I had a flashback while I was making the Kentucky Eggnog recipe for this issue. I was reminded of Christmas Eve day in Kentucky in my childhood home—my mom scurrying around the house setting the table for Christmas Eve dinner and my dad in our small kitchen making eggnog. It was a standing tradition that we invited all of our neighbors to come by Christmas night for a light bite and my dad’s famous eggnog. I can still see the empty eggshells in the carton on the counter, smell the bourbon, and hear the shrill of the mixer throughout the entire house.
This month, I wanted to share a few favorites that have been in my family for a long time. Southern Cashew Crescents is a modern twist on my grandmother’s Pecan Crescent recipe. I found it in her recipe box, so I had to use it. I simply replaced the pecans with cashews. The delicious Holiday Coconut Cake is also at the top of my list. I’m not a baker, so if I can make it, anyone can. Pretzel Wands will dress up any dessert bar and can be a great party favor.
Enjoy your family togetherness, make some memories, and spend some time in the kitchen—it’s a pretty awesome place.
Southern Cashew Crescents
Makes about 2 dozen
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 cup cashews, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 325°.
Beat butter until creamy. Add sugar, salt, flour, and cashews.
Shape into crescents. Bake crescents on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 20 minutes or until firm. Do not brown. They will crisp up as they cool.
Roll baked crescents in powdered sugar to cover completely.
Kentucky Egg Nog
Makes about 9 cups
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup bourbon
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Cinnamon or nutmeg for garnish
Separate eggs, reserving whites for later.
Beat egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add sugar very slowly (about 10 minutes), beating on medium-low. Add bourbon very slowly (about 5 minutes). Add milk, and continue mixing, about 2 minutes, until thoroughly combined. (Place mixture in a large bowl to free up mixer bowl for the next step.)
Beat egg whites until stiff, not dry, and fold into egg and bourbon mixture. Rinse out mixer bowl, return to mixer, and beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the egg and bourbon mixture. Chill for several hours or overnight.
When serving, garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg.
Be sure to stir or shake before serving. (The Egg Nog will settle overnight in the fridge.)
This recipe can easily be doubled for gifts or for a larger crowd.
Makes 40 to 45
2 (10-ounce) packages white chocolate melting chips
1 bag of old-fashioned pretzel rods
Melt chips in a microwave-safe bowl (50% power) or in a double boiler over low heat. Dip pretzels halfway into melted chocolate, allowing any excess to drip off, and apply sprinkles to each one over a paper plate. Place immediately on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, and chill. It will take about 30 minutes to set up.
Learn from Leslie: For smaller wands, break them in half and dip the broken end.
Holiday Coconut Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
For the frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature – 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature – 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract – 1/4 teaspoon almond extract – 1 pound (16 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted – 1 to 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
Note: 1 [14-ounce] bag of shredded coconut will be enough for the cake and frosting, as well as for decorating.
Prepare the cake:
Preheat the oven to 325°.
Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans and then line them with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper, and dust lightly with flour.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and coconut. Set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together buttermilk
In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat sugar, butter, and vanilla on medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until well blended. Continue beating until the mixture is very pale and nearly doubled in volume, another 4 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium-low, and add a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture, and mix just to blend. Add another third of the flour mixture and remaining buttermilk mixture; mix just to blend. Add remaining flour mixture.
Divide batter among the cake pans, and smooth the tops. Bake in the middle racks until they are lightly browned and begin to pull away from the sides, about 35 to 37 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes; invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
Prepare frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and almond extract on low speed. Add powdered sugar, and mix until just smooth. Do not whip.
To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut, and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. For best results, chill for 30 minutes before slicing. Cake also can be served at room temperature.
See more yummy recipes by Leslie here.