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Archive for Thanksgiving

TIP OF THE DAY: Get Seasonal With Pumpkin-Accented Everyday Foods

In our childhood, fall meant a choice of pumpkin pie or pumpkin pie. Today, there’s pumpkin everything.

Walk into your favorite food store: You’ll find pumpkin-themed products in every aisle.

Start the day with pumpkin yogurt or a bowl of pumpkin granola, toasted Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice English Muffins and bagels. Wash them down with pumpkin coffee or tea. End the day with pumpkin ice cream. And pumpkin-up everything in-between.

And we haven’t even gotten to the baked goods, from bagels and scones to pumpkin cheesecake.

Some contain actual pumpkin or closely-related squash; others are simply accented with pumpkin pie spices.

Yesterday at Whole Foods, we picked up:

  • 365 Everyday Value brand Pumpkin Spice Granola with Cranberries & Apples
  • Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie Gelato (with real pieces of pie crust!)
  • Terra’s Beauregard Sweets & Fairytale Pumpkin Chips
  •  
    Yesterday we covered pumpkin beer. Here are some of our favorite products of the season. Many are limited editions, so don’t dally!
     
    PUMPKIN BEVERAGES

    Tea

    David’s Tea Pumpkin Chai, a black spiced tea, is a customer favorite. It’s fragrant and flavorful, with notes of cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and squash pieces, and a hint of caramel.

    David’s recommends stirring in a spoonful of brown sugar and topping it with steamed milk. We drank ours straight.

    It’s also available packed in a tin for gift-giving; and herbal Spiced Pumpkin Tea. Take a sip at DavidsTea.com.

    You can find Celestial Seasoning’s Sweet Harvest Pumpkin Black Tea at many supermarkets.
     
    Coffee

    You’ll find everything from caramel, maple and nutty flavors like almond and hazelnut, along with the fall spice flavors: cinnamon, gingerbread, pumpkin spice, snickerdoodle, etc.

    Looking for K-Cups? You’ll find plenty of them. We’ve been working our way through Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice at a brisk pace. If you can’t find them locally, head to DunkinAtHome.com.
     
    Pumpkin Juice

    Natalie’s, our favorite line of all-natural, fresh-squeezed juices, mixes apple cider with real pumpkin: cooked, pureed and blended with apple juice and pumpkin pie spices. It’s very special.

    If you can’t find it locally, contact OrchardIslandJuice.com.
     
    PUMPKIN SNACKS & MORE

    Pumpkin Yogurt

    Pumpkin yogurt abounds, with a shout-out to Noosa Pumpkin Yoghurt, one of our favorites. Stonyfield Organic has Pumpkin Oh My Yog, a tri-layer whole milk yogurt: cream top, honey-infused whole milk yogurt middle, and pumpkin bottom.
     
    Salsa & Chips

    Mrs. Renfro’s Pumpkin Salsa is a smooth (as opposed to chunky) salsa that is delicious on anything, starting with a sauce for chicken, fish, tofu, grains, potatoes and other vegetables.

    For the classic American use—with chips—there are seasonal offerings such Food Should Taste Good’s Fall Harvest Chips, Way Better Snacks Punkin’ Cranberry (yes, that’s how they spell it) and other brands.

    We even added it to vodka for an instant Pumpkin Martini.
     
    MORE PUMPKIN PRODUCTS TO COME!

     

    Pumpkin Spice K Cups

    Mrs. Renfro's Pumpkin Salsa

    Natalie's Pumpkin Apple Juice

    Noosa Pumpkin Yogurt

    Thomas Pumpkin Spice Bagels

    [1] Pumpkin Spice coffee from Dunkin Donuts Home. [2] Mrs. Renfro’s Pumpkin Salsa. [4] Pumpkin Apple Spice Juice from Natalie’s. [3] Noosa Pumpkin Yogurt. [4] Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice Bagels.

      

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    RECIPE: Bacon Bourbon Cider

    Bacon Cocktail Garnish

    Cinnamon Sticks

    [1] Another way to enjoy fall’s apple cider: with bourbon and bacon (photo courtesy Davio’s | Manhattan). [2] Make your own cinnamon simple syrup with cinnamon, sugar and water (photo by Ben Fink, Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran).

     

    As restaurants and lounges switch to their autumn menus, we’re getting lots of fall cocktail recipes. We test cocktail recipes each weekend, typically inviting friends to stop by between their errands.

    This week’s cocktail recipe: Bacon Bourbon Cider from Davio’s Manhattan, one of New York’s fine steakhouses with a Northern Italian-accented menu.

    Two fall favorites—apple cider and maple-candied bacon—will make this a favorite fall cocktail. It’s so easy that it may well end up on your favorite home cocktail list.

    Davio’s uses Bulleit Bourbon for the cocktail. We used another top brand/
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1 ounce cinnamon infused* simple syrup
  • 3 ounces apple cider
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a cocktail shaker; shake and pour into a Collins glass.

    2. GARNISH with a slice of candied bacon.
     
    ________________
    *You can add ground cinnamon to plain simple syrup or use the recipe below.
     
    RECIPE: CANDIED BACON

    This recipe is for 8 pieces, but trust us: You’ll want to candy the entire pound package.
     
    Ingredients

  • 8 pieces thinly sliced bacon
  • 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons maple syru
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 300°F. Place the bacon strips flat on a cooling rack screen placed over a baking sheet. Bake the bacon for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, or until thoroughly brown and crisp.

    2. COOL the bacon; then brush both sides of the strips with maple syrup, using a pastry brush. (We long ago replaced our bristle pastry and basting brush with a silicon pastry brush—so much easier to use and clean).

    3. PLACE the bacon back on the rack in the oven and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes.

    4. RESTRAIN yourself from eating all the candied bacon.

     
    RECIPE: CINNAMON SIMPLE SYRUP

    You can make simple syrup up to a month in advance and keep it in the fridge, tightly capped. It can keep even longer, but why take up spice with an item you don’t use?

    Instead, use the cinnamon syrup to sweeten tea or coffee, or to drizzle over desserts: baked goods, fruits, puddings, etc. You can also give it as gifts in a Mason jar tied with a ribbon.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BREAK the cinnamon sticks into pieces (1 inch or longer), using a rolling pin or other implement (or break them by hand). Place them in a small sauce pan with the sugar and water.

    2. BRING to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

    3. STRAIN out and discard the cinnamon stick pieces, and refrigerate, tightly covered.
     
    SUBSTITUTING GROUND CINNAMON FOR CINNAMON STICKS

  • For each 2-inch cinnamon stick piece a recipe requires, substitute 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
  • Taste to see if you want more cinnamon flavor, and proceed 1/4 teaspoon at a time. Ground cinnamon has a stronger flavor than cinnamon sticks.
  • However, the flavor of ground cinnamon dissipates after 6 months or so (the minute a spice is ground and has much more exposure to air, the flavor begins to fade). If you don’t use cinnamon often, buy cinnamon sticks instead: They keep their flavor for up to 2 years. Grind them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder as needed.
  •  
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CINNAMON AND CASSIA

    Who knew that most of our ground “cinnamon” is actually cassia—not true cinnamon?

    Check out the different types of cinnamon.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Mimosa Cocktail

    Cranberry Mimosa Cocktail

    Make Cranberry Mimosa cocktails or mocktails. Photo courtesy Ocean Spray.

     

    There’s still time to create a signature drink for Christmas: a Cranberry Mimosa cocktail or mocktail. It combines cranberry juice with sparkling wine (or ginger ale), instead of the orange juice of a traditional Mimosa.

    Or use cranberry liqueur for a Cranberry Kir Royale, a.k.a. Kir Royale à la Canneberge (if you haven’t guessed, canneberge [can-BERZH] is French for cranberry). Note that using liqueur instead of juice creates a stronger drink.

    You can also serve a Mimosa mocktail with cranberry juice and ginger ale, and a diet version with diet cranberry juice and diet ginger ale.

     
    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS MIMOSA, CRANBERRY KIR ROYALE OR CRANBERRY MOCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces cranberry juice or cranberry liqueur
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine*, regular or rosé, chilled
  • Optional garnish: lemon curl, strawberry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cranberry juice/liqueur and the sparkling wine in a Champagne flute or wine glass. Add the juice first. If you need to stir, do so gently, once, so as not to collapse the bubbles.

    2. GARNISH as desired and serve.
     
    *Well-priced sparkling wines include Asti Spumante and Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, Crémant from France and our Top Pick Of The Week, Yellow Tail Bubbly.

     
    THE HISTORY OF THE MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    The Mimosa, a cocktail composed of equal parts of orange juice and Champagne or other dry, white sparkling wine, was invented circa 1925 in the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, by bartender Frank Meier. Served in a Champagne flute, it is believed to be named after the the mimosa evergreen shrub (Acacia dealbata), which bears flowers of a similar color to the drink.

    The optional addition of a small amount of orange liqueur like Grand Marnier complements the juice and gives the drink more complexity.

    Because of the juice component, the Mimosa is often served at brunch. A Grapefruit Mimosa with grapefruit juice is a popular variation. A related drink, the Buck’s Fizz†, has two parts Champagne to one part juice—and sometimes a splash of grenadine. Created at London’s Buck’s Club by bartender Pat McGarryhe, the Buck’s Fizz predates the Mimosa by about four years.

    If you’re making Mimosas, fresh-squeezed orange juice makes a huge difference. One expert recommends trying different types of orange juice: The sweeter Navel juice vs. the more acidic Valencia, for example. Blood oranges, with their rosy color and raspberry notes, will provide a different experience entirely (and a wonderful one!).

    [Source]
     
    †Buck and mule are old names for mixed drinks made with ginger ale or ginger beer, plus citrus juice. They can be made with any base liquor. Why buck? Why mule? That answer is lost to history, but here’s a detailed discussion.
     
      

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    RECIPE: Bacon & Sweet Potato Biscuits

    Bacon Biscuits

    Cooked & Raw Bacon

    TOP PHOTO: Bacon and sweet potato biscuits from PorkBeInspired.com. BOTTOM PHOTO: When you cook bacon for the biscuits, you can make extra for your eggs.

     

    Is there a better breakfast bread than warm biscuits? This recipe, from PorkBeInspired.com, seems especially right for Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings. If you want, you can use a biscuit mix instead of combining everything from scratch.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 45 minutes. Split leftover biscuits in half horizontally and add sliced ham or other sandwich fixings.

    RECIPE: BACON & SWEET POTATO BISCUITS WITH HONEY BUTTER

    Ingredients For 12 Biscuits
     
    For The Biscuits

  • 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 medium or 2 small orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (14 to 16 ounces total), peeled
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder*
  • 1 tablespoon sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda*
  • 1 teaspoon salt*
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
  • 1 cup buttermilk (regular or lowfat)
  •  
    For The Honey Butter

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Salt
  •  
    *You can substitute the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt for 3 cups of biscuit mix.
     
    Preparation

    1. WRAP the sweet potato with a damp paper towel and microwave on high until very soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, mash with a potato masher and set aside to cool. Meanwhile…

    2. COOK the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until golden and crisp, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, then set aside to cool. Carefully set aside 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings from the skillet.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

    4. COMBINE the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt and allspice in a food processor, and pulse a few times. Add the cubed butter and pulse to make a coarse meal with a few pea-sized pieces. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and gently mix in the bacon, buttermilk and 1 cup of the mashed sweet potato (save any remaining potato for another use—including folding into an omelet to go with the biscuits).

    5. TRANSFER the mixture to a floured work surface and knead a few times to form a dough. Pat the dough to about 1-inch thick, then gently fold in half. Gently repeat 4 more times. Roll the dough out to 3/4-inch thick, then use a floured 2-1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut dough into biscuits, arranging them on the prepared baking sheet. Gather the scraps and repeat to make a total of 12 biscuits. Bake until the biscuits are browned and a tester comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. While the biscuits bake…

    6. COMBINE the softened butter, honey, and reserved bacon drippings, mixing until smooth. Add salt to taste. Serve the biscuits with the honey butter on the side.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Christmas Pancakes

    Orange Cranberry Pancakes

    Artisan Maple Syrup

    Top photo: These festive pancakes taste great even if you don’t stack them. Photo courtesy Zulka Sugar. Bottom photo: Start with quality maple syrup and turn it into cranberry-maple syrup. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     

    We love this festive pancake recipe for the holidays, from Zulka Sugar. It incorporates an array of holiday flavors: cinnamon, cranberry, orange and maple.

    The pancakes and syrup are made from scratch, so it’s a weekend or vacation day recipe in our home.

    RECIPE: ORANGE CINNAMON PANCAKES WITH CRANBERRY MAPLE SYRUP

    Ingredients
     
    For the Pancakes

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • Zest from 2 oranges (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cool
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    For the Cranberry Syrup

  • 1½ cups fresh cranberries
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange zest in a large bowl; whisk to combine.

    2. WHISK the eggs in a small bowl, then add the buttermilk, orange juice and vanilla extract. Add the cooled melted butter and stir again to combine. Add the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes.

    3. MAKE the syrup: Combine 1 cup of the cranberries, the maple syrup, sugar, orange juice and lemon juice in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for 2 minutes. When the cranberries start to pop open, use a spoon to smash some of them against the side of the pan.

    4. COMBINE the cornstarch and a little water in a small bowl, just enough water to make the cornstarch liquid. Pour this into the syrup and bring it back to a boil for one minute. Add the remaining cranberries, turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep warm.

     

    Cranberry Pancakes Stack

    A stack of festive pancakes for the holidays. Photo courtesy Zulka Sugar.

     

    5. PREHEAT a griddle and grease with butter or coconut oil. Pour 1/3 cup batter for each pancake and cook 2-3 minutes or until the pancakes are covered in bubbles and edges are starting to look done. Carefully flip with a spatula and cook another 1-2 minutes or until browned slightly. Keep the pancakes warm and repeat with remaining batter.

    6. SERVE: Place a few pancakes on a plate with 1/3 cup of the cranberry syrup. Serve hot.
     
    ABOUT ZULKA SUGAR

    Zulka sugars are minimally processed from freshly-harvested sugar cane. They are not refined, which helps preserve the fresh flavor and natural properties of the sugar cane. You can taste the difference in a cup of tea.

    Zulka makes granulated, confectioners’ (powdered/10x sugar) and brown sugars. Here’s more about Zulka.

      

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    RECIPE: Holiday Oysters With Cranberry Cocktail Sauce

    Make cranberry cocktail sauce for the holidays. Photo courtesy Willapa Oysters, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

     

    The Pilgrims may well have had oysters at their first harvest feast. We know that mussels were easily picked from rocks along the shore, and oysters were native to the local estuaries, where rivers and streams flowed into the sea.

    Oysters are one of our favorite foods, and a very easy course to prepare. We often serve them as an appetizer at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners.

    Instead of cocktail sauce—ketchup with horseradish—make it seasonal by mixing cranberry sauce with the horseradish. In addition to oysters on the half shell, you can use it as a condiment with fried or roasted oysters.

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY COCKTAIL SAUCE

    You can use any cranberry sauce. For this particular recipe, we use store-bought cranberry sauce since the strong horseradish flavors covers over the flavor nuances of homemade sauce.

    You can purchase prepared horseradish plain (off white color) or red (enhanced with beets). We tend to buy the red version for color, but you can use either.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup cranberry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • Optional: splash of vinegar*
  • Optional: lemon zest
  • Plate garnish: whole raw cranberries, baby arugula or baby spinach
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PULSE the cranberry sauce and horseradish to combine. Taste and add more horseradish or a splash of vinegar as desired.

    2. TOP the plated oysters with the cocktail sauce. Garnish with lemon zest. Garnish the platter with whole cranberries and greens (we like spinach leaves for a holiday look) and serve.
     
    *You can use any vinegar, but balsamic or flavored vinegar (balsamic, fruit or herb vinegar) will add another nuance to the cocktail sauce.
     
      

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    RECIPE: Cranberry Crumb Bars

    For a simple dessert or coffee break snack during the holiday season, try these “crantastic” crumb bars from the talented Lauryn Cohen, a.k.a. Bella Baker. See more of her terrific recipes at BellaBaker.com.

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY CRUMB BARS

    Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2-1/2 sticks cold butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  •  

    cranberry-crumb-bars-bellabaker-230

    Try these crumb bars with a morning cup of coffee or as a snack. Photo courtesy Bella Baker.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line a 9×13 glass baking dish with aluminum foil and spray foil with nonstick spray.

    2. MIX together in a bowl 1-3/4 cups sugar, the oats, flour, almond meal, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Use your fingertips or a pastry cutter to blend in the butter. With a fork, mix in the eggs to create a dough that comes together. The dough will be a little crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the buttered pan.

    3. STIR together in another bowl the second 1-3/4 cups sugar, potato starch, vanilla and orange juice. Mix in the cranberries. Pour the cranberry mixture evenly over the dough in the pan.

    4. CRUMBLE the remaining dough over the berries and gently pat down so that dough is covering all of the cranberries. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown.

    5. COOL completely and chill in the refrigerator before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Flavored Shots Party

    Pinnacle Peppermint Bark Vodka

    Plastic Shot Glasses

    TOP PHOTO: Pinnacle Vodka has 40 flavors, including holiday flavors like Peppermint Bark and Pumpkin Pie. BOTTOM PHOTO: One-ounce, colored shot glasses are the way to go. Photo courtesy Party Essentials.

     

    Looking to do something different for a holiday get-together with friends? While there’s always a holiday drinks menu, here’s an idea that requires no mixing: flavored shots.

    The flavored spirits category is “on fire,” according to Liquor.com. a website for industry professionals. You can now find flavored bourbons and ryes*, in addition to the pioneer category of flavored vodka and the flavored tequilas† that followed vodka’s success.

    Now before the angry comments begin, let us emphasize that this is not a lets-get-loaded shots party. It’s a responsible let’s-taste-some-flavored-spirits-straight opportunity. The novelty for many people is tasting flavored spirits outside of a mixed drink.

    In fact, sipping from a shot glass is our favorite way to enjoy flavored spirits. And for planning purposes, four different flavors are about as much as people should have in an evening, even with designated drivers. While a standard shot is 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) for 80 proof distilled spirits, take it down to 1 ounce.

    What if people want more than four ounces? Flavored club soda or spritzers.
     
    WHERE DO YOU GET THE SHOT GLASSES?

    You can buy clear one-ounce plastic shot glasses or two-ounce shot glasses. They can be washed and reused for another occasion.

    But if you’re serving vodka or tequila, since the sprits are clear, we think colored shot glasses are all-around better. Not only are they festive, but you can color-code the pours.

     
    WHAT FLAVORS SHOULD YOU PICK?

    Your options are based on what spirit you choose. Pinnacle, for example, has more than 40 flavors of vodka. There are large numbers of flavored tequilas, and the numbers get smaller with whiskey.

    For vodka, you can choose four different fruits from the many options, or make the party more holiday-focused with specialty flavors like Pinnacle’s Caramel Apple, Peppermint Bark, Salted Caramel, Whipped Cream and Chocolate Whipped Cream.

     
    But wait: There’s also Cookie Dough, Pecan Pie Vodka and Pumpkin Pie.

    Pinnacle doesn’t make a cranberry vodka, but other distillers do, including Bear Hug, Deep Eddy, Smirnoff and Sobieski.

    And then there’s what your local liquor stores carry—or don’t.
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHOTS AND SHOOTERS

    Both shooters and shots are served in shot glasses. Shots are 100% spirits; shooters are mini-cocktails, combining spirits and/or liqueurs with non-alcoholic mixers.

    Traditionally, both are consumed in one gulp, but we recommend breaking with the tradition of chugging. Chugging is for people who want to make a certain statement; sipping is for people who want to taste what they drink.

    As always, plan ahead for designated drivers and don’t forget the plain or flavored club soda for in-between.
     
    _______________________________________
    *Flavored bourbons include Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon and; Red Stag Black Cherry, Hardcore Cider, Honey Tea and Spiced; and Wild Turkey Spiced Bourbon. Flavored ryes include Pow-Wow Botanical Rye (saffron and orange peel), Even Dewar’s has Highland Honey Scotch. And Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn produces the makes chocolate whiskey. Also look for Bird Dog Maple, a best-seller, and Canadian Mist Peach, among others.

    †There are numerous flavored tequilas: almond, banana, chile, chocolate, coconut, coffee, lime, mandarin, mango, pear, pomegranate, strawberry and watermelon. Check out these.
     
      

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    RECIPES: Cranberry Cheesecake

    We [heart] cheesecake. Every October, we switch to pumpkin cheesecake in its many forms. But as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone, we start baking cranberry cheesecake recipes.

    Because cheesecake is such a rich and heavy dessert, we usually don’t serve it following a big dinner, but as a “tea time” snack (and honestly, we’ve been known to eat it for breakfast).

    The first recipe is a plain cheesecake with a cranberry topping, analogous to cherry cheesecake. The second recipe has a different look, with a cranberry swirl inside the cheesecake and a thin layer of cranberry gelée on top.

    Both recipes are made in a nine-inch springform pan. A nine-inch cake yields 12 slices.

    RECIPE #1: CHEESECAKE WITH CRANBERRY TOPPING

    This recipe is Philadelphia Cream Cheese’s classic cheesecake, with a cranberry topping. The result is the cranberry version of a cherry cheesecake.

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries (half of a 12-ounce package)
  • ½ cup water
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon orange zest
  •    

    Cranberry-Cheesecake-sliced-philadelphia-kraft-230

    Like cherry cheesecake, but with a cranberry topping. Photo courtesy Kraft.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 325°F. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and the butter until blended. Press onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

    2. BEAT the cream cheese and 1 cup of the remaining sugar in a large bowl with a mixer, until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over the crust.

    3. BAKE from 55 minutes to 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the rim of the pan to loosen the cake; cool before removing the rim. Refrigerate the cheesecake 4 hours. (You can leave it in the spring mold for the time being.) Meanwhile…

    4. BRING the cranberries, water, remaining sugar and cinnamon to boil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer on low for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly thickened and the berries have softened; stir occasionally. Cool slightly; thrn refrigerate until ready to serve.

    5. SPREAD the cranberry topping over the cheesecake just before serving.

     

    Cheesecake With Cranberry Gelee

    Fresh Cranberries

    TOP PHOTO: Cooked cranberries are swirled into the cheesecake and puréed into a gelée topping. Photo and recipe courtesy Taste Of Home. BOTTOM PHOTO: Fresh cranberries. Photo courtesy USA Cranberries.

     

    RECIPE #2: CRANBERRY SWIRL CHEESECAKE WITH
    CRANBERRY GELÉE

    In this recipe from Taste Of Home, cooked fresh cranberries are swirled through the batter; and then strained in a food mill or sieve to create a gelée topping.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 55 minutes plus chilling.

    Ingredients For 12 Servings
     
    For The Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker or shortbread cookie crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Place a greased 9-inch springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil, about 18 inches square). Wrap the foil securely around pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.

    2. MIX the graham cracker crumbs and butter in a small bowl and press onto bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 6 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile…

    3. COMBINE the cranberries, sugar and water in a large saucepan. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until the berries pop, about 12-15 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Press the cranberry mixture through a food mill into a small bowl; discard pulp and seeds. Set aside.

    4. MAKE the filling. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Add the eggs and beat on low speed until just blended; pour into the crust. Spoon 1/4 cup of the topping over filling. With knife, cut through the filling to make a cranberry swirl.

    5. PLACE the springform pan in a larger pan and add 1 inch of hot water to larger pan. (This creates a water bath, or bain-marie, which adds moisture to the oven and keeps the top of the cheesecake from cracking.) Bake for 55-65 minutes or until the center is just set and the top appears dull.

    6. REMOVE the springform pan from the water bath. Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides from the pan with a knife; remove the foil.

    7. COOL for 1 hour longer. Pour the remaining topping over cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight, covering the cheesecake when it is completely cooled. Remove the rim from the pan.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Garnish Desserts With Brittle

    If someone gives you brittle—or you’re inspired to make your own—use some of it to garnish desserts.

    Just a few small pieces make almost any dessert even more festive. If you already have “brittle crumbs” at the bottom of the box, so much the better.

    MAKE BRITTLE

    For the holidays, this spicy pumpkin seed brittle recipe is a natural. We also love classic pecan brittle (recipe below).

    You can add dried cranberries to any brittle recipe.
     
    RECIPE: 15-MINUTE MICROWAVE BRITTLE

    You can make this brittle in just 15 minutes, plus cooling time. Make sure everything is in its place before you start cooking, because the brittle sets quickly. This recipe is courtesy of Taste Of Home.

    Ingredients For 1 Pound/16 Servings

  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •    

    mini-pumpkin-pie-brittle-garnish-figandolive-230

    Plain or fancy, almost any dessert perks up with a brittle garnish. Photo courtesy Fig & Olive.

     

    Pumpkin Pie With Brittle Topping

    Turn a plain holiday pie into a festive one
    with brittle. Photo courtesy Midwest Living.

     

    Preparation

    1. GREASE a 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch pan with 2 teaspoons of butter; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the sugar and corn syrup in a 2-quart, microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave uncovered on high for 4 minutes, or until a candy thermometer reads 238°F (soft-ball stage).

    3. ADD the pecans. Microwave for 4 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 300°F (hard-crack stage). The mixture will be very hot. Vigorously stir in the baking soda, vanilla and remaining butter until the mix is blended.

    4. QUICKLY POUR into the prepared pan and spread with a metal spatula as thin as possible.

     
    5. COOL completely, then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers.
     
    NOTES:

  • This recipe was tested in a 1,100-watt microwave.
  • For a 1,650 watt microwave, adjust both cook times to be 3 minutes instead of 4 minutes.
  • Test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.
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