Cranberries are an unusual fruit that do not see the same popularity in New Zealand as they do in America. This absolutely puzzles me as they form the basis of many delicious recipes.
Cranberry not only forms the basis of a delicious dip, but the dipping crackers as well. I often bring this festive recipe out closer to Christmas time as it is a great way to satisfy your kids as well as family and friends that you will no doubt see over the Christmas period.
Cranberry Cheese Dip
1 cup of cream cheese (Philidelphia or similar)
½ cup of shredded white cheddar cheese
1 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries (If frozen, defrost in fridge overnight)
Preheat the oven to 200 Degrees.
Combine the shredded cheddar and cream cheese together in a large bowl and mix thoroughly
Add the cranberries and gently fold into the cheese mixture
Pour the mixture into a large ramekin
Bake the mixture for approximately 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the top is a lovely golden brown.
Leave to cool. Serve warm.
If you want to put a spin on this dish, blend the cranberries in a food processor before stirring thoroughly into the cheese mixture for a lovely pink variation.
This cranberry dip goes lovely with store bought crackers. If you are up for a challenge, with a little bit of effort you can make your own cranberry crackers that compliment this dish perfectly. Be warned, it is a long process but the results are more than worth it.
Makes approximately 12 dozen crackers
1 cup of dried cranberries
1 plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 tablespoon of dry rosmary
2 teaspoons of baking soda
2 cups of buttermilk
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup pumpkin seeds
(optional) ¼ cup sunflower seeds
Special equipment: 6 x mini bread pans
Preheat oven to 180 Degrees and spray the bread pans with cooking spray
In a heatproof bowl, add the cranberries and cover with very hot water. Set aside for 15 minutes or until plump.
Combine both flours, rosemary, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add brown sugar and continue to whisk. Add buttermilk and gently stir until no dry flower remains.
Drain the cranberries, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds to the batter. Stir gently until evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Divide the butter amongst the bread pans. Fill each pan until ¾ full.
Place the bread pans in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until tops have domed and turned a lovely golden brown. (If you insert a toothpick into the middle of the cakes, it should come out clean. If it doesn’t, further cooking is required)
Remove cakes from bread pans and allow them to cool completely before transferring them to a freezer container and freezing solid.
When you are ready to make your crackers, remove the cakes from the freezer and preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
Slice the frozen cake as thinly as possible using a serrated knife. Continue slicing until you have as many crackers as desired.
Lay the crackers on an oven tray lined with baking paper, ensuring no individual slice touches the next.
Bake the slices for 15 minutes, flip each slice before baking for a further 15 minutes. The crackers are ready when they have lost their pale colour, feel dry to touch and are slightly curled on the edges. The crackers will continue to crisp as they cool.
Crackers can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.
For a Christmas twist, add roasted pecans to the batter at step 4
For more great festive recipe ideas visit: http://allrecipes.com.au/recipes/christmas-recipes.aspx