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
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.
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.
Whether you are stringing strands of the stuff to hang on the
tree or buying flavored tins to give as gifts, popcorn often is a
part of the holiday season. Chicago's own Garrett's Popcorn is
popular year-round. However, in November and December, folks clamor
for a taste of its limited edition seasonal flavors. Popcorn
enthusiasts can pick up a tin of Gingerbread CaramelCrisp. The
aroma of this seasonal flavor truly evokes memories of holiday
baking. Gingerbread CaramelCrisp is available online and at select
Chicago store locations and in most tin sizes.
Katherine Anne Confections is home to hand-dipped truffles,
homemade marshmallows and caramels and drinking chocolates in a
variety of unique flavor combinations. Around the holidays,
peppermint is king at Katherine Anne's. This confiserie features a
peppermint hot chocolate topped with peppermint marshmallows and a
sprinkling of crushed organic candy canes. 2745 W. Armitage,
No yuletide is complete without a little eggnog for holiday
cheer. During the holidays, Mediterranean-inspired restaurant
Tavernita features a Spanish-style version of the classic eggnog
recipe, featuring almond milk and smoked paprika (and Spanish
brandy and dark rum for the adults). You can whip up the recipe at
home. 151 W. Erie, Chicago. tavernita.com
Makes 16 servings
Separate eggs into yolk and whites. Beat egg yolk with half of
the sugar and set aside. Beat egg whites until stiff and add the
remaining half of the sugar and beat until incorporated. Pour the
yolks into the whites and mix together slowly. Add the alcohol, if
using. Stir in milk slowly. Stir in half of the cream slowly. Whip
the rest of the cream and fold into the mixture. Dust each serving
with a pinch of paprika and fresh grated nutmeg.