Holiday Entertaining Guide - Page 21 - New twists on Christmas treats

Holiday Entertaining Guide
- Page 21
New twists on Christmas treats
I love a good holiday cookie or confection as much as the next person, but to be quite honest there is a limit to the number of snickerdoodles or Christmas tree cookies my body can handle. By the time I’ve hit my fourth holiday party, my bloodstream seems to be 50 percent peppermint extract and liquid chocolate.

As someone who loves to bake for the holidays, I am always looking for new twists on old classics. A cookie that has been elevated with an unexpected ingredient, or a nut mix that veers away from totally sweet into slightly savory.

I also love to give baked goods as holiday gifts. A homemade, edible gift shows the recipient that you have put love, thought and care into what you are giving them. After all, this isn’t just a shiny bauble, this is something that they will consume.There are very few things more intimate than eating what another has prepared for you.

The following recipes have three things in common:They are easy to make, they travel well and, therefore, make great gifts, and they all are slight twists on familiar holiday treats.

My partner, Harper Hornaday, and I really enjoy cooking with Asian flavors: stir-fries, curries, you name it. My pantry could double as an Asian market. Each of the following recipes has taken a familiar cookie, bar and nut mix on a little Eastern journey. Trust me, the detour is well worth the resulting reactions you’ll get from friends and family when you hand over a tin of homemade goodies with a twist.

Indian-spiced cashews Yield: about 4 cups

Move over candied pecans, there’s a new favorite nut in town. Cashews are an addiction of mine – I add them to everything. Here I’ve taken the basic formula for candied pecans, switched in cashews, and tossed in a little Indian flavor.These nuts are still sweet with a healthy bit of salty savoriness to them. Do your best to not eat them all before you’ve packaged them up as gifts. Or don’t, I won’t tell! Note: Garam masala can be found in the international aisle of most grocery stores. Unsalted, unroasted whole cashews can be found in the bulk section of Whole Foods stores.

Heat oven to 300 degrees, placing the racks on the lower and upper third rungs of the oven. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the granulated white sugar, light brown sugar, salt and garam masala until no lumps remain. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the egg white, cold water and vanilla extract until light and frothy.

Add the nuts to the egg white mixture and mix thoroughly with a spatula until all the nuts are coated.

Pour the sugar mixture into the bowl with the nuts and continue mixing again until all the nuts are thoroughly coated.

Divide the coated nuts between the two pans, spreading them into a single layer with the spatula.

Bake the nuts for 45 minutes or until the nuts are a deep golden brown; stir the nuts every 15 minutes and rotate the pans top to bottom about halfway through,

Once baked remove the pans and set them aside until the nuts have cooled to room temperature. Break the nuts into small clusters and serve or package for gifts.They will keep in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

For gift giving, divide the nuts between small cellophane bags and tie them tightly with colorful ribbon. Or for a fancier presentation,