Sunday, December 7, 2008

Comfort Foods = Joy

I just took one of my favoite holiday treats out of the oven - cranberry shortbread! Yesterday I made a pot of spiced cider. Hot Spiced Cider plus Cranberry Shortbread equals a joyful mouth and tummy! At least for me they do, since one of my favorite treats is a cup of one and a chunk of the other, enjoyed while blog-hopping in the morning.

The cider is easy. I simply take a gallon of the clear cider - I find it works better than the fresher stuff - and pour it into a large pot - my 5 quart one works great. I add about 3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar, a few cinnamon sticks, a bunch (tablespoon or so) of whole cloves, a few strips of orange peel (without the white part) and simmer it all on the stove for a while, testing occasionally until it tastes spicy enough for me. Then I strain the spice pieces out of it and pour it back into the jug it came in from the store, and keep it in the fridge. Bear in mind, as it simmers, it also evaporates, so you won't have a gallon when you are done. When I want a cup, I simply pour it into a cup and zap for about 1 min. 20 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes, and voila! It's ready to drink.

The cranberry shortbread is easy, too! I've been making this recipe about 3 - 4 years, and originally got it from HERE on the Martha Stewart website. I have made this same recipe with mini chocolate chips, nuts, etc. and each one is delicious! Anyway, Martha baked hers in a cake pan and cut the pieces out with heart shaped cookie cutters, but I have this >>>

>>> handy dandy Nordic Ware Shortbread Pan. You can find more info about it here, just bear in mind I didn't buy it from there, and didn't pay that much for it, either. Anyway, it is perfect for baking the shortbread, as you can see here >>>

>>> and it makes nine 3 inch squares of shortbread, which is a nice sized piece for washing down with hot spiced cider, lol! Each square has different design on the top, including a pineapple, a butterfly, a stem of two cherries, etc.

The recipe for this is very easy - just remember to take the butter out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature ahead of time.

Cranberry Shortbread

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature (I've used salted and it's okay, too, just reduce your salt in the recipe a little)

3/4 cup sifted confectioners (powdered) sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups sifted all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt (or less if using salted butter)

1/2 cup finely chopped dried cranberries (craisins) or cherries (or nuts or mini chocolate chips)

Heat oven to 325 degres.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until combined, but not too creamy. Stir in last ingredient (dried fruit, nuts, etc.)

Pat dough evenly into an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan. Bake until just beginning to turn golden - about 20 minutes. (Note, in my heavy pan it takes closer to 30 minutes, so check it often, and bake until it's just getting golden) Place pan on cooling rack until cool enough to touch, turn out and cut into squares, or if desired, into shapes with cookie cutters.

Cookies will keep for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Here are a couple of pictures of my finished product >>>

Doesn't that look delicious! Very pretty sprinkled lightly with sifted powdered sugar, too!

Well, we got the tree put up and all the decorations out of the attic today, but that naked tree in the living room isn't decorating itself, so I guess I'd better go help it out some. Have a great evening! Blessings y'all! Becky

1 comment:

English Cottage in Georgia said...

Yummy!!! The shortbread and spiced cider sound absolutely perfect for this chilly evening. Will have to try the recipe.