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Savory Sweets for the Season

Jeff Linamen

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My first day of holiday baking. I wanted to share my new versions of a couple of favorites. Both are super easy to make.

Cranberry-Cashew Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry-Cashew Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry-Cashew Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen medium-sized cookies.

Here’s a recipe I adapted that is quite easy and decadent. It has a rich, refined taste that isn’t overly sweet. It makes a perfect dough for cookie cutters too.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut parchment paper to fit two large cookie sheets.

Ingredients

2 cups flour, sifted

2 sticks salted butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries

1/4 cup finely chopped cashews

Using a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, then add vanilla. Add the sifted flour a little at a time until completely blended. Last, add the finely chopped cranberries and cashews. Remove from mixer and form into a ball and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. This helps to firm the dough for rolling and cutting into shapes.

Note: It’s important that your dried cranberries and cashews are chopped up fine so that the pieces don’t hinder your ability to cut cookies into shapes.

Take the chilled dough and place on a large sheet of parchment paper and flatten a bit with the palm of your hand. Place another sheet of parchment on top on the dough and roll out until about a quarter-inch thick.

Note: Using parchment paper is an easy mess-free alternative to rolling on a lightly floured surface. It also keeps the cookie dough from becoming too dry.

Use a flour-coated cookie cutter to cut shapes, placing them on the prepared cookie sheet.  After first shapes are cut, re-form the excess dough in a ball, flatten, roll and cut more shapes, repeat until dough is used up.

Note: You can also make the dough ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes before you’re ready to shape and bake.

Bake about ten minutes. Or only until the edges show slight signs of browning.

Let cool and enjoy!

 

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Makes approximately 100 cluster pieces.

This recipe is a variation of the crock pot candy recipe that has been circulating. It’s really easy to make and highly addictive! The perfect treat for all those chocolate-peanut butter fanatics.

Set up your crock pot and set on low heat. Roll out parchment paper on your counter or on cookie sheets.

Ingredients

2 pounds white almond bark or Vanilla CandiQuik

1 package of milk chocolate chips (approx. 12 ounces)

1 package of semisweet chocolate chips (approx. 12 ounces)

32 ounces of dry roasted peanuts

1 package of peanut butter chips (like Reeses’ Baking Chips) added last

Dump all the ingredients except the peanut butter chips into the crock pot and let cook (melt) for about an hour without stirring. After an hour, stir briefly, to combine– every 10-15 minutes  for about another hour. Turn off the crock pot and just before you are ready to spoon out the clusters, add the bag of peanut butter chips and stir just enough to combine without completely melting the peanut butter chips. Don’t over stir at this point.

Drop spoonfuls on to the parchment, smaller or larger depending on the size you prefer. Let cool completely (to prevent sticking) before storing in a closed container.


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