Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Little Salty Behind The Sweet

I can't tell you how many times I heard those words from my sweet Daddy.

"I just need a little something salty after all that sweet", he'd say.

He'd want a potato chip after a piece of cake, some peanuts after his beloved ice cream, or a cracker or two after one of my Mom's luscious pralines.

A palate cleanser. An equalizer of sorts. But I also on occasion saw him grab another praline after the crackers or some icing off the cake after the chips...

So he played both sides.  I'm telling you the man was sharp.

And since this is the season of all the sweet, I thought we needed to throw in a little salty on the side. I mean things can be too sweet. So can people for that matter. No one I know, of course, but you know what I mean. Sappy sweet. Cloyingly sweet. Let's keep it all mixed up so we don't get bored, OK?

Here's the greatest little cheese wafer (and I'm sorry but it's just not Christmas in a southern household without at least 6 dozen or so of some sort of cheese crackers, wafers, sticks, etc...) that also has just a hint of sweet cherry juxtaposed with cheesy tang and spicy hot pepper.

Like I said. I'm all about mixing it up.

You can make the dough, roll it into log shapes and then refrigerate until you're ready to slice it and bake.

 I've kept it in the fridge for five days or more with banner results. Just make sure you refrigerate
for at least 8 hours to guarantee the butter hardens so the wafers bake up nice and neat without any spreading.

I know you'll like them.

Cherry-Pecan Cheese Wafers

·         1 1/2 cups chopped pecans 
·         1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped sweetened dried cherries (or cranberries)
·         2 cups butter, softened 
·         3 cups  freshly shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese 
·         1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
·         1 1/2 teaspoons salt
·         1 teaspoons ground red pepper
·         ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
·         4 cups all-purpose flour 

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool completely (about 15 minutes).

2. Meanwhile, soak cherries in boiling water to cover 15 minutes; drain and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Beat butter and next 3 ingredients at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended. Gradually add flour, beating just until combined. Stir in cherries and pecans. Shape dough into 4 (12-inch-long) logs; wrap each log in plastic wrap. Chill 8 hours to 3 days.

4. Preheat oven to 350°. Cut each log into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheets to wire racks, and cool completely (about 20 minutes). 

Happy Wednesday!

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