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    Cinnamon-Pecan Babka

    Braided and beautiful, our Cinnamon-Pecan Babka is perfect for any time of day. Aromatic cinnamon brings enticing spice while buttery chopped pecans and light brown sugar balance out the sweet heat. 2½ cups (313 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (16 grams) all-purpose flour, divided 3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated sugar 2 teaspoons (6 grams) kosher salt, […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    Make-Ahead Party Food with Recipes (Sweet and Savory!)

    This menu of Make-Ahead Party Food is pleasing for any dinner party, cocktail party, birthday, wedding reception, and beyond! Featuring both sweet and savory, each appetizer is served in its own shot glass so your guests can grab-and-go while they mingle.

    Christmas is now a memory, and it’s hard to believe the New Year is just days away. Like many of you, I’ve been eating well this week, capturing some fun moments, and generally trying to soak up all the holiday spirit and goodwill before it slips away. So, I wanted to share the little workshop party we held before our holiday break.
    Both savory and sweet, this menu of make-ahead party food requires little cooking, – just some assembly required. These appetizers are adaptable to any gathering, although I find them so cocktail party-worthy!

    Much like My Holiday Open House Menu, I created these appetizers so I could spend more time with my guests instead of being tethered to the kitchen. After years of being both host and cook, I rely on make-ahead recipes. For a cocktail party feel, I love using clear shot glasses to make single servings. They are an inexpensive investment, like this pack of 40 for under $20. And they can be reused forever!

    Everything Bagel Hummus Shots with Grilled Crostini
    This is a good one to make if you have guests that are vegetarian or vegan. Buy prepared plain hummus and stir in some toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and a little garlic powder. Pipe the hummus into the bottom of 15 shot glasses. Then top each with a little Everything Bagel Seasoning just before serving.
    Serve the hummus shots with a grilled crostini standing upright or bagel chips balanced on top. Consider assembling a few with gluten-free crackers on a separate tray for guests with gluten intolerance.

    Marinated Mozzarella
    No cooking, no baking, just assemble and serve! Slice block mozzarella into 1-inch cubes. Then, make a dressing of olive oil, Italian spices, garlic powder, and chopped sundried tomatoes. Mix it all together and add in the cheese; toss to coat. It’s so easy and it looks special. It tastes special, too! The creamy almost blank canvas flavor of the mozzarella is enhanced by that garlicky herbaceous flavor. One tip – be sure to use a good condiment-worthy olive oil!

    Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail Shooters
    This is an easy evergreen appetizer that just requires dressing up some large cooked cocktail shrimp. Bloody Mary mixer is the stand-in for cocktail sauce, which is lighter and so flavorful. Charleston Bloody Mary Mix is my go-to for this appetizer. Add a little to the bottom of each of 15 shot glasses, and top with skewered shrimp that have been finished like any good Bloody Mary – with a squeeze of citrus and a generous grind of black pepper.

    Charcuterie Cones (or Shot-cuterie, if served in shot glasses)
    This cute appetizer is a good segue from our savory fare to the sweet. Why? Because it contains both sweet and savory bites. Include salted nuts, a square of sharp cheese, dark chocolate pieces, dried fruit, rosemary sprigs, artisan crackers, blue cheese-stuffed olives, berry and salami skewers.
    The cones don’t have to match each other exactly. It’s good to make a few veggie friendly cones and gluten-free options. I used biodegradable natural wood cones for serving (along with cone holders), because they hold a little more food than a shot glass. But you can use 3 oz. shot glasses even small Mason jars.

    Citrus Supremes with Prosecco Sabayon
    They say good things come in small packages, and this is especially true for this little bubbly-inspired dessert. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and prosecco in a bowl over simmering water until thickened. It doesn’t take long at all to make a luscious sabayon. As for the citrus, you could spend a lot of time with the messy business of segmenting grapefruits and oranges. Or, you could just buy a big jar of Del Monte’s Citrus Salad. This no-sugar added option does the work for you.
    Layer sabayon into shot glasses and top with the citrus. A few pomegranate arils on top of each shot will make them even prettier.

    Bourbon Ball Ganache Shooters
    And now for something completely different! Skewered bourbon balls are made for dipping into the silky bourbon ganache they’re perched atop. This utilizes my favorite 5 Minute Bourbon Ball recipe. Bourbon balls can be made far ahead of serving because they mellow with time. These were perfect for the holidays but I can’t wait to make them for a Derby Day treat.

    Eggnog Panna Cotta with Spiked Cranberry Sauce
    Regular blog readers know that panna cotta is my go-to for make-ahead desserts. This particular flavor combination is more for winter holidays. You can find the recipe for it right here. However, if you’re looking for more evergreen flavors, check out this post for White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Orange Chocolate Sauce.
    Make-Ahead Party Food on display!
    I hope you’ve enjoyed this departure from the usual post. The recipe card will include most of the recipes with a couple links to the desserts that already live on the blog. I hope you can use this post as a resource to help increase the enjoyment of your gathering, while minimizing your work!

    Make Ahead Party Food Menu (Sweet and Savory!)

    Heather Baird

    Get a head start on making delicious appetizers for your next gathering. Use shot glasses to portion single servings so your guests can grab-and-go while they mix-and-mingle.Everything Bagel Hummus Shots, Marinated Mozzarella, Bloody Mary Shrimp Shooters, and Charcuterie Cones offer savory flavors. While Citrus Supremes with Prosecco Sabayon, Bourbon Ball Shooters, and Eggnog Panna Cotta with Spiked Cranberry Sauce round out the party with sweetness.The Charcuterie Cone recipe is for 15 near matching cones; however, I suggest you vary some of the cones to accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free guests.Please note that prep and cook time is approximate.

    #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 2 hrsCook Time 21 mins2 hours chill time 2 hrsTotal Time 4 hrs 21 mins

    Course AppetizerCuisine American

    Servings 15 people

    Equipmentshot glasses 15 for each recipe, 1.5 oz. capacitycocktail skewersToothpicksbiodegradable wood cones optional
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Everything Bagel Hummus Shots10 oz. plain hummus 1 container1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds2 teaspoons Everything Bagel Seasoning for garnish1/4 teaspoon garlic powder1 baguette sliced into 1/4-inch piecesOlive oilMarinated Mozzarella1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil1 teaspoon Italian seasoning1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley1 tablespoon sun dried tomatoes in herb oil chopped1/4 teaspoon garlic powder16 oz. block mozzarella part skimChive sprigs optionalBloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail Shooters15 large cocktail shrimp cooked peeled with tails on1 lime zested and juicedFreshly ground black pepper16 oz. Bloody Mary Mix Charleston recommendedParsley sprigs for garnishCharcuterie Cones6 oz. salted almonds8 oz. dark chocolate bar tablet style for breaking15 Turkish dried apricots15 blue cheese-stuffed olives1 pint fresh berries raspberries and blackberries12 oz. thin cut salami rounds8 oz. sharp cheddar block cubed15 cocktail onions15 sprigs rosemary for garnishAssorted crackersCitrus Segments with Prosecco Sabayon2 cups mixed citrus segments such as Del Monte no sugar added Citrus Salad9 egg yolks1/2 cup granulated sugar3/4 cup Prosecco3 tablespoons pomegranate arils such as POM wonderful POM-POMSBourbon Ball ShootersBourbon Ball Recipe prepared to fit inside shot glasses1 cup semisweet chocolate chips1/2 cup heavy cream1 tablespoon bourbonEggnog Panna Cotta with Spiked Cranberry Sauce (linked)
    Instructions Everything Bagel Hummus ShotsCombine the hummus, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and garlic powder in a bowl. Mix well. Place in a piping bag or zip-top bag with the corner snipped. Pipe about 1 1/2 tablespoons of hummus into the bottom of each of 15 shot glasses. Place all of the glasses inside a 9×13 baking pan with sides taller than the height of the shot glasses. Cover with plastic wrap until party time.Drizzle baguette slices with olive oil. Drizzle a nonstick grill pan with olive oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Grill bread slices on both sides and set aside to cool. When cool, place bread in a zip top bag and store until ready to serve.1 hour before serving, sprinkle each hummus shot with a little bagel seasoning. Stand a baguette slice upright into the shot glasses. Place shot on a tray and serve.Marinated MozzarellaCombine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Cube the cheese small enough to easily fit into shot glasses. Add the cheese cubes to the olive oil dressing and toss to coat.Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. The marinade may solidify a little due to the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. This is normal. Allow the bowl to stand at room temperature until the marinade loosens. Stir to coat.Skewer 2-3 cubes of marinated mozzarella on toothpicks and place inside 15 shot glasses. (You may have leftover cheese cubes, which can be placed in a bowl near the shot glasses with toothpicks for guest refills.) Place the shot glasses in a deep 9z13 inch baking pan taller than the shot glasses. Cover with plastic wrap. Before serving, add 1-2 sprigs of chives to each glass, if using. Spoon some of the marinade in the bottom of the bowl over the cheese cubes in each glass just before presenting.Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail ShootersPat shrimp dry with a paper towel. Place on a shallow plate. Drizzle with lime juice and zest. Grind black pepper generously over the shrimp. Place one shrimp threaded onto fifteen 4” cocktail skewers. Cover with plastic wrap until party time.Pour Bloody Mary mix into fifteen of 1.5 oz. shot glasses, approximately 1/3 of the way up the glass. Top each glass with a skewered shrimp and garnish with a parsley sprig. Present on a serving tray or tiered stand.Charcuterie ConesDivide salted almonds between the bottom of the cones. Place a square or two of chocolate into each of the cones. Add apricots. Thread olives and salami on skewers. Thread two or more berries onto some skewers. Stand skewers upright into each cone. Add a cube of sharp cheddar to each cone.Garnish with rosemary sprigs. Add artisan crackers to each cone or have them on a platter nearby.Citrus Segments with Prosecco SabayonPat citrus segments dry with paper towels. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until ready for assembly.In a stainless steel bowl over simmering water, constantly whisk the egg yolks, sugar and Prosecco until mixture reaches 160° and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap so that it rests on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Make this up to two days ahead.Divide sabayon evenly between 15 shot glasses. Top with citrus segments and garnish with pomegranate arils. Serve with small cocktail or demitasse spoons.Bourbon Ball ShootersSkewer bourbon balls with a 4-inch long cocktail skewer. Place in an airtight container and store at room temperature.Combine the semisweet chips and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat at 100% power in the microwave for 1 minute. Let stand 1 minute. Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms, then stir in the bourbon. Store in a lidded jar in the refrigerator until party time.Before serving, heat the ganache in the microwave until liquid and pourable, about 45 seconds (heat in 30 second intervals). Divide ganache into the bottoms of each of 15 shot glasses. Top each with a skewered bourbon ball for dipping. Consider including small demitasse spoons so guests may enjoy every last dop of bourbon ganache (plastic silver cocktail spoons are available at most dollar stores!).
    NotesTo further shortcut the hummus recipe, Boar’s Head makes a prepared Everything Bagel Hummus which is gluten-free and vegan.
    Make room in your refrigerator ahead of time! The beauty of make-ahead doesn’t come without one caveat; you will need lots of refrigerator space. 
    Using heavy-bottomed real glass shot glasses adds a nice touch. These are inexpensive and can be reused. I’ve linked in the blog post a set of 40 for under $20. You may also search thrift stores and charity shops for shot glasses that cost even less!

    Keyword bloody mary shrimp cocktail, bourbon balls, charcuterie cones, citrus sements, easy appetizers, everything bagel hummus, finger foods, make ahead party food, marinated mozzarella, panna cotta, prosecco sabayon, shot glass appetizers, shot glass desserts, shrimp cocktail

    You may also enjoy: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Chocolate Orange Yule Log Crepe Cake

    Citrusy orange flavor adds holiday sparkle to this Chocolate Orange Yule Log Crepe Cake. Marmalade, whipped cream, and orange ganache-filled crepes are wrapped in a chocolate Swiss roll sponge.

    I couldn’t let the season pass without enjoying one of my favorite Christmas baking projects – the yule log cake, a.k.a. Bûche De Noël. It’s something I look forward to each year. Earlier, in spring, inspiration struck when I was browsing a confectioners’ periodical. I saw a sponge roll with crepes wrapped inside. It reminded me a little of tree rings. I knew I had to try the technique for myself. And I just knew it would make a fantastic looking yule log cake.

    With just a picture (and no recipe or instruction) I cobbled together my favorite tried-and-true cake elements. The Swiss roll sponge from my Pumpkin Swiss Roll Cake made a wonderful base for wrapping up all the other elements.

    A shortcut.
    If you’re feeling short on time from all the holiday hustle and bustle (I am) I’d like to recommend purchasing crepes ready-made from the grocery store. They can be found at most US grocery stores in the produce department. Sometimes they are placed alongside plastic clamshells of berries to encourage berry-filled crepe assembly at home. However, if you have time for scratch-made crepes, you’ll find the ingredients and instructions in the notes of this yule log recipe.

    Assemble the crepe center by smearing on a thin layer of orange-chocolate ganache on a crepe. Roll it up!

    Continue by rolling the first crepe into a second ganache covered crepe. Keep going until all the crepes and rolled up and you have a crepe baton.

    Assembly.
    Unroll the swiss sponge after it cools and cover it with prepared marmalade. Then, add a layer of homemade whipped cream on top. Spread it out evenly. Next, roll the crepe baton into the sponge. Refrigerate the roll until set. Which means the crepe center and whipped cream will firm up.

    White bark covering.
    Roll out some ready-made white fondant for the covering . A tree bark silicone fondant mat makes a beautiful bark impression in the fondant, which is what I used. Although sugar paste is my preferred covering for this cake, I understand that some people prefer buttercream. Double the orange buttercream recipe provided, and you’ll have enough to cover and decorate the cake’s entire exterior.

    Pipe a wavy line of buttercream on the top center of the cake using a large petal piping tip. Add some chopped toasted almonds around the sides of the cake for a ‘woodchip’ garnish.

    Seeing stars!
    Use this bartender trick I picked up while doing some freelance work food styling cocktails. Peel the skin off of an orange in one or two large pieces. Use mini fondant or cookie cutters (metal, plastic is too flimsy) to stamp out shapes from the peel. It’s such a pretty and natural garnish. Place the stars upright in the buttercream on top of the cake.
    Chocolate Orange Yule Log Crepe Cake

    The marmalade and whipped cream together help keep the chocolate Swiss sponge moist, and the crepe center has such a nice multilayered texture. The dynamic duo of chocolate and orange together evokes the essence of a special holiday. It has garnered much praise from all who have tasted it!
    Related recipe: Chocolate Mocha Yule Log Cakes

    Chocolate-Orange Yule Log Crepe Cake

    Heather Baird

    Rich chocolate Swiss roll is filled with orange marmalade, whipped cream, and a ganache-filled crepe center. It’s a delicious holiday centerpiece with bright citrusy flavor. Busy holiday cooks will appreciate using ready-made crepes from the grocery store in this recipe. You can usually find them in US grocery stores in the produce section next to the strawberries. If you’d rather make crepes from scratch, or just can’t find them ready-made, then see my crepe recipe in the notes section of this recipe.I use fondant to cover this cake, but you could use white (untinted) buttercream instead. If you use buttercream, use a small offset spatula to make long striations in the frosting, mimicking tree bark.

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    Prep Time 30 minsCook Time 12 mins2 hours resting 2 hrsTotal Time 2 hrs 42 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 8 people

    EquipmentBark motif fondant matRolling Pindisposable piping bagLarge petal decorator piping tipSmall star cookie cutters, 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Swiss roll4 large eggs3/4 cup granulated sugar1 tablespoon oil2 tablespoon buttermilk1 teaspoon vanilla extract3/4 cup all-purpose flour1/4 cup dark cocoa powder1 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 cup powdered sugarGanache-filled crepes1 cup semisweet chocolate chips1/2 cup heavy cream1 tablespoon orange liqueur or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract10 ready-made crepes 10-inches roundFillings1/2 cup prepared orange marmalade1/2 cup heavy cream2 tablespoons granulated sugarFondant covering and buttercream1/2 lb. white fondant ready-madePowdered sugar for dusting1/2 cup unsalted butter3 cups confectioners’ sugarMilk or cream to thin buttercream if needed1 teaspoon orange extractToppings and garnishPeel of 1 orange removed in one large piece1/2 cup chopped almonds toasted
    Instructions Swiss rollTo make the cake, preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 15×10-inch jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper.Place eggs in large bowl; beat using electric mixer on high speed 5 minutes. The whipped eggs will become thick and lightened in color. With the mixer still running, slowly add sugar and oil, followed by buttermilk and vanilla.In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Slowly add to the liquid ingredients. Mix until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake 12-15 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back when pressed with fingers.Sprinkle a tea towel with powdered sugar and rub sugar into towel with your hands. Immediately turn cake out onto the sugar-covered tea towel. Peel off the parchment paper and roll cake into the tea towel, beginning at the narrow end. Place rolled cake on a wire rack, seam-side down, and let cool completely.Ganache filled crepesCombine the chocolate and cream in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute at 100% power. Let the mixture set for 1 minute then whisk together until smooth. Whisk in the orange liqueur. Refrigerate until thick but still spreadable, about 10 minutes, stirring intermittently.Lay one crepe on a work surface and spread a thin layer of ganache over the entire surface. Roll the crepe up jelly roll style. Spread a second crepe with ganache; set the first rolled crepe at one edge of the second crepe and roll up. Repeat this process until all of the crepes are rolled up. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and set aside.FillingsStir the marmalade until loosened; set aside.Beat the heavy cream on medium-high in the bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add in the sugar. Beat until the mixture is whipped thick and spreadable.Unroll the Swiss roll cake. Spread the marmalade over the surface. Add the whipped cream over them marmalade and spread until even. Place the crepe roll at the most curled end of the cake and roll up. Place the cake on a serving platter. Refrigerate until chilled and set, about 30 minutes. When the cake is chilled, trim away 1 1/2 -inch slices from each end of the cake so the crepe center is revealed.Fondant and buttercreamDust a work surface with powdered sugar. Knead fondant well and roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Place the fondant on top of a dusted woodgrain impression mat. Use your fingers to press the fondant into the mold, then use a rolling pin to even the surface. Flip the piece over and trim the excess fondant away. Repeat this process once so that you have two wood grain fondant pieces.Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Lightly brush the surface with water so the fondant will stick to the surface. Lay one fondant piece over the cake, lining up the edge with the edge of the cake. Add the second piece so that it touches the edge of the first piece; trim away the excess. There may be a visible line between the two pieces, this is normal.Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix again until combined. If mixture is thick, add milk or cream to thin to piping consistency. Beat in the orange extract. Beat on high speed until the buttercream is almost white. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large petal tip.Pipe a dollop of buttercream on your finger and fill the visible line between the fondant pieces on the cake, if needed.Pipe and undulating line on top of the cake starting from the designated ‘back’ to the front of the cake. Position the piping tip with the thinnest edge pointed toward the sky as you pipe.Toppings and garnishUse the star cutters to stamp shapes from the orange peel. Place the stars standing upright in the buttercream on top of the cake. Garnish with chopped almonds around the edge of either side of the cake.Refrigerate the cake until set, 10 minutes. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.
    NotesHomemade crepe recipe
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    6 large eggs 1 cup whole milk
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/8 tsp salt
    1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
    Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or a blender and process until well combined. The mixture will be the consistency of heavy cream.
    Brush a 10 -inch skillet with melted butter and place over medium heat until butter just starts to smoke. Pour scant 1/4 cup of batter into the skillet. Swirl the batter with the pan lifted over the stove eye until the bottom is coated with a thin layer of batter.
    Place pan on the stove eye and cook until the surface of the crepe loses most of its glossiness and the top is set. At this point, most recipes will tell you to flip the crepes; mine were cooked through without flipping, so I just slid them out of the skillet and onto a plate.
    Repeat process until all crepe batter is used. If the crepes start to cook before you can get the entire bottom of the pan coated with batter, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the crepes to cool completely.
    Orange garnish tip:

    After stamping out the shapes from the orange peel, place the stars in a zip-top bag and store in the refrigerator until ready to decorate. The orange peel will dry out if left uncovered at room temperature, and the ends of the stars will curl slightly. 

    Keyword american buttercream, black fondant, candied orange peel, crepe cake, orange buttercream, orange marmalade, orange whipped cream, swiss roll, yule log cake

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    Mint Chocolate Chip Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

    Add some holiday flavor and color to your cookie tray with Mint Chocolate Chip Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies!

    Shortbread is my favorite kind of cookie. That’s no secret to long-time blog readers, I’m sure. The formula is so simple and the end result so delicate and buttery, I’m always dreaming up new ways to flavor and shape the dough. This year for a Christmas cookie offering, I decided to make them into thumbprint cookies! These Mint Chocolate Chip Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies are fun and festive with bright color and zingy mint flavor. Mint chocolate chip ice cream lovers will want to make these.

    Cream the butter.
    Cream one cup of butter with 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar until smooth. A hand mixer will work just fine for this task. The ratio of sugar makes the shortbread lightly sweet so the mint and chocolate flavors shine through.

    Color and flavor.
    Frontier Co-op Organic Mint Extract is what I keep in my pantry to make minty treats. It’s not overpowering if used in moderation. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the extract, along with a little green food color to the creamed mixture. I used a pastel green gel food color, but it ended up being bolder than I expected – but I like it! A few drops of liquid green food color would work just fine also.

    Add in the flour and mini chocolate chips. Mix until just combined. Don’t be tempted to overmix here, tender shortbread depends on not developing the flour’s gluten.

    Scoop and shape.
    Portion the dough out onto parchment-lined baking sheets using a cookie scoop (or a slightly heaped tablespoon). After scooping, make a well, or a thumbprint, in each dough ball. I use the back of a 1/2 teaspoon measure.

    Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, then reshape the ‘thumbprint’ after baking. The cookies will puff up a little under the heat, and the well becomes shallow. Just press the 1/2 teaspoon measure into the divots to make them slightly deeper.

    Fill and drizzle.
    After the cookies cool, fill the wells with rich chocolate ganache, then drizzle the tops with leftover ganache.

    These cookies lively little minty bites. They remind me of an Andes mint in cookie form!
    This blog post is sponsored by Go Bold With Butter. View more butter recipes at this link.
    Related recipe: Peppermint Snowball Cookies

    Mint Chocolate Chip Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

    Heather Baird

    The classic flavor of mint chocolate chip brings a mashup of shortbread and thumbprint cookies together! Use real butter to achieve the perfect crumbly shortbread texture. Rich chocolate ganache fills the ‘thumbprints’ with an extra drizzle for good measure.Please note that because these thumbprint cookies have a shortbread base, there is no chemical leaven or egg in the ingredients.

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    Prep Time 30 minsCook Time 12 mins1 hour cooling time 1 hrTotal Time 1 hr 42 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 24

    Equipment1 disposable piping bag or zip top storage bag
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Cookies1 cup unsalted butter softened1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar1/2 teaspoon mint extractGreen food color2 cups all-purpose flour1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chipsGanache Filling2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips1/3 cup heavy cream
    Instructions CookiesPreheat the oven to 350°F.Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth and creamy.Add mint extract and green food color; mix to combine.Next, add flour and mini chips; mix until just combined (avoid overmixing).Remove dough from the bowl; shape into 1-inch balls. You can also use a 4- teaspoon capacity cookie scoop. Roll the balls between your palms, and then place 1/2 inch apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.Create a well in each dough ball with your thumb or by using the rounded back of a 1/2 teaspoon measure. Chill dough for 15 minutes.Bake for 10-12 minutes.Once baked, reshape the wells with the handle of a wooden spoon or the 1/2 teaspoon measure. Let cool on the baking sheets.Move cooled cookies to a parchment paper-covered work surface.Ganache FillingHeat semisweet chips and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute at 100% power. Allow the mixture to stand 1 minute. Whisk until you have a silky, shiny ganache.Transfer the ganache to a disposable piping bag or a zip-top bag with the corner snipped. Fill each cookie well with the ganache. Use any leftover ganache to drizzle over the cookies.Let stand until cookies are completely set, about 1 hour.Enjoy right away! Or store the cookies an airtight container with layers between pieces of waxed paper.
    NotesMake ahead: the shortbread thumbprint cookies can be made ahead and frozen for up to 1 month. To thaw, place them in the refrigerator overnight. Make the ganache and fill as directed in the recipe. 

    Keyword Christmas cookies, mini chocolate chips, mint chocolate chip cookies, shortbread cookies, thumbprint cookies

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    Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies are rich, bite-size sweets with a mini Reese’s cup nestled in their centers. Serve alongside a tall glass of milk – Santa will thank you!

    Full disclosure: I make these cookies year-round. But my Christmas cookie giveaway trays would not be complete without them! Everyone loves them. Especially Reese’s peanut butter cup lovers. These cookies are baked in a mini muffin tin, which creates the perfect size chocolate cookie cup to hold a mini Reese’s peanut butter cup. They are chocolatey, chewy, and so delish with that perfect center of peanut butter.

    Portion the dough.
    Use a cookie scoop (4 teaspoon capacity) to portion the dough and then roll them into balls between your palms. The chocolate dough has a little peanut butter in it, so it is unsticky and very easy to shape. Place each dough ball in the cavity of a mini muffin pan. My mini muffin pan has 24 cavities. This recipe makes about 36 cookies so I had to re-wash my pan and re-grease it for the last dozen.
    Before you start baking, go ahead and unwrap the 36 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups and have them ready to hand.

    Bake the cookies for 12 minutes. They come out of the oven looking a lot like mini chocolate muffins!

    Add the peanut butter cups.
    Immediately after removing the pan from the oven, press a mini Reese’s peanut butter cup in the center of each baked cookie. Be careful, though! The pan will be hot. Now, you could stop right here and have some really good-looking cookies. But the holidays call for something a little extra.

    Dress them up!
    Whip up an easy peanut butter drizzle by melting peanut butter baking chips with just a little vegetable oil (I used olive oil). This makes the peanut butter mixture more fluid, more drizzly. I put the peanut butter mixture in a piping bag with a small hole snipped in the end, but you could use a zip-top bag with the corner snipped.

    Get out your favorite holiday sprinkles to give these some festive color. I used some holly berry quins, but jimmies would look nice, too.

    The chocolate cookie cup is so soft and chewy, which perfectly contrasts the peanut buttery flavor of the peanut butter cup. These are so poppable – a little too easy to eat, if you ask me!
    Related recipe: Peanut Butter Cup Hot Cocoa Bombs

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

    Heather Baird

    These cookies are beloved by kids of all ages. Chocolatey, chewy, and peanut-buttery, they’ll disappear fast! Unwrap the mini Reese’s cups ahead of time and have them ready to immediately press into the cookies after they are taken out of the oven.

    #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 20 minsCook Time 12 minsTotal Time 32 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 36

    Equipmentmini muffin tin with 24 cavities
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 2/3 cup all-purpose flour1/3 cup dark cocoa powder1 teaspoon baking soda1/8 teaspoon fine grain salt1/2 cup sugar1/3 cup creamy peanut butter1/4 cup unsalted butter softened1 egg2 tablespoons whipping cream1 teaspoon vanilla36 Reese’s peanut butter cups miniatures unwrapped1/4 cup peanut butter chips1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    Instructions Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the cavities of a mini muffin pan with flour-based baking spray (or grease pan with nonstick cooking spray).In small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar, peanut butter, and unsalted butter on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg, whipping cream, and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture on low speed until blended.Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. (I used a cookie scoop, 4 teaspoon capacity.) Place one ball into each muffin cup.Bake 12 minutes. Immediately press 1 peanut butter cup into center of each cookie. Cool in pan on cooling rack. Combine the peanut butter chips and oil in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second intervals until the mixture can be stirred smooth. It should be a little runny and pourable. Transfer the mixture to a zip-top bag with a tiny hole in the corner snipped. Drizzle over hot cocoa bombs. Let stand until set, about 15 minutes.Drizzle the peanut butter mixture over 5 cookies at a time, then immediately top with sprinkles. Continue working like this until all of the cookies are drizzled and sprinkled. The peanut butter drizzle will set up quickly, so be swift with your sprinkling.Allow the cookies to stand until set, about 5-7 minutes. Store the cookies airtight until ready to serve.
    NotesPlace the unwrapped peanut butter cups on a plate and then on  a countertop away from the stovetop. This prevents them from softening and melting. They should be firm enough to press into the hot cookie cups right when they come out of the oven. If your kitchen is particularly warm at room temperature, place the peanut butter cups in the refrigerator while the cookies bake.

    Keyword chocolate cookie dough, cookie cups, mini Reese’s cups, peanut butter cookie dough, reese’s peanut butter cups

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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.
    Notes
    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 HGTV.com 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 HGTV.com 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 HGTV.com: 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 HGTV.com.

    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 HGTV.com 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 HGTV.com.
    Related recipe: The Ultimate Southern Brunch Board with Homemade Pimiento Cheese

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