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    Homemade Christmas Marmalade

    Celebrate winter’s best citrus with this easy Homemade Christmas Marmalade. What makes it Christmassy? Cranberries! They give the marmalade tart flavor and a gorgeous red hue.

    I can’t think of a more perfect edible Christmas gift than a jar of this homemade cranberry marmalade. Two of the season’s most celebrated flavors are combined with sugar, then boiled down to sweet, jammy goodness that you can spread on toast. It looks beautiful divvied up in clear canning jars, and it’s so versatile! It’s delicious as the usual breakfast condiment, but it’s also wonderful served alongside roast turkey at Christmas dinner.

    Homemade Christmas Marmalade ingredients.

    Prep the oranges.
    The first order of business is to remove the peel (and not the white pith) from the oranges. After trying every peeler in my utensil drawer, I found that a Euro peeler like this KitchenAid variety did the job best. After all of the oranges are peeled, cut the peels into fine strips using a knife.
    Cut away the white pith from the oranges using a serrated knife, then chop the oranges into pieces. No need to remove the membranes – they’ll cook down and help the marmalade to set because they naturally contain pectin. If you have any large extra-tough pieces of membrane from around the navel of the oranges, go ahead and discard them.

    Into the cooking pot.
    Place the orange pieces along with the juice, chopped fresh cranberries, and sugar in a large pot. Stir them together and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a full boil. Cook the mixture over the hard boil for about 30 seconds, then remove from the heat.

    Add one pouch of liquid pectin to the mixture and stir well. Even though the orange membranes have natural pectin in them, it’s not quite enough to fully set the marmalade. So, we’re helping it along a little bit.
    Off the heat, add the orange peel, some fine lemon zest, and lemon juice. Return the pot to medium high heat and bring back to a full boil. Cook the mixture for 3 minutes with a timer set. Skim any foam from the top of the mixture with a spoon, stirring intermittently to help dissolve the foam.

    Pour the marmalade into sterilized 8 oz. canning jars. See my Port Wine Jelly blog post for pictures of the easy technique I use to prep my jars and lids. Wipe the rim of each jar with a damp towel to make sure it’s clean. This is especially important if you’re processing your jars in a water bath. The jars won’t seal if there’s a trace of sugar syrup on them.

    To water bath, or not to water bath?
    Immerse the jars into a simmering water bath that completely covers their tops. I use a canning set with a rack, but you could simply put the jars in a large pot without a rack. Boil them for 10 minutes, then remove them from the bath to cool at room temperature. When you hear the lids pop, they are sealed. Sealed jars of marmalade are shelf stable for up to two years.
    However, if you don’t want to go the water bath route, the filled jars can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. If you plan to give these as gifts, make sure you tell the recipient that the marmalade requires refrigeration.

    Homemade Christmas Marmalade

    I used Avery printable gift tags (80511) with one of their online templates to create some cute hang tags for my gifts. You can make your own, or click here to download my printable version!

    Homemade Christmas Marmalade

    Heather Baird

    Homemade Christmas Marmalade is made using the season’s best flavors: oranges and cranberries. A jar makes a beautiful gift for holiday hosts, friends, family, – any deserving person will enjoy receiving a jar. It is delicious on toast, or served alongside roast turkey for Christmas dinner. This easy recipe can be completed from start to finish in just a couple of hours, including the water bath canning method. However, if you’d rather skip the water bath, the marmalade will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 1 whole month. Yields about five 8 oz. jars.

    #wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-full svg * { fill: #5A822B; }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-33 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-50 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-66 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66); }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }No ratings yet

    Prep Time 35 minsCook Time 25 mins10 minutes water bath 10 minsTotal Time 1 hr 10 mins

    Course Breakfast, Dessert, Jams and JelliesCuisine American, Scottish

    Servings 5 jars

    Equipment5 canning jars with lids, 8 oz. capacitywater bath canner with rack optional
    Ingredients  4 large navel oranges1 cup chopped fresh cranberries4 1/4 cups granulated sugar3/4 cup water1 tablespoon lemon zest grated fine2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice3 oz. liquid fruit pectin one pouch such as Certo
    Instructions Scrub the whole navel oranges under running tap water with a scrub brush. Pat dry. Wash and dry fresh cranberries. Leave them to further dry while you sterilize the canning jars.Sterilize jars and lids by dipping them in a pot of boiling water. Set aside on dishtowels to dry. They will dry almost instantly as the hot water evaporates quickly.Remove the zest from the oranges, avoiding the white pith just below the orange skin. Use a vegetable peeler for quick work (see blog post for link). Cut the peel into fine strips.Cut the white pith away from the oranges using a serrated knife. Chop the oranges with membranes into pieces and transfer them, along with their juices to a large cooking pot. (If there are any particularly tough pieces of membrane, such as the tough ring around the navel orange, discard it.) Add the cranberries and sugar to the pot. Stir well.Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat (this may take about 15-20 minutes) stirring frequently. When the mixture is boiling vigorously, cook for 30 seconds with a timer set while stirring constantly. Remove from the heatStir in the pectin and lemon juice (the acid from the lemon juice activates the pectin, so don’t skip this ingredient). Add the orange peel and fine lemon zest. Return the pot to medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the mixture boils, cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.Stir the mixture and skim off any large areas of foam on top of the marmalade.Pour the marmalade into the sterilized jars. Wipe the jar rims with a damp cloth and lid the jars. If you’re not using the water bath canning method, allow the jars to cool to room temperature before storing them in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.For the water bath canning method, immerse the jars into a simmering water bath that completely covers their tops. I use a canning set with a rack, but you could simply put the jars in a large pot without a rack. Boil them for 10 minutes, then remove them using tongs from the bath to cool at room temperature. When you hear the lids pop, they are sealed. Sealed jars of marmalade are shelf stable for up to two years.
    NotesThis marmalade can be stored in the freezer. Use freezer jars that can be found in the grocery store canning section. Jar and freeze them for up to 1 year. 
    This recipe was adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. 

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    Cherry Amaretti Trifles

    No-bake Cherry Amaretti Trifles will help you entertain with ease this holiday season. Mascarpone cream is layered with spiced cherry jam and crushed crisp amaretti cookies.

    This is a wonderful little recipe that requires no cooking and no baking – there’s just a little assembly required. It’s perfect for entertaining because the trifles can be made ahead. Mascarpone cream layered with amaretti cookies gives the dessert Italian flair, while spiced cherry preserves provides a tart foil for all that creamy richness.

    Cherry Amaretti Trifles

    Cheesy cream filling.
    Whip together 8 oz. of mascarpone cheese, heavy whipping cream, a little sugar, and a splash of amaretto liqueur in a bowl until thick and fluffy. This creates a light cream filling reminiscent of cheesecake. It’s so silky and decadent!

    Sweet layers.
    Transfer the cream into a piping bag with the end snipped. Fill 4 oz. capacity dessert cups about 1/4 full with the mascarpone cream. Next, layer in some crispy crushed amaeretti cookies. You can find these in the international section at US grocery stores, or at specialty food shops (Lazzaroni Amaretti is an excellent choice!)
    Next, layer in some prepared cherry or red fruit preserves. I used Murray’s Spiced Cherry Preserves in this recipe because almond + cherry are a match made in heaven! It has a unique, almost mulled wine flavor, with cloves and balsamic vinegar reduction. However, you can use any fruit preserve in this recipe, but red preserves look especially festive at Christmastime.

    Repeat the mascarpone and crushed amaretti layer once more before topping the cups with whipped cream. Dollop it on with a spoon, or pipe it as I did using a large closed star piping tip.
    A sprinkle of toasted pine nuts on top of each dessert adds delicious nutty flavor and makes a beautiful finishing touch.

    The trifles look elegant in footed dessert glasses and presented on a serving tray. You can make them a day ahead, reserving the toasted pine nuts and crisp whole amaretti cookie toppings until ready to serve. The crisp amaretti cookies will soften slightly in the refrigerator overnight, which gives them cake-like texture.

    Related recipe: Wintry Coconut Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes

    Cherry Amaretti Trifles

    Heather Baird

    These small Italian-inspired trifles make holiday entertaining a breeze. The recipe uses purchased crisp amaretti cookies and prepared cherry preserves for shortcuts, with a homemade whipped mascarpone cream filling.Assemble the trifles partially a day ahead of time. Layer the cream, preserves, crushed cookies, and whipped cream in clear glasses but wait until the day of serving to add the pine nuts, and crisp whole amaretti cookies.I used Murray’s spiced cherry preserves in this recipe. It can be found at some US grocery stores (such as Kroger’s) or ordered online. It has unique flavor with cloves and balsamic vinegar reduction. However, you can use any fruit preserve in this recipe, but red berry of fruit preserves looks especially festive at Christmastime.

    #wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-full svg * { fill: #5A822B; }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-33 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-50 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-66 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66); }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }No ratings yet

    Prep Time 45 minsTotal Time 45 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American, Italian-inspired

    Servings 6

    Equipment6 clear footed dessert glasses 4 oz. capacitydisposable piping bagslarge closed star decorator piping tip optional
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Trifles8 oz. container mascarpone cheese softened1 cup heavy whipping cream1/4 cup granulated sugar1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur optional5 oz. crisp amaretti cookies 1 package5 oz. prepared spiced cherry preserves or other red fruit preservesToppings3/4 cup heavy whipping cream2 tablespoons granulated sugar6 crisp amaretti cookies whole3 tablespoons pine nuts toasted
    Instructions TriflesIn the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese and the heavy cream together until combined. Slowly sprinkle in the granulated sugar as you mix. When the mixture is thickened, beat in the amaretto liqueur, if using. Transfer the cream mixture to a large piping bag with the end snipped. Pipe the cream into each of six 4 oz. clear footed dessert cups about 1/4 full. Spread the top evenly to the edges of the glass using a spoon.Remove 6 whole amaretto cookies from the package and reserve for later. Crush the remaining cookies. Add about 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of the crumbs to each of the cups, spread the crumbs to the edges of the glass using a spoon.Stir the preserves until loosened. Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of the preserves on top of the crushed cookies in each cup. Spread to the edges of the glass using a spoon.Repeat the mascarpone layer once more on to of each layer of preserves. Top the mascarpone layer with more cookie crumbs (you may not have to use all of the crumbs).ToppingsIn the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream while sprinkling in the granulated sugar. When the mixture is thick, dollop spoonfuls on top of each dessert cup. Or use a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip to pipe on a large swirl of whipped cream (as pictured).Just before serving, top the desserts with the pine nuts and a single crisp amaretti cookie.
    If you’re not inclined to use pine nuts on top of these dessert, try toasted almonds. They go so well with the almond amaretti cookies.
    Toast pine nuts in the microwave for a shortcut! Here’s how. Spread the raw pine nuts on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave at 100% power for about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Stir them around and heat in additional 30 second intervals until toasted and golden. be sure to watch them constantly to prevent burning. Pine nuts can be expensive, and I consider them an extra special touch for the holidays. So keep a sharp eye on them!
    8 oz. of cream cheese can be used in place of the mascarpone cheese.

    Keyword amaretti cookies, Cherry Amaretti Trifles, mascarpone cream, spiced cherry preserves, toasted pine nuts

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    Christmas Dessert Board

    Learn how to make a crowd-pleasing Christmas Dessert Board! Build your own board around a homemade touch, while adding semi-homemade and store-bought treats.

    ‘Tis the season for lots of sweets! And what better way to serve them to a crowd than with an abundant, filled-to-the-brim dessert board? I was asked by my friends at to create a guide for building a board that won’t keep you in the kitchen all day. This assembly holds everything your party guests could ask for, including scratch-made shortbread cookies, rich layered cheesecake bars, and a host of semi-homemade and purchased sweets.

    One dough, three cookies!
    This scratch-made cookie is perfect for filling up real estate on a large dessert board. And who doesn’t love shortbread? Whip up one barely sweet shortbread dough and divide it into three portions. Then, add sweet or savory ingredients to each dough. Toffee-chocolate chip, orange-cranberry, and savory smoked cheddar jalapeno cookies are all made from the same dough! Get the recipe at at this link: Gift or Enjoy: Endlessly Customizable Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe.

    Layered cheesecake bars.
    This is another homemade touch that will really make your dessert board special. Cheesecake bars are classic, but this recipe gives them a twist. Make three flavors of cheesecake from one pan of cheesecake bars: Peppermint Patty, Cookies ‘n Cream, and Pecan Pie. Get the tutorial and recipe on Endlessly Customizable Layered Cheesecake Bars.

    Semi-homemade treats.
    Some ready-made sweets just need a little dressing up for the holidays. Crushed peppermint and holiday sprinkles can make ordinary sweets look magical! And they’re easy to put together (kids can help!). Find instructions to make these treats in the photo gallery on

    Purchased sweets.
    Seek out colorful and beautiful ready-made ingredients to make your board extra-festive. You can’t go wrong with Sconza’s Holiday Jordan Almonds. I admire this company so much, because they take such care to make all of their sweets beautiful – so you can take them straight from the package and add them to your arrangement. I also used their Milk and White Chocolate Cherries and Gingerbread Toffee Mixed Nuts.

    Christmas Dessert Board
    The photo gallery on has all the information on how to put your own board together, including choosing a board, using containers, and styling tips for a gorgeous spread. See it all in a clickable slide show HERE on
    Related recipe: The Ultimate Southern Brunch Board with Homemade Pimiento Cheese

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    Easy Toffee Walnut Bars

    Easy Toffee Walnut Bars are crowd-pleasing treats and only require a few ingredients! Add them to your cookie baking roster this holiday season.

    If you like to bake-and-give for the holidays, then you should add these to your short list. One pan makes a whole bunch of servings, and everyone loves them. They are chewy and chocolaty with a crumbly shortbread base. I make them year-round, because they are one of my husband’s favorite treats, plus they are SO EASY. Casual as they may be to make, they still taste special enough to make an appearance on fancy Christmas cookie trays.

    Shortbread base.
    Whisk together flour and confectioners’ sugar. Then blend a whole cup of butter into the flour mixture. I used a big serving fork’s tines to mash the butter into the flour to fine crumbs. But you could use a pastry blender if you have one.

    Press the crust mixture into the bottom of an aluminum foil-lined and greased 13×9 baking pan. The flour mixture packs well under your palms, or use the flat bottom of a measuring cup.

    The easiest filling!
    In a separate bowl, beat together sweetened condensed milk, an egg, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.

    Add to this mixture a bag of milk chocolate-covered toffee bits (such as Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits) and chopped English walnuts. Mix this all together until all the bits are well dispersed.

    Next, pour the mixture over the crust and and bake. The Heath bits and sweetened condensed milk mixture will puff and turn golden as it bakes, creating a chewy crave-worthy toffee topping.
    Easy Toffee Walnut Bars

    I couldn’t help but add an extra drizzle of chocolate on top of each square. This can be optional, but it makes a really pretty presentation. When the chocolate is set, they package up neatly in cellophane bags for gift giving. They also look really pretty on a dessert buffet arranged with some Florentine Cookie Bars.

    Easy Toffee Walnut Bars

    Heather Baird

    These bars are always a hit with their buttery shortbread crust and chewy toffee topping. Made with mostly pantry staples, they come together quickly and are easy to package for holiday gift giving.You can find the Heath milk chocolate-covered toffee bits in the baking aisle at most US grocery stores next to the chocolate chips. If you can’t find the bits, you may buy Heath milk chocolate-covered toffee bars and crush them with a rolling pin to create the 8 oz. of bits needed for the recipe.

    #wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-full svg * { fill: #5A822B; }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-33 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-50 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-66 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66); }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }No ratings yet

    Prep Time 10 minsCook Time 40 minsTotal Time 50 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 30

    Equipment13×9 inch panzip top bag optional
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 2 cups all-purpose flour1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar1 cup cold butter at room temperature1 large egg at room temperature14 oz. sweetened condensed milk one can1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt8 oz. milk chocolate covered toffee bits one package1 cup chopped English walnuts3 oz. melted semisweet chocolate optional
    Instructions Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil that overhangs the edges and grease the foil with nonstick cooking spray.In a large bowl, whisk together flour and confectioners’ sugar. Mash the butter into the flour using the tines of a fork, or with a pastry blender. Combine until crumbly.Press the crust mixture into the prepared baking pan. Bake 15 minutes.Meanwhile, combine the egg, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl. Fold in toffee bits and walnuts.Spoon the mixture over the baked crust. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and slightly puffed.Cool in the pan about 15 minutes, then refrigerate until firm. Lift the slab from the pan using the overhanging aluminum foil. Cut into 30 pieces.If using the chocolate drizzle, place the melted chocolate in a zip top bag with a tiny hole in the corner snipped. Lay the bars on a parchment-covered work surface and drizzle each bar with chocolate. Let stand until set, about 20 minutes.Package bars in cellophane bags for gift-giving, or store them airtight between waxed paper.
    NotesA delicious variation to this recipe is to swap in pecans for the walnuts.

    Keyword 13×9 dessert, easy toffee walnut bars, Heath mik chocolate-covered toffee bits, shortbread crust, toffee bar recipe, toffee bars

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    Easy Slow Cooker Peanut Clusters

    These Easy Slow Cooker Peanut Clusters are deliciously salty-sweet and packed with peanuts. This recipe makes more than 6 dozen, so there’s plenty to share for the holidays.
    Easy Slow Cooker Peanut Clusters
    This post was originally published 10/30/2009.
    This recipe is our family favorite that I’ve been making for more than a decade. I first posted it here in October 2009, just one month into my first year of blogging. It comes from our family friend, Ms. Bobbie Ivey. She was a special lady who was well known for her confections in our home town. She would sell them during Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holidays.
    These peanut clusters were one of her most popular sweets. They appeal to all ages. In fact, my mom just made batch this week for the children’s program at her church. They are old-fashioned and hearty – so simple to whip up for a big gathering, and one batch makes 150 small clusters, or 75 large.

    Confectioners’ coating goes by many names: almond bark, candy coating, or you may recognize name brands like Candiquik. You can usually find it in 24 oz. blocks at the grocery store in the baking aisle next to the chocolate chips. You’ll need two packages of chocolate, and two of vanilla.

    Break up the blocks of candy and place them in a large slow cooker. Turn the crockpot to low and cover with the lid. Stir occasionally until the candy is completely melted and smooth.
    You may be asking – why not use real chocolate bars? I asked this same question before I made my first batch so long ago. So, I tried a batch with semisweet chocolate and the end result was just too rich and very expensive. The cocoa powder in the chocolate candy coating is just enough flavor without being aggressive. And the vanilla coating adds a creaminess. The creamy flavor is a big part of what draws you in, contrasting the salty peanuts.

    The peanuts.
    When the candy is melted add the peanuts. You’ll need two 16 oz. containers of roasted, salted peanuts, and two roasted, unsalted. Now, sometimes I’ll just use what I have on hand. Which may be 3/4 salted peanuts and 1/4 unsalted. Or any ratio thereof. Do try to use at least 1/4 unsalted peanuts give these clusters balanced flavor. Some brands of roasted peanuts are very salty, indeed.

    Stir until all the peanuts are coated and turn the slow cooker to WARM. Setting the temp to warm ensures the candy stays melted while you dip.
    You’ll notice when you stir everything together, that the candy coating is more like a dressing for the peanuts. It’s just enough melted candy to hold all those peanuts together.

    Cover a large work surface with parchment paper (or waxed paper) and – get to dippin! These days I use a cookie scoop to make uniform clusters. Two dips with this scoop make one large cluster. A standard trigger ice cream scoop makes them a little too large, unless you’re aiming for jumbo clusters.

    Candy coating sets up more quickly than chocolate at room temperature (about 70F). When the clusters lose their shine and become matte, peel them off the paper and store airtight. If storing them in Tupperware, separate layers with waxed paper.
    I always love revisiting this recipe. It’s easy and inexpensive considering the high yield, and everybody loves them. I hope you will too.
    (Check out another of our friend Bobbie’s recipes here: Strawberry Delight)

    Easy Slow Cooker Peanut Clusters

    Heather Baird

    This high yield recipe is quick and easy, perfect when you need a crowd-pleasing candy – it’s thrifty too! We always have a batch on the dessert buffet next to the fudge and bourbon balls at Christmastime. Two or four large clusters, packaged in cellophane and tied with festive ribbon makes a lovely homespun gift.

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    Prep Time 30 minsCook Time 35 mins1 hour setting time 1 hrTotal Time 2 hrs 5 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 75

    Equipmentslow cooker largeparchment papercookie scoop optional
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 24 oz. package chocolate candy coating (chocolate almond bark)24 oz. package vanilla candy coating (white almond bark)32 oz. dry roasted salted peanuts two 16 oz. containers32 oz. dry roasted unsalted peanuts two 16 oz. containers
    Instructions Place both chocolate and vanilla candy coating in a large slow cooker and turn to low setting. Cover with the lid.Stir occasionally to encourage even melting of the candies. Stir mixture until both candies are combined with no white streaks of candy remaining.Pour peanuts over the mixture and stir until peanuts are coated. Turn slow cooker to WARM setting.Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment or wax paper. Scoop heaping tablespoons for 150 small clusters, or two heaping tablespoons for 75 large. Allow to set completely, approximately 1 hour.Store candies air-tight in Tupperware between sheets of waxed paper, or package in cellophane bags with twist ties or ribbon for gifting.Candy will keep well airtight for up to 2 weeks, or longer if refrigerated.
    NotesUse a cookie scoop (4 teaspoon capacity) and scoop two level scoops for the perfect size large cluster. 
    I think these clusters are perfect as-is, but if you’d like to boost the chocolate flavor, add 1 cup of semisweet chips to the melted candy coating. Mix until melted, then pour in peanuts. This will help temper the semisweet chocolate, and avoid any clouding (fat bloom).
    You could make these with real chocolate bars; however, the end result will be very rich, and you’d need 21 bars (4 oz. each) for the required 84 oz. Very expensive these days.

    Keyword candiquik, candy coating, christmas candy, confectioners’ coating, dry roasted salted peanuts, millionaire candy, old fashioned peanut clusters, roasted unsalted peanuts, slow cooker peanut clusters

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    Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

    Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies are buttery beyond words! The cookies are speckled with black tea and fragrant with bergamot notes.

    This is an easy riff on my favorite classic shortbread recipe. With just five ingredients, it’s so wonderfully uncomplicated. Earl Grey tea gives it refined flavor and beautiful fragrance, I may just add these to my holiday cookie giveaway trays!
    To make these cookies extra-special, I used a fondant impression mat to make them a little fancier than usual. (I think they look like millwork!) Shortbread, when handled just so, molds so beautifully. It’s not difficult, and I’ll show you how in the video at the end of the blog post. However, if you’re not into molding the cookies, there are also simple slice-and-bake instructions in the recipe notes.

    My current favorite offshoot of the Earl Grey family is Empress Grey. It’s a bit bolder and has a more pronounced orangey flavor than regular Earl Grey. I also really love using Earl Greyer by Republic of Tea in baked goods. It has bergamot oil added to the leaves (see this Earl Grey au Lait Cake). I recommend using your favorite variety in this recipe.

    The dry ingredients.
    First, open up about 8 Earl Grey tea bags. Pour them out into a bowl and give the tea mixture a good look. The tea should be fine, but if you see any large dry leaves floating around, grind them finer in a mortar and pestle (or put the tea in a zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin).
    Pour the fine tea into some all-purpose flour and whisk to distribute the tea evenly throughout. Additionally, add in some fine grain sea salt and confectioners’ sugar.

    Cream the butter.
    Butter is such an important ingredient in this recipe because it imparts so much flavor. The ratio of butter to flour also gives the shortbread its unsticky texture. Cream 1 pound of room temperature butter well in a standing mixer before adding the dry ingredients.

    As the mixer blends the dough together, it will clump around the beater. This is a good sign that you’re on the right track. Mix it until the dough becomes so cohesive that the motion of the mixer beater begins to clean the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap and pat it into a disk shape. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

    Molding the shortbread.
    I really wanted to make this shortbread look as beautiful as it tastes. My initial plan was to use my new patterned rolling pin to give the dough surface a gorgeous baroque pattern. Well, in full disclosure – and after many tries – I just couldn’t get it to work right. I received a faulty rolling pin with too shallow a pattern and wobbly handles. What a disappointment!
    As I rolled and re-rolled in frustration, I thought to myself “This is awful, I’d have more luck with an impression mat”. Which was a real lightbulb moment. Then I remembered this Baroque Scroll Relief Mat I purchased for wedding cake-making. It was perfect and turned out flawless tablets of dough.

    How to help molded shortbread cookies keep their shape.
    First of all, and especially with molded shortbread with this amount of detail, you need to freeze the cookies. If molding tablets as I have, freeze the tablets before cutting them into smaller cookies. The edges will be sharper and the cuts will be cleaner. Then transfer them to a cookie sheet.

    Second, bake them from their frozen state. Cold butter releases its water content slower and the cookies won’t puff out of shape.
    Third, bake them at a lower temperature for longer. 300F for 20 minutes was perfect for these 3 to 4-inch cookies. A lower temperature ensures the cookies stay beautifully pale, and the steam escaping from the butter does so slowly. Again, this helps the cookies from distorting or puffing too much.

    From the oven, the cookies will be slightly puffed and lightly golden around the bottom edges. The cookies should have a matte appearance when they are done. I just love how architectural they look!
    Sidenote: These cookies remind me so much of the edging and millwork on the Wedgwood-inspired Tree we put together for a Confetti Fix blog post last year (you can see that post here). I’m obsessed!
    Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

    I’ve eaten more of these than I care to admit, but they are too good to resist! They make excellent company with a cup of hot tea and a good book. The molded cookies make a fancy-looking gift presented in a little bag tied with ribbon. However, if you’re not inclined to go that route, see the easiest instructions for slice-and-bake cookies in the recipe notes.

    Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

    Heather Baird

    Earl Grey Shortbread is buttery and rich with delicate notes of bergamot and black tea. Use the tea in sachets, which hold finely ground tea instead of large loose leaves. If using loose-leaf tea, grind the tea to fine consistency in a mortar and pestle, or put the tea in a zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin.This dough molds beautifully as pictured, or use the slice-and-bake instructions in the notes of this recipe. The silicone impression mat I used is linked in the blog post and recipe. Be sure to note that when baking molded cookies, the temperature and time is low and slow: 300F for 20-22 minutes.This recipe yields about a 2 ½- 3 dozen molded cookies. However, if you’re going the slice-and-bake route you’ll end up with about 4 dozen. Please note the change in temperature and baking time for the slice-and-bake version.

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    Prep Time 40 minsCook Time 20 minsTotal Time 1 hr

    Course DessertCuisine Scottish

    Servings 3 dozen

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 4 tablespoons Earl Grey tea about 8 teabags4 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
    Instructions In a large mixing bowl, combine the Earl Grey tea and flour. Whisk together to disperse the tea throughout the flour. Add the salt and confectioners’ sugar. Whisk until well blended.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed. The dough will slowly form as the beater turns. When the dough is well formed it should not be sticky, and it will be thick and clump on the beater.Remove the dough to a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a disk. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.Dust a work surface with flour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut into quarters. Place a quarter on the dusted work surface. Dust the dough and a rolling pin lightly with flour. Roll the piece to a little greater than 1/2-inch thickness. Pick up the dough as you roll to make sure it isn’t sticking to the work surface. If it is, gently prod it loose with a spatula and throw a little more flour underneath it. Lightly re-roll.Use an art brush (or pastry brush) loaded with flour to liberally flour the silicone impression mold. Turn the mat over and tap out excess flour. Lay the rolled dough over the impression mat and press the dough into the cavities with your fingers. Then, use the rolling pin to roll the dough flat to about 1/4 inch. Flip the mold over onto a parchment sheet and gently peel the mold away from the dough revealing a tablet design. Cut away the excess dough from the edges and transfer the molded piece to the freezer to stiffen completely (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile repeat the molding process with the remaining dough.Preheat the oven to 300F.Remove the frozen dough tablets from the freezer and cut into 3-4-inch lengths. Bake the cookies from their frozen state for 20-22 minutes, or until they are very slightly puffed and have a matte surface. The cookies should be pale with the bottom edges very light golden in color.Let the cookies cool on the pans until they are firm enough to move, about 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Keep shortbread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 days.
    NotesSlice-and-Bake Version:
    Mix the dough as directed. Divide the dough into two portions. Roll each portion into a log shape about 12 inches long and roll in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
    Preheat the oven to 375F.
    Slice the logs into 1/3 inch coins. Transfer them to parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly brown. Let cool on the baking sheets until they are firm enough to transfer to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature.

    Keyword Earl Grey Cookies, Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies, molded shortbread, shortbread, slice-and-bake cookies

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    Marbled Rye Bread

    Note: *We used Arrowhead Mills Organic Rye Flour.To use the windowpane test to check dough for proper gluten development, lightly flour hands and pinch off (don’t tear) a small piece of dough. Slowly pull the dough out from the center. If the dough is ready, you will be able to stretch it until it’s thin and translucent like a windowpane. If the dough tears, it’s not quite ready. Beat for 1 minute, and test again. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Cranberry Spice Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

    Cranberry Spice Layer Cake has all the flavors of the holiday wrapped up into one cream cheese-frosted confection.

    I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year, which puts me right in my element. I just love planning a big holiday feast for my family and friends. This is the first time I’ve hosted in years, as it’s usually held at my parent’s home. But since my dad had a stroke last July, my folks already have plenty on their plates. (He’s in rehab, on the mend, and we couldn’t be more thankful!)
    So, with the 2022 Turkey Day baton passed to me, I’m planning the menu well in advance. This cake is the most recent from the test kitchen, and it’s a winner! Truly. Every bite is filled with flavors of fall and winter holidays. I believe this cake recipe could be your go-to for both Thanksgiving and Christmas Day dinners – perhaps beyond!

    The cake batter.
    Forget any preconceived notions about what a spice cake should be (such as dark, molasses-rich, and hotly spiced). This batter is light – both in color and flavor. Buttermilk gives this fluffy batter tang while suspending ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg throughout.

    The cranberry filling.
    Start with 2 cups of cranberries – fresh or frozen (I used the latter) and stir them up with sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and a cornstarch slurry. Cook the mixture until the cranberries start to pop and a thick, shiny, slightly translucent filling is formed. Remove from the heat, and to the cooked mixture add more chopped cranberries. This addition gives the filling a touch more tart flavor. Finish it by stirring 2 tablespoons of butter into the hot mixture.
    The butter adds richness and silky texture – don’t skip this step!

    Transfer the filling to a bowl and let it cool, then place plastic wrap on the surface of the cranberry filling, wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled.

    Build the cake.
    Begin with a spice cake layer, then pipe a ring of cream cheese frosting around the outer edge. (This is the same frosting from my family’s favorite Italian Cream Cake). Place half of the filling inside the ring and spread evenly.

    Apply more cream cheese frosting the cake’s exterior and spread evenly. Chill the cake well – the frosting should be firm for the next steps.

    A little sparkle, and some piping too!
    Ok – so, this can be an optional step, but it’s so pretty – especially for Christmas. Coarse crystal sugar gives the cake’s exterior a glittering, almost snowy appearance. Spray the set frosting with a little sugar syrup and then pat on the sugar with your hands. Be sure to watch the video at the end of this post to see how it’s done. You can also roll the cake in the sugar, which can be seen in action in the video here in my Peach Ring Cake post.
    Pipe some simple scroll work on top using the remaining frosting and a small closed star piping tip (such as Wilton #32). It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just do a few cursive-inspired swirls.

    I opted for simple, natural-looking decors. Fresh cranberries, candied orange peel, and fresh rosemary sprigs all are easy to place around the top edge of the cake without a lot of fuss. And it gives the cake loads of holiday appeal!

    The cranberry filling gives balance to the sweet cream cheese frosting. And there’s just enough warm spices in the cake batter to make this confection feel nice and cozy.

    I’m just so excited to share this Cranberry Spice Layer Cake with all of you – I only wish I could hand out slices personally!

    Cranberry Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

    Heather Baird

    Say hello to your new favorite holiday cake! Light buttermilk spice cake layers are filled with tart cranberry filling and covered with cream cheese frosting. The coarse sugar coating can be optional. It adds a wintry touch to the cake, and sugar crunch. Fresh or frozen cranberries can be used for this recipe. If using frozen, thaw them before using in this recipe.

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    Prep Time 1 hr 15 minsCook Time 55 mins4 hours chilling 4 hrsTotal Time 6 hrs 10 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    Equipment3 8 inch round cake pansmicroplane or zester2 disposable piping bags1 small star piping tipkitchen dedicated spray bottle optional
    Ingredients  Cranberry filling2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries divided1 cup granulated sugar1 tablespoon orange zest from 1 orange3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice from 1 orange2 tablespoons cornstarch2 tablespoon cold water2 tablespoons unsalted butterCake layers1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature2 cups granulated sugar4 large eggs at room temperature3 cups all-purpose flour2 teaspoons baking powder1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or table salt1 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/2 teaspoon ground ginger1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg1 1/2 cups buttermilk at room temperature1 teaspoon vanilla extractCream cheese frosting16 oz. cream cheese at room temperature1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature8 cups confectioners’ sugar 2 lbs.2 teaspoons vanilla extractDécors2 tablespoons clear corn syrup2-3 tablespoons water1 cup coarse crystal sugar1/2 cup whole fresh cranberries12 pieces candied orange peel about 1/4 cup2 large stems fresh rosemary
    Instructions Cranberry fillingChop 1/2 cup of the whole cranberries and set aside.Place the remaining 2 cups of cranberries, the sugar, orange zest, and orange zest in a medium saucepan. In a separate small bowl stir together the cornstarch and water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and stir.Cook over medium heat until the cranberries begin to pop and the mixture bubbles (about 5-6 minutes). When the mixture is thick, shiny, and translucent, add the 1/2 cup chopped cranberries and the butter to the pan. Stir until the butter is melted. Let cool about 30 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Cover the filing with plastic wrap touching the surface (see video) and refrigerate until set, 4 hours or overnight.Cake layersPreheat the oven to 350F. Coat three 8-inch round cake pans with flour-based baking spray (or grease and flour pans).In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Slowly add in the 2 cups of sugar while the mixer runs. When the mixture is light and fluffy, add the eggs 1 at a time.In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Add this mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating on low speed. Begin and end with flour. Finally, mix in the vanilla extract.Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Turn the cakes out onto wire racks and cool completely before frosting.Cream cheese frostingCream together the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the powdered sugar in two additions. Beat until smooth. Add vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again until combined.Remove about 1/2 cup of the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a small star tip. Fill a second piping bag with frosting, fitted with a 1/2-inch round piping tip (or just snip a 1/2 inch hole in the bag with scissors). Cover any remaining frosting in the bowl with a damp towel to keep it from drying out while you work.Place a cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Pipe a ring of frosting around the top edge of the cake. Fill the circle with half of the cranberry filing. Stack another cake layer on top and repeat the process, using the second half of the cranberry filling. Top with the third cake layer. Apply a thin crumb coat of frosting to the outside of the cake. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Cover the cake with the remaining frosting. Smooth top and sides using a cake smoother or bench scraper. Chill until set, about 1 hour.DécorsAdd the corn syrup and water to a small kitchen-dedicated spray bottle, screw on the top and shake to mix. Spray set frosting surface all over with the sugar syrup. Let stand 2 minutes to get sticky. Gently pat the coarse sugar onto the cake on all sides and the top. Lightly brush away excess sugar from the top of the cake.Using the reserved piping bag fitted with the star tip, pipe a looping scroll of frosting on the top edge of the cake. (I can best describe as free-hand cursive-inspired loops, see video.) Sprinkle the scroll work with leftover coarse sugar.Arrange fresh cranberries, orange peel, and little tufts of fresh rosemary around the scroll work on top of the cake.Store the cake in the refrigerator. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.
    The cake layers can be made in advance and frozen. Wrap the layers well in plastic wrap and place them in freezer bags with the air removed.
    If you don’t have a spray bottle handy to apply the sugar syrup, mix the syrup and water in a bowl and apply it to the set frosting with a pastry brush.
    The candied orange peel I purchased came in chunky strips, so I cut them down with a paring knife to finer ribbons. I recommend doing this if your candied peel is also quite thick.


    Keyword buttermilk cake layers, christmas cake, cranberry filling, cream cheese frosting, spice cake, thanksgiving cake

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