Pistachio Cherry Icebox Cookies

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In 2 short years, these have become one of my favorite Christmas cookies because they are both easy and delicious. The original recipe (from Gourmet magazine) calls for dried cranberries; I prefer dried cherries. They might also be good with chopped dried apricots, but you lose the holiday red and green of cherries and pistachios.

1 ½ cups flour
½  teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
½ cup shelled pistachios (not dyed red)
1/3 cup dried cherries
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup decorative sugar (preferably coarse)

Stir together flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter, granulated sugar and zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps; then mix pistachios and cherries. Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces. Using a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper as an aid, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap until very firm, at least 2 hours.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Brush egg all over 4 long sides of dough. Sprinkle decorative sugar on a separate sheet of parchment or wax paper and press sides of dough into the sugar, coating well. Slice dough crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices rotating dough after cutting to keep square shape.  (If dough gets too soft to slice, freeze dough briefly until firm.) Arrange cookies ½-inch apart on lined baking sheets. Bake cookies, switching positions of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total. Transfer cookies from cookie sheets to racks and cool completely. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

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