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When you have a neighbor as I do, one who is feisty, opinionated, hilariously blunt, and a great baker, you take what you get with a wry smile and thank the heavens she is a kick-ass baker. This is her Christmas shortbread recipe, which I have renamed, Fruit & neighbor doesn't want to be "tracked" on the internet, so we figured that title would be enough of a difference! ;)

You can substitute other dried fruits if you prefer like apricots, cranberries, and raisins.

Notes: Butter is unsalted.


Ingredients: 8 tbsp. softened butter, 6 tbsp. powdered sugar, half of the seeds from a vanilla bean pod (or 1/2 tsp. pure extract), 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. orange zest, 1/3 cup chopped dried cherries, 1/3 cup chopped dried blueberries, 1/3 cup chopped pistachios, 1/4 cup chopped pumpkin seeds.

Makes about 3 dozen.

1. Preheat oven to 350* and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In one large bowl, cream butter and sugar together using a hand mixer on medium speed. (Or use a stand mixer.) Add vanilla bean seeds and salt, mix again.

3. With the mixer on low, sprinkle in orange zest and flour, mix until just combined. Fold in dried fruits and nuts.

4. Roll dough into a log using a piece of plastic wrap. Press each side of the log to make a squared log if you like. Chill in the freezer for 20 minutes.

5. Slice the log into cookies, roughly 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until firm and lightly colored around the edges.

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