Monday, December 16, 2019

Pistachio Shortbread

I love pistachios, so when I want a cookie, I'm usually thinking of how I can incorporate them into the batter.  I had some leftover salted pistachios in the pantry and decided to fool around with a recipe that I ripped from a magazine, and for the life of me I can't figure out which one it is so I can give them credit for the idea.  I have tweaked theirs a bit, and Dr. C. and I think it's a winner. The good news is that you can make the dough ahead and refrigerate or freeze it, and the baked cookies also freeze well.  I still haven't decided if they need a little dip into some semi-sweet chocolate.  I'll update you when I decide!

Pistachio Shortbread
Makes about 30

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped salted pistachios
1/4 cup raw sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and coat the inside of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddles, cream the butter and sugar together for 3 to 4 minutes, until very creamy.  Add the vanilla and beat again.
Add the pistachios and flour with the mixer on low speed, combining, until the ingredients just come together. 

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, and press into the pan.  (I cover the dough with plastic wrap and use a small roller to get it evenly into the pan, but you can pat it in, too)

Sprinkle with the raw sugar, and bake for 35 minutes, or until the shortbread is golden brown in color.  

Cut the shortbread when it comes out of the oven, and allow to cool completely in the pan.  

The shortbread will keep in an airtight container for 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.  Buon appetito!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Cherry Amaretto French Toast

Dr. C's Kiwanis club came to the house for their annual Christmas get together today.  Yesterday I decided to try out a new recipe that has been rolling around in my head.  I would deem it a success since there wasn't a crumb left!
Not only is this simple to make, but you also have to make it a day ahead of time, and then it's just pop into the oven for about 45 minutes and you have a beautiful delicious French toast.  These French toast bakes are great if you have a crowd in for the holidays---instead of flipping French toast, you can bake it and then serve it.
I started with frozen cherries (since fresh are out of season) from Trader Joe's.  Flavor them with Amaretto, of if you want to make it alcohol-free, I'd use a bit of almond extract or some orange juice.  I like the pairing of the cherries and almonds.  There is a layer of mascarpone, again, flavored with Amaretto or almond extract, and then custard soaked bread goes on the top.  Easy peasy.

Cherry Amaretto French Toast
Serves 6 to 8

4 cups pitted sweet cherries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons Amaretto di Saronno or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Two 8-ounce containers mascarpone 
2 tablespoons Amaretto di Saronno
2 tablespoons sugar
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons Amaretto di Saronno
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
One pound loaf Brioche, egg bread like Challah or Hawaiian Sweet bread sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds for garnish
1/4 cup unsalted butter
cinnamon sugar for garnish

Coat the inside of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a bowl, combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, and Amaretto.  Pour into the prepared pan. 

In another bowl stir together the mascarpone, Amaretto, and sugar.
Spread over the cherries in the pan. 

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, sugar and cinnamon.
Dip the brioche into the egg mixture and lay over the mascarpone in the pan.  
My local grocer sells this delicious brioche; it's awesome for French toast

I was able to do 2 layers.  Pour any remaining egg mixture over the bread evenly.  Sprinkle with the almonds, brush with the butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours, or up to 36 hours.  

Remove the casserole dish from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake for 45 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling, and the top is browned.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.  

This holiday season welcoming friends and family in is one of my favorite pastimes, and this dish is a winner.  Buon appetito!