Can You Say Christmas Gift?
In an attempt to declutter the needless possessions taking up space in my home and office, I have made a commitment to buy only those things I absolutely need or can consume in a short period of time. Basically, this limits me to replacing worn clothes, upgrading electronics (if necessary) and purchasing quality food. As I look around at all the “things” I own, some with sentimental value, others without, I am motivated to give away the superfluous and free myself from the weight of clutter. If I am this concerned about excess then perhaps my friends and family are concerned as well.
Which brings me to Christmas (yes, I know, a broad jump), and what presents to buy for whom and/or what to bring along to a holiday party as a hostess gift or as a contribution to the planned feast. The three big holiday questions that seem to take up way too much mental thought and energy. So, when I offered up this recipe at a recent cooking class on holiday appetizers the light bulbs went off over each feminine head as they slowly chewed this delightful confection to liquid. Quick and easy to make, the Pecan Cranberry Chew calls for healthy ingredients that will look great on any party table or wrapped in a decorative box and tied with a ribbon. It is a welcome gift that won’t hang around long enough to contribute to the clutter.
Recently one of the women, who had been in attendance at the appetizer class, brought a bowl of the confection to a holiday gathering, put it down on the table and when she came back not a crumb remained. “It was as if the bowl had been licked clean.” She told me in wide-eyed wonder. Unfortunately, satisfied with eating pecans and dried fruit for lunch the party goers left much of the remaining food untouched, much to the chagrin of the hostess. So, note to self, best to serve this recipe as an after bite, once the hungry hordes have been sated.
Pecan Cranberry Chew
Yields: 3 cups
Prep and Cooking Time: 30 minutes
2 cups pecans
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries (fruit juice sweetened)
2 tablespoons xylitol (made from Birch Bark)
1-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with oil. Place the pecans on the parchment paper and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and increase the temperature to 375 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl combine the raisins, cranberries and hot, cooked pecans.
3. In a small bowl combine the xylitol, cayenne and sea salt, and mix into the pecans/fruit. Add the rice syrup and stir to coat the mixture.
4. Spread the mixture onto the parchment paper and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until pecans are done and syrup is bubbling.
5. Remove and allow to cool. (Placing the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes makes it easier to peel off the parchment paper.)
6. Store in a container in the refrigerator and try not to eat it all at one sitting.
Note on ingredients:
Birch Bark Xylitol: I have used a birch bark xylitol rather than a corn based product. When purchasing make sure to read the labels. Xylitol is known for its ability to metabolize in the body without using insulin, benefits teeth and gums, and has shown to have other health benefits as well. You can purchase Xylitol via the internet.
Brown Rice Syrup: A mild tasting liquid sweetener only 20 percent as sweet as sugar. It metabolizes slowly in the body, however, diabetics should use with caution. It has a soft caramel flavor, which comes from cooking brown rice and barley malt and reducing the resulting mash to a syrup. Great substitute for corn syrup and the like.