Cook’s Corner

Sweet and savory treats for holiday giving



Orange Glazed Pecans

1/2 cup orange marmalade

2 teaspoons cayenne

10 ounces (3 cups) pecan halves

Coarse salt to taste

1 tablespoon rosemary, or to taste

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Microwave the marmalade for 30 seconds on high. Mix in the cayenne. Spoon mixture over the pecans in a bowl and toss to coat evenly. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Coat with vegetable oil spray. Arrange the pecans on the sheet in a single layer and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until lightly toasted and mildly browned on the bottom. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary. Allow to cool before packaging in airtight containers. Makes about 3 cups.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero from

Per 1/4-cup serving: 222 calories (74 percent from fat), 19.6 g fat (1.7 g saturated, 11 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 2.6 g protein, 12.8 g carbohydrate, 2.8 g fiber, 8 mg sodium.

Sleuth’s Corner

Q: We really miss the soy sesame dressing that was sold in the produce department of the old Gardner’s Markets. It was terrific for marinating fresh, parboiled green beans to serve cold. Is there any chance someone out there has the recipe?

Michelle , Coconut Grove


Cranberry Riesling Compote

Professional chefs often use gelatin sheets rather than granulated gelatin for a clearer product. If you do not have the sheets, substitute 1 teaspoon powdered (a 1/4-ounce envelope has about a tablespoon).

1 pound fresh cranberries (about 4 cups)

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup apple juice

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/3 cup orange juice

1 pinch salt

1 sheet gelatin, soaked in ice water (see note)

4 tablespoons riesling wine

Combine all ingredients and place over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 21/2 cups.

Source: Simi Executive Chef Kolin Vazzoler

Per 2-tablespoon serving: 56 calories, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 0 protein, 13.9 g carbohydrate, 1.1 g fiber, 40 mg sodium.


By Word of Mouth’s Chocolate Cookies

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

6 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into bits

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

8 large eggs

3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons instant coffee granules

4 teaspoons coffee-flavor liqueur such as Kahlua

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a metal bowl set over simmering water, melt the unsweetened chocolate, 3 cups of the chocolate chips and the butter, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale. Beat in the instant coffee and coffee liqueur.

Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Fold in the flour mixture, then the remaining 3 cups chocolate chips. Let the batter stand for 30 minutes. Working in batches, drop the batter by the teaspoonful onto the prepared pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and shiny on top. Cool completely on pan before removing. Makes about 8 dozen cookies.

Source: Miami Herald Cook’s Corner archives.

Per cookie: 113 calories (44 percent from fat), 6 g fat, 23 mg cholesterol, 1 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, trace of fiber, 58 mg sodium.


Salted Chocolate Caramel Rounds

21/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

36 milk chocolate covered round candies (such as Rolos)

12 vanilla caramels, unwrapped

1 tablespoon whipping cream, half and half or light cream

Coarse salt

In a medium bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugars. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour mixture. If necessary, cover and chill for 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Shape dough into 11/2-inch balls. Press a chocolate-covered caramel into each ball and shape dough around caramel to enclose. Place cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For caramel drizzle, in a small saucepan combine vanilla caramels and whipping cream. Heat over medium-low heat until caramels melt and mixture is smooth. Drizzle over cookies and then sprinkle with coarse salt. Let stand until set. Store without caramel drizzle at room temperature in airtight container for 3 days or freeze for 3 months. Makes 36 cookies.

Source: “Baking” by the editors at Better Homes and Gardens.

Per cookie: 149 calories (41 percent from fat), 7.1 g fat (4.4 g saturated, 1.7 g monounsaturated), 25.1 mg cholesterol, 1.9 g protein, 20.7 g carbohydrate, 0.8 g fiber, 113 mg sodium.

For my annual holiday “gifts from the hearth,” I’ve come up with something old, something new, something borrowed — even something blue!

Orange Pecans

Jon Ashton, a charismatic British chef I met at a recent seminar, is the inspiration for the must-try recipe here for Orange Glazed Pecans. These delicious nibbles are amazingly easy and fast to make, and would make a simple salad more appealing. You can make six gift portions in less than half an hour — and 22 minutes of that is baking time. The orange marmalade gives the pecans a sweet overtone and a bit of bitterness, while cayenne provides a hit of heat.

Ashton did not give a recipe (nor does the website of Smucker’s, for which he developed it), so I’m offering my interpretation. You can personalize this by using other flavors of marmalade or jam or different spices. Don’t be afraid to be liberal with the cayenne. For my first batch I used a fiery ground chipotle, and a teaspoon was not enough punch.

For easy gift packaging I used Martha Stewart’s Frosty Elegance icicle treat cones, which give the nuts the flair of a European sweets shop. (Available in craft and kitchen stores, $7.69 for six cones with cellophane bags, tags and ribbon.)


Here’s a gift idea from Simi Winery: Make a conserve, relish or chutney with a favorite wine, and pair a jar of it with a bottle of that wine. Executive chef Kolin Vazzoler supplied the recipe here for his riesling compote.

No time to cook? You can buy a Taste of Sonoma collection to be delivered with a sampling of gourmet foods and a bottle of wine, ($65 to $75 at A portion of the proceeds goes to Action Against Hunger.

Chocolate cookies

My next gift idea was prompted by a request from Rosemary Merrill of Milton, Pa., who misplaced the recipe she clipped from Cook’s Corner for the chocolate cookies once served at By Word of Mouth in Fort Lauderdale.

The recipe goes back to 1992, and has been a perennial favorite. The cookies are dark, moist and fudge-like, with a whisper of coffee flavor.

Cookbook Corner

Many of us have a battered copy of the Better Homes and Gardens all-purpose cookbook, with its red and white checkered cover, on our shelves. I’ve used mine for decades.

If you are looking for a thoughtful gift for both budding and experienced cooks, check out the all-new edition of Better Homes and Gardens Baking (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $29.95). There are more than 400 recipes plus options for adapting recipes to your own taste or downsizing to mini versions. The salted caramel cookie recipe here is a great up-to-date taste to add to cookie baskets.

Donating cookbooks

Mariana of Key Biscayne has downsized, and turned to Cook’s Corner readers for suggestions about where, besides the library, to donate her much-loved cookbooks. Nancy Goldstein of Miami had an excellent suggestion: any of the local cooking schools. “They will be very happy to take them. I donated mine to Johnson and Wales and the students were thrilled!”

Rosita Remedios says she sends crates of cookbooks by sea mail to women’s clubs connected to churches in Mumbai. “They have lunches and dinners to collect funds for the poor.” As a member of the Legion of Mary, she also takes cookbooks when she visits shut-ins and nursing homes. “They may not cook anymore but they love to look through the recipes.”

Send questions and responses to or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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