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Gift desserts: Delicious bites

Dec 1st, 2014 | Category: Cooking

by Nancy Nelson

Everyone has favorite Christmas and holiday recipes they love to give as gifts or bring to a gathering, or have made for them! These recipes for cranberry-pistachio shortbread, gingerbread loaf with lemon buttercream, and eggnog fudge are a few of my favorites this season.

For a take on a holiday platter or Christmas party dish, slice the gingerbread loaf and cut into rounds using a cookie cutter (eat the small cut pieces along the way!), and serve with a dollop of buttercream in the middle for frosting. COURTESY PHOTO

For a take on a holiday platter or Christmas party dish, slice the gingerbread loaf and cut into rounds using a cookie cutter (eat the small cut pieces along the way!), and serve with a dollop of buttercream in the middle for frosting. COURTESY PHOTO

I use this shortbread recipe from the Joy of Baking website. It is the closest recipe I have found for a friend’s cookie I received as a gift years ago. She lost the exact recipe (or so she says!), and I tried a few to get close to it. This one was the winner. They are delicious little bites, and this recipe yields about 48 cookies.

The gingerbread loaf is moist and delicious (the applesauce and molasses work well together), and I especially enjoy the ratio of spices in this recipe. Often, a recipe calls for some ginger, cloves, cinnamon, etc. but you cannot taste the spices when baked. Not the case here.

The eggnog fudge is a real treat. I love eggnog and use it in everything from my morning coffee to Christmas cheesecake. This fudge is relatively easy to make, stores well and taste great. I once accidentally put in full cup of eggnog and they came out great. It took a little longer, but was delicious. So if you like eggnog, consider upping the ante.

Merry Christmas and enjoy cooking for your loves ones!

 

Cranberry pistachio shortbread

 

Ingredients 

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (unsalted pistachios, chopped

1 cup dried cranberries, chopped

 

Directions

In a large bowl whisk the flour with the salt. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth (about 1 – 2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy (about 3 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Fold in the chopped pistachios and dried cranberries. (Make sure that the nuts and cranberries are evenly distributed throughout the dough.)

Divide the dough in half. Place each half of dough on the center of a 14-inch length of parchment or wax paper. Smooth and shape the dough into an evenly shaped rectangle that is about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. Then thoroughly wrap the shaped logs in the parchment or wax paper, twists the ends of the paper to seal the logs, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a thin bladed knife, slice the logs into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick cookies. Place the cookies on the sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until the cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Source: JoyofBaking.com

 

Gingerbread loaf with lemon buttercream

 

Ingredients 

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup applesauce

1 egg

1 cup sweet molasses (or 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup brown sugar)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot water

 

For buttercream: 

1/2 cup butter

1 (1 lb) package confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon milk

dash salt

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in molasses. In another bowl mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Mix into the creamed mixture and stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour (insert a knife and it should come out clean). Let it cool in pan before serving.

To make the buttercream, beat butter until soft, and add in confectioners’ sugar alternately with lemon rind, salt, lemon juice, and milk. Beat well until smooth. Spread it on the gingerbread loaf or serve the bread sliced with buttercream on the side.

 

Eggnog fudge

 

Ingredients 

2 cups granulated white sugar

1/2 cup salted butter

3/4 to 1 cup dairy eggnog

10.5 ounces white chocolate,

chopped into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and a bit extra to sprinkle on top of the fudge

One 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme

1 teaspoon vanilla or rum extract

 

Directions

Line an 8 or 9-inch square pan with foil and let it hang over the sides. Butter the foil. In a heavy saucepan combine sugar, butter and eggnog. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. (Be sure to continue stirring constantly as you do not want to scorch the bottom. Also, if you have a candy thermometer the temperature should read 234 degrees at this time. If you do not have one, don’t worry. I make this without one.) Remove from heat.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in chopped white chocolate and nutmeg until chocolate smooth. Stir in marshmallow creme and extract. Beat until well blended and then pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle a little nutmeg on top. Let it sit at room temperature until cooled or place in the refrigerator. Cut into squares when cool and eat or store in a covered container.

 

Published in the December 2014 issue of Grow Northwest

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