Traditional Holiday Treats to SharePosted by Whole Earth | 12.14.2021
Traditional Holiday Treats to Share
One of the joys of the season is the reappearance of favorite holiday treats. We thought we would share a few of ours with you. Auntie Ree's Date Sticks or Orange Pecan Biscotti are good to have on hand for drop-in visitors and can be a thoughtful gift. Both add a special touch to a cup of tea or coffee. Cranberry Pie makes a festive end to any meal between Thanksgiving and Three Kings Day.
Auntie Ree’s Date Sticks
Generations of Auntie Ree's family have enjoyed these date sticks during the holidays. Now it's your turn! If you've inherited, or have acquired one on your own, a hand-cranked nut grinder or chopper, this is a perfect time to pull out and use it. Small morsels of pecans and dates help make this a special treat.
1 pound of Medjoul dates finely chopped
1 cup of pecans ground or chopped
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla
¼ cup water
Use the freshest Medjoul dates you can find. To remove the pit, slice the long side of the date and remove the pit. Flatten the date on a cutting board and cut into long strips about 1/4 of an inch wide. Then cut the strips crosswise to create small squares of dates. They will clump together, but don't worry. They will separate out later when stirred in the batter. Place them in a small bowl and set aside.
Use your nut grinder to make 1 cup of chopped pecans or finely chop with a knife. Set aside.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk the eggs until they are well blended. Add sugar and mix. Add vanilla and water and mix.
Stir the blended flour into the sugar and egg mixture. Add pecans and dates. Stir until the dates are no longer clumping together.
Pour mixture into a well buttered 9 X 13 inch baking pan.
Bake at 325º for approximately 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. If you're using a Pyrex dish, the time will be shorter. Keep watch!
IMPORTANT! Cut date sticks almost immediately after removing them from the oven. You will have to wipe the knife clean after each long cut. Otherwise, the edges will be ragged.
Let them cool in the pan and then serve them forth or pack in a covered tin or container. Auntie Ree's Date Sticks ship beautifully.
from Marie Robinson Parmesano of Elkins, West Virginia
Cranberry Pie first appeared on the menu during a Thanksgiving dinner in the 1970s when it arrived with an honored guest. The recipe is an old one, credited to Mrs. S.B. Kale. Today, it is sometimes called Crustless Cranberry Pie. We've updated Mrs. Kale's recipe a bit. Come summer, we think we'll try it with blueberries and a touch of lemon (hold the pecans).
2 cups of fresh cranberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
grated zest from a small orange
3/4 cup of butter (1 1/2 sticks) melted
Butter a deep dish 10 inch pie pan. Spread the cranberries on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the cranberries and then sprinkle on the sugar.
Beat the eggs well, add the sugar gradually and beat until thick and light. Add orange zest and beat well. Add the flour and melted butter and beat well until smooth.
Pour the batter over the cranberries.
Bake in a 325º oven for 50 or 55 minutes or until the top is golden.
Let the pie cool completely before serving. It can be served with whipped cream or ice cream but is delicious as is.
Orange Pecan Biscotti
The biscotti have entered the holiday treats lineup comparatively recently compared to the other two more venerable recipes. Based on the Candied Orange Pecan Biscotti recipe from Biscotti by Lou Siebert Pappas, it's every bit as popular.
1 cup of candied orange peel finely chopped (recipe below)
3/4 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup of butter (one stick) softened
3/4 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of orange liqueur
zest of 1 orange
2 cups and 2 tablespoons of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Prepare candied orange peel, set aside one cup of finely chopped peel.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, orange liqueur and orange zest.
In a separate bowl stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add into the butter mixture until just mixed. Fold in the chopped candied orange peel and pecans.
On a large baking sheet, lined with parchment paper create two long logs of dough. Dab spoonfuls of the dough in two long lines. Butter your hands and meld and smooth the dabs together into two continuous logs roughly 2 1/2 inches wide and 1 to 1 1/2 inches high. Keep the logs at least two inches apart. They will spread when baking.
Bake in a 325º oven for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until set and lightly browned.
Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and let it rest for 5 minutes. Gently place one log on a cutting board and with a serrated knife cut the log diagonally into 5/8 of an inch slices. Repeat with the second log.
Stand the pieces upright on the baking sheet and return to the oven for approximately 10 minutes to crisp up a bit.
Let them cool completely on the rack and then store in a cookie tin or other sealed container.
Microwaved Candied Orange Peel
Many recipes call for the orange peel to be chopped prior to candying. This recipe leaves the peel in long strips during the candying process. It is only cut when it will be used. The peel will be more flavorful and have a nicer texture.
2 cups of orange peel
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Take a large orange, cut it in half, and then cut the halves in half. Remove the peel from the fruit. Remove any stem element that may still be on the peel. Slice the peel length wise into roughly 1/4 inch strips. A large orange will usually yield one cup of peel. Repeat until you have 2 cups of peel strips.
Place the orange peel strips into a Pyrex bowl with a lid. Cover the peel with water and microwave the covered dish for 10 minutes. Carefully drain the water from the bowl into a colander. Return the peel to the bowl, cover with water, and again, microwave covered for 10 minutes. Carefully drain the liquid into the colander once again.
Mix 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water in the bowl. Return the peel to the bowl, cover, and microwave for 12 minutes, pausing to stir the bowl from time to time. Stir the liquid in the bowl and return to microwaving it for approximately 2 more minutes.
The goal is to reduce the liquid almost completely. So from this point on you will be microwaving for shorter and shorter periods of time and stirring until the liquid is nearly absorbed into the peel.
When the absorption is almost complete. Pour granulated sugar into a small bowl and place a rack nearby. Using a fork, gently remove a slice of orange peel and roll it with a fork in the sugar. Then place it on the rack to dry. Be very careful as the peel will be quite hot.
Let the peel air dry until cold. Store in a container and place it in the refrigerator. When the time comes to use the peel, dice it into small cubes. By candying the peel in strips, it will be more tender and flavorful when you finally use it.
So here you have a few of our favorite holiday treats. We hope you'll enjoy them as much as we do!