Tensions are a little high. Have you noticed?
Everyone on TV seems to be bashing each other. I’m hearing insults being hurled around, name calling, whining, and I’m pretty sure I caught a nan-er-nan-er-nan-er the other day.
Okay, maybe that last bit isn’t true, but over the past few weeks I haven’t been able to watch TV, look at my Facebook feed, or read comments on a news story without feeling like I’ve somehow been transported back to a second grade playground.
Really, y’all. I know it’s election season. I know we all have strong opinions. I know we all care deeply about the future of our country.
But here’s the thing. We all care deeply about the future of our country. No one wants America to dissolve into a dictatorship, surrender to China, or drown in a sea of debt.
We all want safe neighborhoods, quality education, jobs that pay living wages, thriving businesses, and less poverty.
True, we see different ways of achieving all of these things. But perhaps if we started with our common ground, rather than demonizing, dismissing, or demeaning our opponents, we’d be much closer to finding workable, creative solutions to the issues that face us.
*Steps off soap box*
You know where we could start? Chocolate.
Chocolate is something we can all agree on, right?
Today I would like to declare publicly, in front of God and all you dear faithful blog readers, that I am a proud member of the Chocolate Party.
What’s the platform of the Chocolate Party you ask?
Well, I’m no expert but I think it goes something like this: Bake some delicious chocolatey things. Share them with others. Make friends. Repeat.
That is some serious stuff, people. I think we’ve got the start of world peace pretty well wrapped up in those four sentences.
The Chocolate Party happens to be hosted by Roxana over at Roxana’s Home Baking and it’s a ton of fun. Each month we bake with chocolate and one other seasonal ingredient. Remember those pumpkin chocolate chip cookies? You have the Chocolate Party to thank for that.
This month’s theme was cranberries. I’ll admit I wasn’t particularly thrilled at first. Chocolate and cranberry isn’t a combo I crave, and I’ve never baked anything with the two ingredients before. But once my brain got going on the chocolate cranberry train, I started to get excited. I thought about stuffed french toast, cranberry filled brownies, granola, pie. But then I thought about shortbread. And that’s when I stopped the train.
Shortbread is one of my favorite desserts. It’s the butter. Anything that is comprised primarily of butter has to be good. And when you add cranberries and a squeeze of orange juice to the mix? Well, it’s downright festive!
Of course, these cookies are quite delicious all on their own. They’re tender and fragrant with the smell of orange and tang of cranberries. But it wouldn’t be a chocolate party if we didn’t add some chocolate! So I dipped. And rolled. And suddenly the humble shortbread became a very special treat. This is one you can save for the holidays. It’s pretty enough to hold it’s own on any cookie tray or gift basket.
This is how I want every day of my life to end. Fingers covered in chocolate and pistachios.
My challenge to you today? Bake something delicious. Add some chocolate. Share it with friends. Even better, share it with a friend who disagrees with you.
There are lots of incredible options to choose from at the Chocolate Party. Check it out:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
- ¾ cup dried cranberries, chopped
- Zest of one orange
- 2 teaspoons orange juice
- 8 oz semi sweet chocolate
- ½ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and salt together oh medium high speed for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the bowl every minute or so. The mixture should be creamy and light in color.
- Add the flour and blend until a soft dough forms. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the cranberries, orange zest, and orange juice.
- Line 2 large baking pans with parchment paper. Shape the dough into 1½ inch balls. They’ll look pretty small, but they’ll spread out into nice size cookies so resist the temptation to make them huge (Believe me, I felt it too). Place dough onto parchment paper then use a small glass dipped in sugar (to prevent sticking) to press it into ¼ inch thick rounds.
- Place pans in the freezer for 30 minutes. Do not skip this step. I tried and I ended up with a solid sheet of shortbreads. Not exactly what I was going for.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 degrees. After 30 minutes, remove pans from freezer, place in he oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are very light brown and centers are barely set. They can go from done to burnt quickly so keep an eye on them.
- Allow to cool on the pans. While the cookies are cooling, melt chocolate in a microwave safe container (stirring every 30 seconds) or in a double boiler. Set up a nice dipping station with a bowl of melted chocolate, a bowl of pistachios, and some wax paper.
- Once cookies are cooled, dip them in the chocolate (just halfway), using a spoon to scrape off any extra. Sprinkle the chocolate end with pistachios then lay on the wax paper to dry. Once dry, store in an airtight container, separated by sheets of wax paper for a few days. They might last longer, but we couldn’t keep them around to see.