Tag Archives: sweets

Cranberry Pecan Shortbread Blondies

NanaBread's Cranberry Pecan Shortbread Blondies. Wish you could smell them!

If that name sounds a little confusing, I’m with you. The truth is, this recipe is a combination of two of my favorites – buttery shortbread and soft, chewy sugar cookies. And you know what? It works. It has all of the glorious flavor of butter shortbread with the soft chewy texture of a good sugar cookie. Throw in some dried cranberries and some toasted pecans, and you have what I’m calling Cranberry Pecan Shortbread Blondies. Works for me!

Here’s how to make them for your family:

2 sticks (8 ozs.) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 extra-large or jumbo egg
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 cup pecans, toasted & finely chopped
1/3 cup turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top

Pre-heat your oven to 350F, then line a 13″ x 9″ baking pan with parchment paper. I like to leave some hanging over each side, making a sling which allows the cooled cookies to be removed from the pan more easily. Set the pan aside.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the softened butter and granulated sugar; beat slowly until combined, then turn to med-high speed and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the salt and flour. Stir in the cranberries and nuts and toss to coat them with flour.

Turning the mixer to low speed, add the flour mixture and beat just until well combined. The dough will be thick. Using a spatula, turn the dough out into the baking pan. Using another sheet of parchment or waxed paper, cover the dough and using your hands, press the dough out to each side, smoothing it into a uniform thickness (mine was about 3/4″ thick). Once your cookie dough is smooth and even, remove the top sheet of paper.

Score your cookie dough & sprinkle with turbinado sugar crystals

Using a bench scraper or metal spatula (I grew up calling them pancake flippers), score the dough as you would for shortbread. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly over the cookie dough. Place on the middle rack in the center of your oven and bake 30-40 minutes, or until the cookies have that fabulous browned butter smell and are a light golden brown. When I bake buttery shortbread cookies, I always know when they’re done by the smell. If you know what I’m talking about, raise your hand. It’s such a heavenly aroma.

A bench scraper is the perfect tool for shaping & cutting these cookies

Once done, remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Using the same bench scraper or spatula, cut the cookies along the score lines. Now all you need is a cold glass of milk or a hot cup of tea. Then treat yourself. Sit back and savor the contrast of flavors and textures – tart cranberries paired with buttery shortbread; soft chewy crumb with a crunchy sugar topping. Maybe I’m playing favorites, but I think this cookie has it all.

Soft and chewy; buttery and tangy; and totally addictive

I apologize for all the sugar on the blog for the past week. I promise I’ll make it up to you next week with something savory or a craft tutorial. Deal? Awesome!

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TCP Cooks: Raspberry Ice Cream

TCP's homemade raspberry ice cream

Those of you who visit this blog regularly know that The Complete Package, my beloved husband, loves to make ice cream. He has ever since he brought Christine home. Using a knock-off recipe for Ben & Jerry’s Sweet Cream Base, he has experimented with many flavor combinations. Some were treasures (coffee, maraschino cherry & pecan, peanut butter) and some were just plain good (coconut, peppermint brownie chunk). This weekend, while I was visiting the kids in Austin, TCP tried a new one – raspberry. It’ not just good, it’s fabulous. Like seriously wonderful. Last night, he kicked it up a notch and made me a raspberry milkshake. While I watched The Bachelor. And it was life altering. Here’s how he did it.

The Complete Package’s Raspberry Ice Cream:

For the raspberry puree:
2 cartons of fresh raspberries (6 ozs. each)
3/4 cup sugar
water

Combine raspberries and sugar in a saucepan; add just enough water to cover the berries and whisk with an immersion blender. Bring to a rolling boil so sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Strain to remove the seeds, and set it aside to cool down to room temperature.

For the ice cream custard:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
raspberry puree (from above)

Whisk the eggs in a bowl until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Whisk in the sugar a little at a time until completely blended, then beat one minute more. Add the cream and milk and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add in the salt, vanilla extract, and cooled raspberry puree; whisk until smooth. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze. (Note: you may have to divide the mixture in half and run as two batches depending on the size of your ice cream maker.)

Makes approximately 1 quart. Or 8 bowls. Or 10 milkshakes. Or 1 really colossal ice cream binge (including freezy headache). Consider yourself warned.

PS – Yes, I posted two ice cream stories in a row. For that, I sincerely apologize. To make up for it, I’ll be posting a soup recipe later in the week. It’s delicious and healthy, so thanks in advance for forgiving me.

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A Recipe Review: A Sweet Pea Chef’s Easy Crème Brulée

Food bloggers amaze me. Their dedication to cooking, staging and documenting recipes knocks me out. How do they do it day after day after day? My fellow blogger Lacey at A Sweet Pea Chef is one of those amazing people. Browsing her recipes and photos is like browsing through food porn. It is a glorious, guilty pleasure. But my favorite thing about Lacey’s blog is that her recipes are not just pretty. They are easy to understand, easy to prepare, and unbelievably tasty. She’s the real deal. She loves to cook and she happily shares that love with her readers. It’s just one of the many reasons I love her beautiful blog.

Every once in a while, Lacey will post a food poll, letting her readers choose recipes or topics that will be covered at a future date. One such poll featured possible dessert recipes. Choices included crème brulée, carrot cake cheesecake, lemon bars, oatmeal raisin cookies and cranberry sorbet. I was intrigued by the carrot cake cheesecake, but I voted for crème brulée. Several times {wink}. Why? Because I love simple foods with tremendous flavor, and crème brulée is one of those foods. Four ingredients. Full of flavor. Out of this world texture. I’m in.

The recipe says “easy” and by golly, she wasn’t kidding. You combine 4 ingredients, pour them into ramekins and bake them in a water bath. The cast of characters include 5 egg yolks, 2 cups of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. For this recipe, I broke out the good stuff – the pure vanilla bean paste. If you’ve never tried this stuff, you have to. This recipe is perfect for it. If I were making a chocolate cake, I would most definitely use the regular vanilla extract. But for this dish, the good stuff really shines.

Once your little pots of creme are baked and cooled, it’s decision time. You can stop here and just enjoy this as an incredible custard, or you can pour some sugar on it and brulée those puppies. I’m going whole hog. Conveniently, TCP just happens to have one of those baby blow torches. “Break out the blow torch, honey! I’m gonna’ burn some sugar, Sugar!” Fingers crossed that I don’t burn the house down. Oven mitt? Check. Fire extinguisher? Check. Let’s roll!

The verdict: this stuff is almost too good to be true. It’s so easy and inexpensive to make, it makes me a little angry at all those hoity-toity restaurants that charge $12.50 a serving for it. Shame on them. Deep, money-grubbing shame. Thanks to Lacey, I can now make fabulous crème brulée at home. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. Good because this recipe is really fantastic. Bad because I really shouldn’t have the power to make this all the time. I’m having a vision of “Good Nana” and “Bad Nana” sitting on each shoulder screaming at each other. (Secretly, I’m rooting for Bad Nana. Go, Bad Nana! You go with your bad self!)

To see this recipe with all of the glorious step-by-step photos, visit Lacey’s blog at: http://www.asweetpeachef.com/sweets/easy-creme-brulee/

PS – A very special thank you to Katie at Lucky Girl Sweets ‘n Stuff. She selected my name for her first giveaway last week, which happened to be those super cute red ramekins. They look just like miniature Le Crueset Dutch ovens. They are too stinkin’ cute, and perfect for crème brulée. Thanks, Katie! I love them. You should click on the link above and drop in on her. She’s a feisty Texan like me. And tell her I said “howdy!”

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