Sweet holiday gifts from the oven

By on December 8, 2011

Welcome to Rosie’s whirlwind December. Every Christmas season, I bake. And when I say “bake,” I’m talking 30-plus different items — cookies, candies, fudge, biscotti — you name it.

I pack all this into sparkly gift containers for family, friends, and neighbors.

The Hawthorne kitchen kicks into gear the first week in December and continues until Christmas Eve. As I bake, I put everything in freezer bags and Tupperware and put it in the freezer. I assemble the trays on Christmas Eve and distribute them, except for the ones I’ve already mailed out.

This year, you’re invited to come along for the ride, or as I like to call it, the Rosiethon.

My Christmas present for my readers is Twelve Days of Christmas Baking. Each installment, I’ll be offering you a favorite recipe to try for your own Christmas baking. These are all tested recipes that I’ve been making for over 20 years and I hope they become some of your favorite Christmas recipes too.

The one I get the most requests and comments on is one of the simplest — Nut and Berry Bark — a combination of white chocolate with dried cranberries and toasted pistachios.

Day 1: Nut and Berry Bark

3 cups shelled, raw, unsalted pistachios
3 cups dried cranberries
2 ½ pounds white chocolate, finely chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place pistachios in a baking pan and bake for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not overcook or the pistachios will lose their bright green color. Remove from oven and set aside.

Place a steamer basket in a medium saucepan filled with ½ inch of water. Bring to boil over moderately high heat. Put cranberries in basket, cover, and steam for 3-4 minutes until soft and moist. Transfer berries to a paper towel. Blot dry and let cool.

Place the chocolate in a bowl set over simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted.

Reserve 4 TB each of the cranberries and the greenest of the pistachios. Stir remaining cranberries and pistachios into chocolate mixture. Turn mixture out onto 2 parchment-lined 10 x 14-inch baking sheets. Using an offset spatula, spread mixture evenly. Scatter reserved nuts and berries over top and refrigerate until hardened. Break into pieces.

Find more on Rosie Hawthorne’s blog, Kitchens Are Monkey Business »

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