Cranberry Walnut Cookies

DSC02529 2I spent a very snowy Saturday afternoon baking these white chocolate,  cranberry and walnut cookies for two holiday parties.  My mom often makes a similar recipe this time of year, so there is something about cranberries and white chocolate that always reminds me of Christmas. Walnuts or macadamia nuts (your choice) add the perfect amount of texture and savory to this recipe.  The below recipe yields roughly 2 dozen cookies. I doubled it, and highly recommend baking a larger batch if you can bring them to work or another event, as they go fast!

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You Will Need:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup walnuts or macadamia nuts, chopped
  • parchment paper

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Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and both sugars together until smooth. Add the vanilla and egg, mixing well.

3.  Sift together the flour and baking soda. Spoon the flour mixture gradually into the creamed sugar mixture.

DSC025244.  Stir in the cranberries, white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. Drop by heaping spoonfuls, about 2 tablespoons, onto the prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

DSC025265.  Bake until lightly golden on top and the edges are set, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on the sheet about 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

6.  Eat and enjoy! If baking ahead of time, be sure to store cookies in an airtight container or bag.

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Happy Holiday Baking! xo

*Recipe adapted from Food Network

Pinspiration: Holiday Crafting and Baking

Welcome, December! I’ve been eagerly awaiting your arrival.

The holiday season always brings out an excessive need in me to craft and bake, as evidenced by a few of last year’s posts: DIY holiday wreath, cookie-in-a-jar gift, christmas cupcakes with eggnog frosting,…

Here are a few fabulous decorating and baking ideas that I am dying to try out for this Christmas:

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I love this rustic Holiday Wreath by Two Junk Chix

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The earthy look of this organic fireplace and mantle decor from Midwest Living is so appealing

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These salted caramel pears from Inspired Design make the perfect edible centerpiece

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This hat pattern from Ravelry is an inspiration to step up my knitting game this season – handmade gifts are the best kind!

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This “gingerbread men turned reindeer” cookie recipe from Martha Stewart might be the perfect activity for when my nieces come to visit!

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I’m in love with the simplicity and clean look of this tablescape from Lemonade Makin’ Mama – just white candles and loose jingle bells!

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Another fantastic edible gift (or party) idea – Eggnog Fudge from Recipe Girl

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This would be a lovely idea for a crafting party – make your own ornaments with instructions from Downtime. Upcycle.

Are you as pin-spired as I am?  Of course, I’ll be lucky if I actually get to 2-3 of these fabulous ideas!

I’d love to hear some of your favorite craft ideas and recipes for the holiday season. Have a lovely weekend, xo!

Angel Food Cake with Blackberry Buttercream Frosting

TGIF every lovely body!! I’m totally living up the unemployed life today and heading to the gym (to work off the cake from last night), then out with my ladies tonight in the city.  Also, the sun is shining, and we’re headed for a Giants superbowl victory on Sunday.  Nothing but happy things in my life today 🙂

Yesterday was my step mother Emily’s birthday!! Even though she had to work on her birthday, we had a great family dinner and I got to make a birthday cake yesterday!  Having a purpose for baking is always great, and I got to surprise everyone with my cake-type choice.  After seeing a delicious cupcake recipe on pinterest which used lemon cake and each was topped with a blackberry, I devised my own plan.  The end result was beautiful, and delicious:

Angel Food Cake with Blackberry Buttercream[cheese] Frosting

 For the Cake:

You Will Need:

  • 12 Egg Whites
  • 1 1/4 cups Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps Cream of Tartar
  • 1 1/2 tsps Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • [I added 2 drops of red food coloring to make the cake slightly pink!]

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450˚ F. Separate eggs; discard yolks or refrigerate for another use. Measure egg whites, adding or removing whites as needed to equal 1-1/2 cups. Place in a mixing bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sift confectioners’ sugar and flour together three times; set aside. Add cream of tartar, extracts and salt to egg whites; beat on high speed. Gradually add sugar, beating until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Fold in flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.
  3. Pour into two 8″ round pans, that have been greased and lightly floured. Gently bang pans against the counter to knock out the air bubbles.  Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.
  4. Let cool completely before removing cake halves from pan.  When ready, gently turn the pan upside down over a plate and hit the bottom.  The cake should come out easily.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes.

**Don’t be afraid to use cake from a box, and any kind of cake you want – lemon, chocolate, etc.  The frosting is what really makes it, and would be delicious in many combinations!

For the Frosting:

You Will Need:

  • 2 sticks of room temperature Butter
  • 1 packet softened Cream Cheese
  • 12 oz. jar of Blackberry Preservatives
  • 4-5 cups Confectioners’ Sugar

Directions:

  1. Add butter and blackberry preservatives together. Mix on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. 
  2. Add cream cheese, one half of a packet at a time.  Again, mix on medium speed about 2-3 minutes, until well-mixed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  3. Slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, until reaching the desired consistency.  I left mine a little softer and stopped about 4 cups, so that I could spread the frosting.  If using in a piping bag, I suggest using all 5 cups.

*Note:  This frosting is a hybrid between cream cheese and buttercream frosting.  To make traditional buttercream frosting, use only the butter, sugar, and about 8 oz. of the jam.

Now comes the fun part – decorating!!

To Assemble Your Cake:

  1. Center one half of the cake on a cake plate.  Cover the top with frosting, forming a thick layer of frosting between the two layers of cake.  Next, center the top layer of cake over the bottom one.  Cover both layers and side with frosting, smoothing out the sides and top with a rubber spatula.  
  2. Next, go wild!! I added fresh blackberries along the perimeter of the cake, as well as silver star shaped sprinkles to add some sparkle! (It was a birthday cake, after all!)Serve and Enjoy!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend! xo.