Category Archives: cranberry

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

Hi there! I am sorry I left you hanging for a few weeks there—COVID finally got me—but I am very happy to be back with a new recipe in time for the Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange. This event, which I am participating in for the fifth year, is a food blogger-lead fundraiser and awareness campaign for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. This organization is a 501(c)3 non-profit with the express mission to raise funds for innovative pediatric cancer treatments and research through bake sales and cookie swaps. Supporters (“Good Cookies”) can do this throughout the year, but I am delighted to lend support as part of my holiday giving especially right now when OXO is matching donations up to $100,000! If you’d like to learn more and/or make a charitable donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, click here. For White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges, keep scrolling!

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

I would like to give a high five to whichever person decided white chocolate, dried cranberries, and pistachios is a Christmas combination. I don’t believe it was a part of any holiday parties or cookie exchanges I took part in while growing up, but I am all for it now. Aside from just being festive—love that red, green and white—it’s delicious, and a welcome departure from the chocolate, peppermint, and spice-heavy fare that seems to be available 24/7 in December. Not that I’m complaining.

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

Today’s White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges are the perfect vehicle for showcasing this new holiday classic combination. They’re simple to make, require just a few ingredients, and are incredibly cute—things cut in wedges automatically have Christmas tree vibes, you know?

These buttery shortbread treats come together just as simply as the classic cookies. The dough is mixed in one bowl in just a few minutes. It’s got all the usual shortbread suspects (granulated sugar, softened butter, all-purpose flour), plus confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and salt for smooth texture, flavor and balance. Oh, and white chocolate chips, chopped dried cranberries and pistachios for pizzazz!

Once mixed, the dough is spread into a cake pan lined with an extra-large piece of parchment. It’s docked (vented) with a fork all over before baking for about 40 minutes, until just turning golden at the edges. Fifteen minutes later, that extra-large parchment is used to lift the whole disk of shortbread onto a cutting board and slice it into wedges while it’s still warm. I love those clean edges.

These shortbread wedges are thick and substantial, with a slight softness to their crunch, and plenty of color and flavor from the mix-ins. My favorite bites are the ones with white chocolate—it caramelizes in the oven and is outrageously good. I like to dot a few extra white chocolate chips on top after baking for diversity of flavor (and obvious cuteness). And the chewy cranberries and crunchy pistachios? So good!

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges are perfect for any upcoming party or cookie giving (eating?) occasion. They’re as satisfying to make as they are to eat, and the dough is a perfect blank slate for any festive mix-in your holiday heart desires. What would you put in shortbread wedges? Let me know in the comments!

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​
White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges
makes 12-16 wedges

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/3 cup pistachio meats, finely chopped
1/3 cup white chocolate chips, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 325F. Cut a large (12-14 inch) circle of parchment paper. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment circle, leaving the overhang for ease of removal. Grease again. Set aside.

Place softened butter in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add granulated and confectioners sugars and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Beat in half of flour and salt, followed by remaining flour. Add chopped dried cranberries, pistachio meats, and white chocolate chips.

Transfer dough to prepared pan and press into an even layer. Use the tines of a fork to dock the entire surface of the dough. If you hit a big piece of pistachio (or whatever), simply pull it off the fork and press it back into place.

Bake shortbread 38-40 minutes, until golden at the edges and set on top. Dot with additional white chocolate chips, if desired.

Let shortbread cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Then use the overhang to remove the still-warm shortbread to a cutting board. Use a large sharp chef’s knife to cut into 12 large or 16 smaller wedges. Gently transfer wedges back to the rack and let cool completely. Serve.

Leftover shortbread will keep covered at room temperature for a few days.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails

I never know what to post the week of Thanksgiving, but I think going with something easy that you can make anytime between now and the New Year is a good place to start.

This Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup certainly fits that bill, clocking in with almost no active work, but plenty of vibrant color and sweet-tart flavor. It starts the way all simple syrups do: with sugar and water. While the classic proportion is 1:1, I upped the water here to accommodate the cranberries’ natural thickening agent (pectin)—we’re after syrup here, not jelly!

The berries, water and sugar are simmered together for just ten minutes, until the fruit begins to burst. Once that happens, remove the pot from the heat and use a fork or potato masher to mash all the berries into the liquid. Resist the urge to strain your syrup right away, instead letting the mashed berries hang out in it while it’s cooling. This imbues the syrup with plenty of tart cranberry flavor and vivid color. Once the half hour is up, strain and cool your syrup, then use it however you like. I bet a little over ice cream would be a treat, but I am focusing on mocktails today.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

Let’s talk about these Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails. With their ruby color and booze-free fizz, these are a perfect beverage for any end-of-year occasion. They’re not terribly sugary, and taste intentional and not like an afterthought or just a virgin version of some classic cocktail. They taste like they have some intention behind them, if you will—they’re complete on their own.

The list of ingredients for Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails is blessedly short, and besides the homemade Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup, everything is readily available at the grocery store.

The recipe is simple: 1 part Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup, 2 parts ginger beer, 2 parts seltzer, 1/2 part fresh lime juice. I’ve written the recipe in “parts” rather than specific volumes so that you can make enough for two or for a crowd without doing too much math. Simply stir the ingredients together and serve over ice with cranberries and lime wedges for garnish. So cute, right? Wait til you try one—so good.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

My absolute favorite thing about these mocktails? They’re not too sweet. There is some sweetness, of course, from the syrup and zippy ginger beer, but it’s balanced by the lime juice and diluted with seltzer in the best possible way. They taste like they were made for grown-ups because they were. How refreshing.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

I’m taking the rest of this week off to spend time with my family. I’ll be back next week with new Christmas recipes. Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.

Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup
makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 10-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through

Add all ingredients to a small pot. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes or until berries have burst. Skim off and discard any foam that accumulates. Remove pot from heat, then mash burst berries with a potato masher or fork. Let berries sit in syrup for 30 minutes.

Place a sieve over a large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to press the syrup through the sieve. Discard the the leftover fruit solids or use for another purpose.

Transfer syrup to a container with a lid. Let cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails

1 part cranberry syrup
2 parts ginger beer
2 parts seltzer
1/2 part lime juice
ice
fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)
lime wedges, for garnish (optional)

I measured in tablespoons for each glass, but feel free to use a larger units of measure to make a pitcher of mocktails.

In a liquid measuring cup or other vessel, stir together cranberry syrup, ginger beer, seltzer and lime juice.

Add ice to glasses. Pour mocktail mixture over the top and garnish with cranberries and lime, if desired. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Cranberry Ginger Blondies

Chocolate Cranberry Ginger BlondiesHello, it’s me, your completely exhausted food blogger friend!

I’m writing this post on Friday night (wild life I lead, huh?), but by the time you read it on Monday, I’ll be at my parents’ house in Texas assembling a Porchetta (!) and giving their dog as many scritches and snuggles as she’ll allow. I’m looking forward to the break and the family time, and to making holiday food.Chocolate Cranberry Ginger BlondiesIt’s been determined that our Christmas dinner dessert will be a Winning Hearts & Minds Cake, mostly for deliciousness and ease-of-preparation reasons, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to find an excuse to make these Chocolate Cranberry Ginger Blondies, too. Thanks to their quick prep time and my mother’s love for any and all dried fruit, I’m sure she won’t object. She may, however, not exactly love me kneading dinner roll dough on her counter, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.Chocolate Cranberry Ginger BlondiesThe blondie base is so simple to make that I have the recipe committed to memory. Well, almost. I reduced the flour by a couple of tablespoons for an extra dense and chewy result and I don’t regret it one bit!Chocolate Cranberry Ginger BlondiesYou could put 1 1/4 cup of any mix-in you like in this blondie batter and it’d bake up beautifully. I went with chocolate chips, dried cranberries and candied ginger because I had a little of all of those in my cookie mix-in cabinet—it’s as simple as that. It helps, of course, that chocolate, cranberries and candies ginger are both beautiful *and* sweet, tangy, delicious holiday fare. I mean, are these calling your name like they are mine?Chocolate Cranberry Ginger BlondiesI’ll be taking this Wednesday off posting because it’s Christmas (duh). I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with good food and people you love. I’ll be back Friday with my last recipe of 2019 and probably some dog pictures.Chocolate Cranberry Ginger Blondies

Chocolate Cranberry Ginger Blondies
makes one 8-inch pan

1 cup water
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup small-diced candied ginger
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and line it with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for easy removal. Grease again. Set aside.

Plump the cranberries. Bring water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add cranberries. Let sit about 5 minutes before straining out water.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla, followed by flour and salt. Stir in dried cranberries and candied ginger. Check to make sure the batter isn’t too warm to the touch before stirring in chocolate chips (you don’t want them to melt).

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let blondies cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan, then use parchment to lift them onto a cutting board. Slice with a large, sharp chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Serve.

Blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for three days.Chocolate Cranberry Ginger BlondiesChocolate Cranberry Ginger Blondies

Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Apple Cider Cranberry SauceMy mother makes the best cranberry sauce in the world, but that’s not the recipe I’m sharing today.* Sorry to disappoint.

*Just kidding! I wrote her original recipe in the notes at the end. It’s a Thanksgiving two-fer 🙂 Apple Cider Cranberry SauceI have a good reason for holding out on you. My mom’s cranberry sauce is made with a large amount of brandy, which gets cooked off over the course of an hour in the oven. As I have mentioned previously though, I cannot safely consume alcohol, and therefore do not keep it around, even for cooking.

Since I quit drinking five and a half years ago, cranberry sauce is one of the only dishes that I have really missed. I’ve found work-arounds or substitutes for all sorts of other recipes, but I just couldn’t find one that hit all the same buttons as my mom’s.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceIn case you’re wondering, those buttons include:

  • It’s gotta be whole berry. No weird can-shaped cranberry jello here.
  • It can’t have more than three ingredients. I’ve had cranberry sauces with nuts and spices and other fruits and all sorts of other silliness, and all of it was completely unnecessary.
  • It shouldn’t have any citrus. Orange and cranberry are complementary flavors, but I can’t stand them together in cranberry sauce. This is more of a personal preference than anything, but I mean, this is my personal food blog.
  • It can’t be too sweet. I hate when cranberries are so over-sweetened that their natural tartness is completely masked.
  • It has to be easy. Like ridiculously easy. So low-maintenance, it’s silly. And if it can be made more than a day ahead, that’s ideal.
  • If nothing else, it must be so delicious that I want to eat it every time I spot the jar in the fridge.

Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceIt’s taken a few years and many sauces with unrecognizable berries, too much sugar, flavors I didn’t care for, and a lot of feeling sorry for myself, but I’ve finally made a cranberry sauce that hits all those buttons. And the missing ingredient was looking at me the whole time in the form of a seasonal fridge staple: apple cider. It has flavor, but not enough to overwhelm the cranberries, and it’s sweet without being saccharine. Perfection.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceThis sauce comes together over the course of an hour in the oven. It gets stirred twice, but needs no help otherwise.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceThe result is soft, bursting berries that slump into a sweet, sticky sauce. It’s just divine. As is the fact that it can be made today and nuked in the microwave just before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, it’s probably even better that way. Love that.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Want more cranberries? See here and here. For more apple cider, see here and here.

Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce*
makes about 3 cups

2 12-ounce bags whole cranberries
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine all ingredients in a 9×13-inch casserole dish and stir together. Bake 60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.

Remove sauce from oven. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a serving dish. Serve.

Cranberry sauce may be made up to two days in advance; it reheats well in the microwave.

Note:

If you want to try my mom’s cranberry sauce, swap the cider for brandy and double the sugar. Everything else is the same.
Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Pear & Cranberry Torte

Updated 11/15/2018 to add better photos.Pear & Cranberry TorteEverybody has their holiday mainstay dish. For some it’s tamales, for others, a glazed ham. For me, it’s this Pear & Cranberry Torte. I found the recipe for a simple cranberry version years ago when I was just learning to bake, and I’ve made it ever since. I made it as written many times, but as I gained more knowledge and confidence in my baking, I made a few adjustments and have had it in my holiday repertoire ever since.Pear & Cranberry TorteWhat’s the difference between a torte and a cake? Besides just sounding fancier than regular cake, tortes are made with minimal to no flour, relying on eggs, sugar, and sometimes leaveners to give them structure. I’ve put one other torte recipe on here, my grain-free version of Molly Wizenberg’s Winning Hearts & Minds Cake. If you or your guests are way into chocolate (or gluten-free!), throw that recipe on your menu.
Pear & Cranberry TorteBut back to today’s torte. It’s a buttery, light vanilla-almond cake full of soft pieces of pear and tart whole cranberries–it definitely tastes like the holidays. Where a lot of holiday desserts are time consuming and require ingredients you don’t use for the other 11 months of the year, this one is simple. With the exception of the pear and the cranberries, you probably have all the ingredients in your home right now.

The cake base comes together in minutes. Cream some butter, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar. Beat in a couple of eggs, some vanilla, and a hint of almond extract. Mix in a mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt before spreading the batter into a buttered springform pan. That’s it! Then just dot the top with chunks of pear (you’ll want to use one that’s ripe but not mushy) and scatter on some cranberries. Dust it all with a tablespoon of sugar before baking for 40 minutes or so.Pear & Cranberry TorteOnce baked, Pear & Cranberry Torte has a very rustic appearance. The pieces of pear will buckle into the batter while the cranberries dot the golden brown top crust. The torte may be served warm or at room temperature, and is just as good with whipped cream or a dusting of confectioner’s sugar as it is by its lonesome.

I hope this Pear & Cranberry Torte becomes a holiday mainstay for you. The buttery vanilla-almond cake and seasonal fruit are a delightful end to any holiday meal. And if you’re the kind of person who gives cakes as gifts, this torte is easy to pack and your friends will love it.Pear & Cranberry Torte

Pear & Cranberry Torte
adapted from Lottie & Doof
one 9-inch cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon, for sprinkling
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 medium pear, cored, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced (about 1 cup cubes)
3/4 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until very light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in granulated and light brown sugars. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and almond extracts. With the mixer on low, mix in dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.

Spread batter into the prepared pan. Scatter pear pieces and cranberries over the top and lightly press them into the batter. Sprinkle additional tablespoon of granulated sugar over the top. Bake 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge and releasing the springform.

Serve warm or room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.
Pear & Cranberry TortePear & Cranberry Torte