The holidays evoke certain food memories. We think of yule logs, candy canes, hot chocolate by the fire and other holiday indulgences. These classic holiday foods still have a welcome place at family celebrations. But sometimes it is fun to try a new take on a classic holiday dish or introduce a familiar flavor in an unexpected format.
Here are some updated versions of classic treats to inspire your holiday menu planning.
Cranberries are usually a part of holiday meals, often in canned form. No offense to the canned cranberry sauce devotees out there, but there are better uses for this tart little fruit. Give it a try in a cookie. Joelen Tan, who pens the blog What's Cookin' Chicago, says the red and green hints of color and the flavor of her Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread really capture the holiday spirit. This recipe would be a great option for a cookie exchange. joelens.blogspot.com/2009/12/cranberry-pistachio-shortbread.html
Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread
Recipe adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book
In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla bean paste. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Fold in the chopped pistachios and dried cranberries. (Make sure 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, twist 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. (The logs can be frozen for about two months. If freezing, it is best to defrost the logs in the refrigerator overnight before slicing and baking.)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven. Using a thin-bladed knife, slice the logs into ¼- to ½-inch-thick cookies. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.