It’s just a few days before Christmas, and I am finally back in town for a little while. I will have to get some pictures of this last project together to share with you all soon.
In the meantime, I wanted to quickly share with you the cookies I made for Christmas this year. It is a shorter list than most years, since I didn’t have much time for baking. But, if you are still looking for a few ideas for this weekend, here you go!
Starting in the upper left corner, and moving clockwise:
I hope you find something here that sounds good and give them a try. The Nut Balls are a long-time family favorite. I have used plain raspberry, plain cranberry, and this year a cran-raspberry filling for the pinwheels and they are always a hit. They look fancy, but are really pretty simple to make.
And the newcomer this year is the shortbread – browned butter, apple cider, and topped with a salted caramel drizzle. They were the absolute favorite of most of the people I shared them with. I had pinned a recipe for browned butter shortbread, and then I saw a recipe for apple cider shortbread. I decided they needed to be combined. And then I saw Wilton’s salted caramel candy melts (Hershey’s just came out with a salted caramel baking chip as well), and figured it was a natural match. It was a very good idea.
Merry Christmas! I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season!
I’ve been super busy and on the road the last few weeks, so I didn’t get a chance to post a new recipe. To make up for it, I’ve got both a recipe and a gallery of decorated food for you today! I added a new page at the top of the site with pictures of a lot of the cakes and cookies I have decorated. I plan to keep updating it both with old items I already have pictures of, and with new items as I create them.
And, as I said, I have a new recipe for you. This is a take on the old Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad that I’m sure many of you have had. It’s a buttery pretzel crust with a sweet cream cheese filling topped with strawberry studded Jello.
Since I’m not a big fan of strawberries, my mom started making this with raspberries and raspberry Jello. I decided to change it up again and make it more Thanksgiving- and Christmas-oriented. I made a basic cranberry sauce, but I amped it up with a little bit of raspberry as well. And I decided to make them individual-sized in cupcake liners.
You can make this in small mason jars, or in an 8″ square pan. Or double it so it’s the size of the original recipe and make it in a 9×13-inch pan. I didn’t add any flavors, like cinnamon or orange zest, to the cranberry sauce, but they would be great additions. And if you prefer to go a little more traditional, or want to make it a different time of year, you can use any combination of frozen fruit and jello. How does cherry sound? Or what about blueberry in the spring? You could add a little lemon zest into the cream cheese layer for any of the berry flavors. Or maybe a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips instead with the cherry (or raspberry or strawberry…) version. (So that’s going on my to-make list. 🙂 )
It’s not overly sweet, so it can be served as a side dish or a dessert. It wouldn’t be out of place on a brunch menu either. Anyway, I hope you guys try this out, whatever version you choose!
Individual Cran-Raspberry Pretzel Salads
For the Crust
2 cups (3 ounces) mini pretzel twists or thin sticks
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
For the Cream Cheese Layer
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces (half of an 8 ounce tub) frozen whipped topping, thawed
For the Cran-Raspberry Layer
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon raspberry jam
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For the Crust
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners and spray with baking spray. Or, spray an 8-inch square baking pan or 12 small mason jars with baking spray.
Combine the pretzels and sugar in a food processor and pulse until the pretzels are coarse crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times until combined.
Divide crumbs between the 12 liners, 12 jars, or dump into square pan. Pack crust down firmly. Bake for 5-10 minutes, depending on container, or until lightly browned. Let cool completely.
For the Cream Cheese Filling
Combine the cream cheese and sugar with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Fold in the whipped topping. Spoon or pipe onto cooled crust. Refrigerate while you make the final layer.
For the Cran-Raspberry Layer
Combine the cranberries, raspberries, water, and sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to simmer. Reduce heat slightly and continue cooking until all of the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the raspberry jam. Cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, spoon or pipe onto cream cheese layer. Return to refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.
Keep leftovers refrigerated.
By Kim House
The Archaeologist Bakes http://www.thearchaeologistbakes.com/