First up this year is a great nibbly treat, on its own or added to a cheese plate, slightly sweet, slightly salty, a bit spicy, mmmm. Best part? It's vegan-friendly AND it makes a perfect homemade hostess gift.
Sweet and Spicy Pecans
2 cups pecans (or any nut)
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
Put the almonds in a glass pie plate and douse with water, mixing well. Combine the rest and mix it with the nuts.
Microwave (uncovered) on high for 2 min, then stir, then follow with another 1 min and, if necessary, another 1 min, until glazed and syrupy (I've made it where it doesn't end up "glazed" and they're just as good). But be careful not to burn (very easy...)
Spread out on parchment paper to cool, breaking apart occasionally. And voila!
Then we have a classic recipe ‘round these parts: melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. My sister sent me this recipe about 25 years ago and I have no idea where she got it, but it is divine. It’s only super-easy if you have one of those stand-alone mixers where you can leave the batter mixing for 10 minutes and go do something else. That said, there were many many years when I did not have the stand-alone and just stood there for 10 minutes with a handheld. Do-able, just boring.
Melt in your mouth Shortbread Cookies
These are more soft puff-balls than elegant flat biscuits. Delicious!
1 cup softened butter
½ cup icing sugar
2 ¼ cups flour
Cream butter and sugar thoroughly. Add flour ¼ cup at a time. Then blend for 10 minutes (on a Kitchen Aid-type mixer, blend at setting 6).
Drop onto greased sheets (or parchment) and put in 325 oven for 15-20 minutes or until just short of golden.
|I bought this $4.00 scoop last year and, man, it makes the cookie dough doling that much easier. Last year, I kept the balls round (as is), but this year, I used a silicone spatula to very gently flatten the cookies before baking.|