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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Treats - Day 7

Today for your pleasure I am posting a recipe for Cherry Almond cookies and Divinity (bottom of the post and alas not photo since I didn't plan on sharing and gulp these are long gone)

I first made this cookie last year and decided (just for me) I needed to add this to my usual cookie list. I like the tart dried cherry paired with the crunch of the almonds..and of course a little bit of sweet icing for the top doesn't hurt either.

1/2 C (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 Large Egg
1-1/4 C All-Purpose Flour
3/4 C Chopped dried cherries
1/2 C Slivered blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

1-1/3 C Powder Sugar, sifted
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 tsp Water (plus extra if needed)

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, extracts, cinnamon and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes then beat in egg. Add the flour and beat on the lowest speed until just blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dried cherries and almonds.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 12 inches long and 1-1/2 inches in diameter. (I shape the dough using the wrap otherwise the dough tends to stick to your hands) Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Dough can be made up to 3 days in advance)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper

Cut the log into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Don't worry if they are not perfectly round..they do tend to expand when baking..but if they are oval well they won't turn out round they just need to be sorta round to begin with. Transfer the dough to prepared cookie sheets spacing about 1 inches apart. bake the cookies are golden around the edges about and puffed, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before icing, about 30 minutes.

For the Icing:
Put the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the vanilla extract and water, adding more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture becomes a drizzling consistency. I placed my icing in a plastic sandwich baggie, snipped off the corner and drizzled the icing that way, you can also use a spoon.

4 cups sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
3/4 cup cold water
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 cups chopped pecans

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir only until sugar has dissolved. Do not stir after this point. Cook syrup mixture until it reaches 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer, bringing it to a hard ball stage.

While the syrup is cooking, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Once the sugar mixture reaches 250 degrees F, carefully pour a slow steady stream of syrup into the stiffly beaten egg whites, beating constantly at high speed. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until mixture holds its shape, approximately 3- 5 minutes. (I have done this recipe twice, once at 5 minutes and they were too dry and once at 3 minutes...a little too soft so 4 minutes should be about right) Stir in pecans.

Using 2 spoons, drop the divinity onto waxed paper, using 1 spoon to push the candy off the other. This may take a little practice because the technique is to twirl the pushing spoon, making the candy look like the top of a soft serve ice cream. If the candy becomes too stiff, add a few drops of hot water. You will need to work fast when making this type of candy. After you spoon the cooked sugar and nuts onto the waxed paper, you're done. Cool the candies on racks completely. You can store them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks

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