Posts Tagged 'Christmas Desserts'

Candied Orange Peel

My last post of the year is a recipe that is a favorite recent discovery: Candied Orange Peel.  I had to make a batch to go into the stollen I baked for the December Daring Bakers’ Challenge; what I thought would be a chore ended up producing a fantastic treat.  I’ve been a lifelong fan of those orange slice candies you can buy in the two-for-a-dollar bags at the grocery store, and candied orange peel tastes very similar.  The benefit of taking the time to make your own?  You get to skip the corn syrup, preservatives, and artificial colors.

Making candied orange peel takes some time, but most of it is hands off.  This would be a perfect project for lounging around during a holiday weekend (like this one!).

Candied Orange Peel
Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:
3 large oranges
2 cups granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
2 cups water

Method:
Using a paring knife, cut away the orange peel (top to bottom) in wide strips.  Trim any extra-thick pith; leaving some pith on the skin is fine.  Cut the peel into 1/4-inch strips.

Place the strips in a large saucepan and cover them with cold water.  Bring the water to a boil and then drain the pot, reserving the orange peel.  Repeat this process two more times.  (It removes the bitterness from the peel and remaining pith.)

Once the strips have been boiled three times, combine the two cups of sugar and two cups of water in the saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.  Wipe the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, then add the orange peels to the boiling syrup. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the peels for an hour. By the end of this time they should be very limp and start to look translucent. Remove the pan from the heat and let the strips cool in the syrup.  (I’ve skipped this step in a rush before and still got a good result.)

Preheat the oven to its lowest setting (170°F at my house).

Take the peels from the syrup and place them on a wire cooling rack set over a baking sheet.  Let them drip and dry for about 30 minutes, then roll them in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.  Place them back on the wire cooling rack and put them in the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove them from the oven and cool to room temperature before serving or dipping in chocolate.

Candied peel will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Adapted from Candied Citrus Peel by Elizabeth LaBau

Candied Orange Peel

I made the candied orange peel in the photo for my family on Christmas Day, and boy did it go over well.  It’s so yummy!  The peel is sweet, orange-y, and chewy; I love the crunchiness of the sugar coating as well.  I thought the chocolate pieces would be gone long before the plain ones, but people ate them pretty equally.  I can’t decide which way I like it best, which is a perfect excuse to make both types, right?

Like the stollen, this is another recipe I plan to make year after year.  Hope the holiday season has been wonderful for each of you, and Happy New Year!

Advertisements

Barrington Mints

Who says cream cheese mints are only for weddings?

I came across the recipe for Barrington Mints as I was paging through my copy of The Rocky Mountain Sweet Shoppe Cookbook a few weeks ago.  I’ve only ever sampled cream cheese mints on Midwestern wedding dessert tables, but they seemed easy and festive enough to fit the Christmas bill.  Despite a mild misadventure (I’ll tell you after the recipe!) and an extreme piping strength requirement, I was pretty pleased with the results.

Barrington Mints
Makes 150 mints

Ingredients:
8 ounces soft cream cheese (I used Philadelphia regular)
6 tablespoons soft butter (I used unsalted)
3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (NOT mint extract)
2 pounds sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 drops red food coloring (Mine is pretty strong, so I used only one)

Method:
Melt the cream cheese with the butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Turn off the heat, leaving the pan on the burner, and stir in about 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, food coloring, and vanilla. (My note: Add peppermint here as well.)  Stir in the rest of the sugar until well blended.

Line a large baking sheet with wax paper.  Push mint mixture into a pastry bag, icing syringe or squeeze bottle with a decorative tip.  Create desired shapes for mints.  Let set 1 hour.

Store between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month, or in the freezer up to 4 months.  Do not store at room temperature.

Barrington Mints

Aren’t they pretty?  They taste just like other cream cheese mints I’ve tried: sweet, minty, and melt-in-your-mouth creamy.  Despite Dr. O’s raging sweet tooth, we are never going to get through this many mints; thankfully, we have a few dinner guests coming later this month who might be willing to help.

As for the misadventure, I had piped 20 or 30 mints when I realized that I hadn’t added the peppermint extract.  I just realized (as I was typing this post), that what seemed like a spacey mistake was probably actually the result of the fact that they don’t specifically mention adding the peppermint in the recipe instructions. Whoops.  Anyway, I just tossed my mixture back in the pot, turned the heat on medium-low, added the peppermint extract, and then stirred the mixture for a minute or two until I was confident that it was pretty evenly incorporated.  Problem solved.

It’s also worth noting that I had to let these set in the refrigerator (not on the counter) so they would firm up enough to hold their shape when I pulled them off of the wax paper.  Since they get softer the longer they sit at room temperature, I would probably put a plate of these out when I serve dessert rather than have them sit on a buffet for hours.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Does anyone else still have cranberries left over from Thanksgiving?  Since they keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and also freeze beautifully, I’ve been steadily working my way through the half-full jumbo bag my mom sent home with us last month.  Today’s recipe – Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake from the December 2010 issue of Cooking Light – was a special request from my darling husband.  The dessert looked so good on the cover of the magazine that we just had to try it.

Since the process was a bit long, I’ll spare you the play-by-play today.  I did have several issues and modifications, though.

  • When I bake cheesecakes in a water bath, I always use the 18-inch-wide heavy-duty Reynolds foil because it allows me to wrap the entire 9-inch springform pan with one piece.  When I would overlap two pieces of the 12-inch foil in the past, I would consistently get leakage and a soggy crust.  I bring the foil all the way up the sides and then roll any excess at the top into a “lip” so the foil doesn’t extend down into the pan.  Works like a charm!
  • The only chocolate graham crackers my grocery store had were chocolate Teddy Grahams, so that’s what I bought.  Once they’re ground up, they’re pretty much all the same, right?
  • There was no way I was going to put oil in my cheesecake crust, so I substituted 3 tablespoons of melted butter for the 3 tablespoons of canola oil.
  • I didn’t have any Chambord and I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle for the recipe, so I bought two mini bottles at the liquor store for $5.  (I have half of one bottle left.)
  • I don’t know if it was the saucepan I used (a hard anodized Calphalon) or the fact that water evaporates more quickly at high altitude, but my cranberry topping was initially more like candied cranberries than sauce (and that was even after I shaved a minute off of the cooking time).  I ended up adding 5 tablespoons of water to the sauce in the food processor step to thin it out.
  • I don’t ever use fat-free cream cheese (it’s like plastic!), so I used all reduced-fat cream cheese instead of using both types.
  • I used Fage 0% for the Greek yogurt.
  • My whole eggs were room temperature; my egg whites were pretty cold. (Eggs separate best when they’re fresh from the refrigerator.)
  • Many of the recipe reviewers complained that a 9-inch springform pan won’t fit inside a 9 x 13-inch metal pan for the water bath, and it’s true.  Luckily, I have a large lasagna pan (11 x 16) that worked well.
  • I boiled my water in a tea kettle before pouring it around the foil-wrapped cheesecake.
  • The recipe indicated that the cheesecake should barely move in the center after 50 minutes of baking time at 325°F.  Several reviewers said they had to add baking time, whether it was 5 minutes, 20 minutes, or more.  I ended up giving my cheesecake 65 minutes at 325°F before turning off the oven and giving it 30 minutes of in-oven cooling time.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

This recipe isn’t going to knock my all-time favorite cheesecake (Margarita Cheesecake!) off its throne, but it was pretty fantastic (and far more seasonally appropriate).  This recipe produced a light, fluffy, creamy texture and I loved the play between the slightly tart cranberry topping and the sweetness of the cheesecake.  One of the recipe reviewers on the Cooking Light site said that she didn’t like the chocolate crust because it created “too many flavors” in the final result; I think chocolate and cranberry go together beautifully, though, so I loved it. It was a bit challenging to get the crust out when I cut the first piece (the first piece is always the hardest!), but subsequent pieces came out easily.

I’ve made quite a few cheesecakes and have a pretty sensitive palate, so I could tell this was a lower-fat cheesecake.  I don’t think your average dinner guest would have an inkling, though.  Since this cheesecake is gorgeous, delicious, and able to be made ahead, I’m definitely putting it in my holiday recipe arsenal.

Recipe link: Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake




The Daring Kitchen

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 562 other followers

I want to cook…

Archives

Advertisements