Saturday, December 13, 2008

What would we do without cranberries? : : Anne McAllister

I've been reading all these wonderful pieces here at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs and trying to figure out something useful to contribute to the discussion when, let's face it, I really should be doing revisions. They are due on Monday and I've got a fair amount left to do.

So . . . I decided that I would share a couple of easy recipes with you that I got from the side of a box and the food section of a newspaper so long ago that I can't remember when. But for years now I've used them and modified them and every year my kids -- and now grandkids -- and I make them whether we're together or apart.

Hope you'll give them a try if they sound appealing to you!

Cranberry & White Chocolate Biscotti

  • 1 package cranberry quick bread mix (take your pick of brand) or you can make the dough from your favorite biscotti recipe and just add the other stuff. I go the quick route myself
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten (but not within an inch of their lives)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips -- whatever brand you can find. Some are marketed as vanilla chips. Um, no.
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds (I have dyslexia when it comes to almonds. I can't remember which are slivered and which are sliced. But logically you don't want the flat ones which seem sliced to me, you want the other ones. Unless you don't like the same kind I do. Suit yourself)
  • extra flour as needed
  • powdered sugar
Heat the oven to 350 or whatever the equivalent is in your country. Grease a large cookie sheet.
Combine the bread mix, melted butter and eggs, stirring them together (but again, not beating them to a pulp. Go gently here).

Work in enough flour that you can handle the dough without it sticking to your hands. Make a ball of the dough and cut it in half. Shape each half into a sort of flat loaf-like shape about 9" long and 3-4" wide. It should be maybe half an inch thick. Set both loaves on the cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. They spread. Make sure you have enough room.

Bake the loaves at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until light brown. Don't overbake. Removed from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes. Go walk the dogs or write a page. Then come back and go to the next step.

Turn the oven down to 250. Cut the loaves into slices about 3/4" thick. Separate the slices on the sheet so that they are not touching, but leave them all upright. If you need another cookie sheet in order to give them space, use one.

Then put them back in the oven and go for another walk or go write several pages and come back at least half an hour later. If they are golden brown and looking crisp, they're ready. If not, leave them in longer. Go write some more. Go read a good book. Turn the oven off and let them sit there. Come back sometime and get them out and let them cool. This is an inexact science. If you like them really crispy leave them in the oven longer. If you want them slightly chewy, take them out sooner. When they are cool, dust them with powdered sugar.

If you think you'd like more cranberries than are in the quick bread mix, you can add dried or chopped fresh cranberries. The dried are probably better in terms of keeping the crisp dry texture. It depends on what texture you prefer.

Cranberry Cookies with Orange Frosting

These are seriously ambrosial if you are fond of cranberries and oranges. If not, go find some chocolate.

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 tsp grated orange peel
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 egg
Mix all the above together using either spoon or electric mixer.
Then stir in:
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Then stir in:
  • 2 cups chopped cranberries (this is the annoying part. Chopping cranberries is one of my least favorite activities, so you know these have to be worth the effort of chasing cranberries all over the kitchen as they roll off the cutting board. No, I don't have a food processor. If you do, you'll like these even better.)
Heat the oven to 375. Grease cookie sheets. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoonfuls on the cookie sheets. Keep about 2" between them. They spread. In fact, if your dough seems very sticky, add more flour or they will spread waaaaaay too much. If you have used butter you will have to watch them to be sure they don't burn. If you've used margarine, probably not so much, but it didn't say margarine, did it?

Bake 12-14 minutes. These get done fast, but you can't take them out too early or they simply crumble (but crumbs of course are calorie free, so there is an upside). Cool them on wire racks at least 30 minutes. Go write some more. Go jog. If you're going to eat very many of these you're going to want to work out in order to feel entitled to them.

When they are cool, frost them with a mixture of:
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • enough orange juice to make a soft spreadable frosting.

It's making me hungry just writing this. But I can't indulge until next week. Not until the revisions are gone.

What are some of your favorite holiday recipes? You don't have to give me all the ingredients -- just name some.

The one that makes my tastebuds leap up and head for the kitchen will win a copy of my January release, Antonides' Forbidden Wife -- in which PJ actually does cook for Ally, but they eat fresh pineapple for dessert. Sadly, not a cranberry in sight.

You can read an excerpt by clicking on the link.


Avi J said...

This question is my specialtity Anne. I am a professional chef so what I would recommend is a Triple Chocolate Brownie, cranberry Cheese Cake, sandwich with a filling of Rich Carmel and french vanilla Ice cream and served on a bed of a delectable cranberry coulis. Now I know I just made myself hungry. I love you cranberry recipe. Have fun in the kitchen.

Anne McAllister said...

oh, wow, Avi. That sounds amazing. I think I may just faint at the sound of it. You've set a very high standard here!

But I'm sure there are other Tote Baggers (that doesn't sound good, but it's better than Bag Ladies, yes?) who can come up with seriously delicious goodies, too. Looking forward to them.

Alyson Noel said...

Those cookies sound and look AH-MAZING!! I'm definitely going to try those!

Good luck on the revisions!

Gina said...

Wow Avi, that sounds yum. I know l cant top that. I like craisin (dried cranberry) cream cheese cookies. Happy cooking.

Anne McAllister said...

Thanks, Alyson. Hope you like them. And Gina, I agree about Avi's recommendation. I think I'm going to have to ask for that recipe! Yours sound good, too. Pretty much love anything with cranberries in it.

Michelle Douglas said...

Oh, wow, YUM! Anne, you are so wicked, but I HAVE to try those cookies - if the shops weren't so crazy hectic I'd run down and buy those ingredients right now.

Trifle is my speciality at Christmas - hey, it's hot in Australia! - and apparently I'm the only person my family and friends know who makes trifle. I usually end up making between 3 and 5. I'm usually glad not to see trifle again for another 12 months.

Merry Christmas!

Anne McAllister said...

Hi Michelle
I love trifle and almost no one in the US makes it. I had Welsh neighbors for several years who always had the most wonderful trifles. So I developed a taste. I've made it a few times, but I can't convince anyone in my family that it should be considered a local family tradition. What is wrong with them?!!

Helen said...

All of these sound wonderful I love trifle and have been known to make a couple over the Chrissy season but my favourite is traditional Christmas fruit cake I know a lot of people don't like them but I make a really good moist one and the family loves it and so many of my friends like them so much that I end up making about 4 to 6 of them for Chrissy gifts.

Have Fun

Maureen said...

One of our favorites are Wonder Bars with graham crackers crust with walnuts, chocolate chips, coconut and covered with condensed milk and baked and it is a gooey bar.

Anne McAllister said...

Your Christmas fruit cakes sound wonderful. There are fruit cakes and then there are fruit cakes -- some I really like and some I can leave alone. I've never made one. Maybe next year??

Maureen, I used to make Wonder Bars. Gosh, it's been years. Will have to try them again. They were fantastic. Thanks for reminding me!

Michele L. said...

Hi Anne,

Ooo..what I love is cream cheese cake with strawberry topping and whip cream! Love it! Haven't had it in a long time!

Also, my cousin makes this awesome pumpkin, pecan praline pumkin pie that has a crumbly, sugary topping and a graham cracker crust. The thing is like 3 layers high and is sensantional!

Another favorite is muffins. I like the cranberry, orange and pecan muffins that are moist and pleasantly sweet but not overly sweet that have a crumbly, brown sugar topping. Yum! Ooo baby are they ever good!

Oh, and how can I forget! The 5 layer strawberry, whip cream cake that the store in my town sells. It is heavenly! It has layers of yellow cake, whip cream, strawberries in a glaze and topped with more whipped cream and strawberries on top! Double yum!

Great topic Anne! A topic close to my heart that is oh so sweet! Ha, ha!

Michele L.

Anne McAllister said...

Ah, Michele,
Yes, I can tell you like plenty of good stuff, particularly strawberries. Sounds good to me. Thanks for lots of great suggestions.

cheryl c said...

Thanks for the yummy recipes!

Anne McAllister said...

you're most welcome. Hope you try them and enjoy them.

I've been reminded that I forgot to announce the winner. Formerly my dearly beloved dog Gunnar was in charge of that, and his younger siblings seem to have forgotten (or I did), so my apologies.

The winner -- for her spectacular suggestion -- is Avi. Everyone else's were great, too, but I bow to Avi's expertise here, and wish I were clever enough to make something that sounded half as good. Yum. Thanks everyone, and happy holidays!