Sparkling Holiday Fruit Cookies

Sparkling Holiday Fruit Cookies

Who needs fruit cake when you can have this updated version of fruit jammy cookies? Our Holiday Fruit Cookies are filled with delicious apricot, cherry, and orange jammy bits along with candied ginger, pecans, and rum-soaked raisins. Rolled in sparkling sugar before baking, they have a super crispy, crunchy exterior and a soft jammy fruit filled interior.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup golden raisins
¼  cup dark rum
¾  cup cherry jammies*
½  cup apricot jammies*
cup diced orange jammies*
¾ cup pecan, broken into pieces
cup diced crystallized ginger
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 ½  cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ½  cups all-purpose flour, we prefer White Lily
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sparkling sugar

INSTRUCTIONS
Place the raisins and rum in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, tossing often, until liquid is almost absorbed about 6 -7 minutes. Cool completely gently pressing down into any remaining liquid. Add the cherry, apricot, and orange jammies to a bowl along with the pecans, ginger, and cooled raisins.Toss to combine.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then the extract. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add into creamed mixture. When completely combined, Stir in the fruit mixture.Place the remaining sugar in a shallow bowl. Shape 2 tablespoons of dough into balls; Roll in the sparkling sugar to coat. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough balls from the refrigerator as needed, keeping the others cold, and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake until just golden brown and set, about 15-17 minutes. Cool on the pan for five minutes then move to wire racks and cool completely.

* Fruit Jammies can be found on-line at KingArthurFlour.com

Vanilla Bean Bottom Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream & Nutmeg topping

Vanilla Bean Bottom Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream & Nutmeg topping

Our new favorite Thanksgiving Dessert is Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese bottom, that’s topped with sweetened sour cream and nutmeg.  We like to serve it with a little caramel sauce and toasted pecans on the side.

 

INGREDIENTS
12 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
2 ½ cups ginger snap crumbs
4 – 8 oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature
2 ¾  cups of sugar plus 3 tablespoons, divided
1 ¼ cups sour cream, divided
6 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½  teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg, plus more for topping

 

For serving (optional):
Toasted Pecans
Caramel Sauce

 

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

 

To make the gingersnap crumbs, grind ginger snap cookies in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Measure out 2 ½ cups and add to a large bowl. Brush a 9-inch springform pan with a small amount of butter. Line the springform bottom with a 9” parchment circle. Lightly brush the parchment with a little more butter. 

 

Stir the remaining butter in the bowl with the crumbs. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and a pinch of salt and combine well. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. Use a flat bottom measuring cup to packing it tightly and evenly in the bottom and sides. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, remove and cool completely on a rack. Wrap the outside of the springform pan with three layers of foil up the sides to form a water tight seal around the pan and place in a large roasting pan. Bring a pot of water to a boil.

 

Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add 2 ½ cups of sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in ¼ cup sour cream, the eggs, and salt until well combined.  Remove three cups of the mixture to another bowl. Add the vanilla bean paste and whisk until well combined. Carefully pour the vanilla mixture over the cooled crust. 

 

To the remaining cream cheese mixture left in the mixer bowl, add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and beat until just combined. Carefully spoon over the vanilla layer. Smooth the top.

 

Gently place in the oven and very carefully add the boiling water into just the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Be careful to not splash any water into the cheesecake batter. Bake until the outside of the cheesecake is set but the center is still loose, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn off the oven heat and crack open the door for 2-3 minutes to vent out some heat. Close the door and leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the heat off, for 1 more hour, then carefully remove from the oven. Remove the foil from the outside of the springform pan and cool on a rack for about 30 minutes. 

 

Set the oven rack on the lowest point in the bottom of the oven and heat the oven on the broiler setting to high. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of sour cream, 3 tablespoons sugar, and a pinch of nutmeg. Carefully spread in a thin layer over the top center of the cheesecake leaving a 1-1 ½” ring of the pumpkin cheese cake on the outside. Place on the lowest rack and cook until the topping is just set. About 6 -10 minutes. Watch carefully so the cheesecake doesn’t get too brown or start to burn. Remove and sprinkle with more nutmeg. Cool completely.

 

Run a very thin knife around the edges inside the springform pan, cover, and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

 

Set the cheesecake out about 30 minutes before serving. Unlock and remove the springform ring.  Slice with a warm knife and serve with toasted pecans and caramel sauce on the side.

Crispy Stuffing Balls with Cranberry Sauce Dip

Crispy Stuffing Balls with Cranberry Sauce Dip

The deliciously crunchy stuffing edges on this appetizer are so good you’ll find yourself saving the Thanksgiving stuffing just to make them. Prepared stuffing is combined with cheese and egg, and cranberry relish is transformed into a sweet and tart dipping sauce when these Thanksgiving stars are used in this leftover makeover.

 

Stuffing Balls
INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup finely chopped onion
¼  cup finely chopped celery
1 carrot, grated
2 cups prepared stuffing
1 egg, whisked
½  cup shredded fontina cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

 

INSTRUCTIONS
Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and cook until crisp-tender, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl then add the vegetables. Mix until well combined and using a 1 ½“cookie scoop, form into 24-28 balls. Place on the parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 18 minutes or until browned and crispy. Remove to a plate and serve warm with the Cranberry Dipping Sauce. Makes 24-28 appetizers.

 

Cranberry Dipping Sauce 
INGREDIENTS
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 ½ teaspoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons cranberry vinegar*
1 cup Cranberry Relish, preferably New England Style Apple-Orange
Dash ground cinnamon

 

INSTRUCTIONS
In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch and orange juice, whisking until smooth. Stir in the brown sugar, vinegar, cranberry sauce, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring until thickened. Add to a high-speed blender and purée until smooth. Strain into a bowl and serve warm with the Stuffing Balls.

 

* While Cranberry Vinegar is preferred,  Apple Cider Vinegar can be substituted.

Hasselback Butternut Squash with Birch Syrup, Sage, & Pecans

Hasselback Butternut Squash with Birch Syrup, Sage, & Pecans

Always a holiday favorite, Butternut Squash get a new look when being served “hasselback” style. A Swedish technique using thin slices, the squash is baked with birch syrup, butter, and garlic creating a tasty dish that’s as delicious as it is pretty. The finished squash is then topped with parsley, chopped pecans, and freshly ground pink peppercorns.

 

Birch syrup comes from White Birch Trees and has a delicious earthy flavor. It can be ordered online or substituted with maple syrup.

 

INGREDIENTS
Olive oil for the pan
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, finely grated
3 tablespoons birch syrup, or substitute preferably grade B maple syrup
Kosher salt
1 butternut squash
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Parsley
¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
Freshly ground pink peppercorns 

 

INSTRUCTIONS
Heat oven to 425°F . Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly brush the paper lightly with olive oil.

 

Melt the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat until it starts to turn golden. Add chopped sage and, allow the sage to “fry” slightly in the hot butter. Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated garlic, birch syrup, and a ¼ teaspoon kosher salt.

 

Meanwhile, peel butternut squash and halved it lengthwise; scoop out and discard the seeds. Place the squash flat side down. Place a wooden chopstick or thin handled wooden spoon, one on each side, of the squash half. Carefully cut slits ¼ inch apart down the rounded side of squash, using the chopsticks or wooden spoon as a guide so you avoid cutting all the way through squash. Place the 8 small bay leaves in some of the slits.

 

Season squash the with ½ teaspoon salt and place in the oven. After 20 minutes, remove and lightly brush with the butter/syrup mixture. Continue cooking, brushing with the butter/syrup mixture every 10 minutes, until the squash is tender about 20-30 minutes longer.

 

When the squash is tender, remove from the oven and carefully move to a serving platter. Arrange tightly together. Pour over the remaining butter mixture and top with fresh chopped parsley, chopped pecans and fresh ground pink peppercorns.

Banana Maple Cookies with Toasted Pecans and Brown Butter Maple Icing

Banana Maple Cookies with Toasted Pecans and Brown Butter Maple Icing

These oat-filled fall cookies taste like banana bread with a touch of maple. Iced with a delicious frosting made from nutty-flavored brown butter and more maple, the cookies are then topped with a whole toasted pecan. Perfect on a chilly afternoon with a warm cup of cider or tea.

INGREDENTS
24-28 whole pecan halves
12 tablespoons butter, softened
cup maple sugar
cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
½  teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large banana, very ripe, about ¾ cup
¾  cup oats
1 ¾  cups flour
½  teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Brown butter maple icing (below)

 

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Place the whole pecans on a parchment lined sheet tray. Place in the oven and toast for 8-9 minutes until browned. Set aside to cool.

 

Using a stand mixer, Beat the butter, maple sugar and brown sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add in the egg, vanilla extract, and banana and stir it into the sugar mixture. In a separate bowl combine together the oats, flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add to the wet ingredients, just mixing until combined. Cover tightly and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

 

Using a small 1 ½” scoop, place the dough scoops about 1½” apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Press gently to flatten. You should get about 24-28 cookies. Place in the oven and bake until light brown, about 15-18 minutes. Remove and cool completely.

 

Brown Butter Maple Icing
INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¼ cup maple syrup
Pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the butter until it turns a deep golden brown and smells nutty. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, and salt until smooth. The icing should be thick. If it’s too thin, add a bit more confectioners’ sugar. If it’s too thick, add a few drops of water. Spread on cookies and top with a toasted whole pecan half.

Mushroom & Sausage Skull Calzones

Mushroom & Sausage Skull Calzones

Perfect for a Halloween dinner – not-so-scary meat, veggies, and cheese stuffed inside skull calzones floating in a pool of delicious marinara tomato sauce. These sausage, mushrooms, onion, red pepper, mozzarella, and ricotta Halloween twisted calzones will make a delicious and fun start to your evening festivities.

Calzones
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the pan
One pound pizza dough, home-made or high-quality store purchased
4 spicy Italian sausages, pork or chicken, casings removed
½  large red bell pepper
1 cup of onion, sliced thin
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
8 ounces ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons parmesan
Special Equipment – Nordic Ware Halloween Mini Skull Cakelet Pan

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Lightly brush the skull pan with olive oil. Cut the pizza dough into 6 equal pieces. Stretch or roll into 4”x 8” pieces. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the sausage. Cook until slightly brown then add the bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms and cook 10 minutes longer or until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and add the mozzarella, ricotta cheese, and parmesan. Working one at a time, lay dough into a skull cavity. Add one sixth of the mixture. Gently stretch and fold the dough over the fillings and pinch together to seal. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Place in the oven and bake 30- 35 minutes. Rest for 5-10 minutes, remove from molds and place in a shallow bowl of the marinara sauce.

Quick Marinara
16 ounce can chopped Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Combine tomato sauce, olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper in a blender and process to a slightly chunky consistency. Transfer the sauce to a saucepan and heat on the stovetop or in a bowl and microwave until warm. Pour a small amount to just cover the bottom of warmed serving bowls and serve with a skull placed in the center of each bowl.