know about you, but I don't have that much use for candied peel and slivered almonds in my day-to-day life. Usually they sit around until July and then I throw them out. This year I was determined to do better.

I tried to think of some context (besides Christmas pudding) in which candied peel, almonds and raisins aren't, well, kind of gross, and I kept coming back to shortbread cookies. I don't know if I've had shortbread cookies with all that stuff in them, or if I just made it up, but in my head it made sense. I couldn't find a recipe for exactly what I had in mind, but I found a Martha Stewart recipe for rum raisin shortbread cookies to get me started.

I used raisins instead of currants because raisins were what I had too much of (I managed to buy the exact right amount of currants). I used lemon zest instead of orange zest because that's what I had, and because there's lemon zest in my Christmas pudding. I substituted rum for the vanilla because I wanted to make them as rummy and Christmassy as possible, and instead of the shredded coconut I put in ¼ cup slivered almonds and ½ cup candied peel.

They turned out perfectly, just as I had imagined them. They're very Christmassy and rich; Christmas Pudding in cookie form. Here's the recipe:

Christmas Pudding Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients
  • ½ cup dark rum
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ½ pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup confectioners' sugar
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup chopped candied peel
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
Directions
  1. Combine rum and raisins; cover, and let stand at room temperature overnight. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon rum.
  2. Beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest with a mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add reserved rum, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and salt, and beat for 3 minutes. Stir in raisins, almonds and candied peel by hand.
  3. Form dough into 2 logs, each about 1 ½ inches in diameter; wrap in parchment, and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 3 days).
  4. Preheat oven to 325. Remove parchment. Slice logs into ¼-inch-thick rounds, and space about 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until pale golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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