Today, March 21st, our family honors the memory of my father on his birth date. He passed away at the age of 92, 18 years ago. Although my father lost his sight to macular degeneration, he carried on in his life with much courage and dignity. I have great admiration and appreciation of the special man he was.
Having been raised on a farm, chicken was a very common meal. I think my mother probably prepared chicken every possible way there is to cook them. At that time I had never heard of a Cornish game hen let alone eaten one.
By the 1950’s, the Cornish Game Hen was fabulously popular. The usual weight is about 500-700 grams, which makes it ample for an individual serving. I remember in the 1970’s, Cornish game hens were considered to be a very upscale or exotic dinner and quite expensive.
According to legend, the Cornish game hen was actually ‘invented’. The original breeder was a woman by the name of ‘Tea’ Makowsky. At the age of 15, she moved to Paris, France finding work at both a milliner’s shop and a cheese shop. It was here she met her husband and they married in 1933. Fleeing from the Nazis, they settled in the USA. After fire destroyed their farm in 1949. the Makowskis, began experimenting and came up with a cross breed of Cornish game cocks and Plymouth Rock hens. The result was a plump little bird that matured quickly with all-white meat. In less than 5 weeks, the chicken was ready to be sold.
I’m sure had my Dad tasted this stuffed version he would have probably enjoyed it so I thought it was fitting for todays blog recipe.
Apricot Amaretto Stuffed Cornish Hens
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In a small saucepan, combine dried apricots, apple juice & amaretto; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover & simmer 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine muffin pieces, almonds, melted butter, cinnamon & apricot mixture. Mix well.
In a small dish, combine all ingredients. Rinse hens & pat dry. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt inside each hen cavity. Stuff each hen with muffin mixture. Skewer opening together. Place hens' breast side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Spread herb butter over each one then place a bacon slice on each breast. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
In a saucepan over low heat, melt plum jam, stirring frequently.
After 1 1/2 hours of roasting, remove bacon & continue roasting hens, uncovered for 15 more minutes, basting with plum jam every 5 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to ensure hens are cooked through. Remove skewers . Serve immediately.
* To toast almonds, spread on a cookie sheet, bake at 375 F. for 5-6 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring occasionally.
Biscotti are time consuming to say the least, but they’re also one of the easiest and tastiest cookies you’ll ever make. No special equipment is needed; just a bowl, a couple of baking sheets and some parchment paper.
The word biscotti is derived from the Latin biscoctus, meaning twice baked or cooked: the dough is formed into logs, baked, cooled and baked again. Whereas Italians use the word ‘biscotti’ to refer to various cookies, North Americans use the term to refer to the singular long, crisp, twice-baked Italian cookie. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that biscotti became a treasured North American favorite.
Despite their centuries old heritage, there is no one perfect way to make biscotti. Some recipes call for eggs, which is the traditional method, while others use butter or oil. The choice is yours; just keep in mind that those made with butter or oil will have both a softer texture and a shorter shelf life.
Today, it seems, biscotti is everywhere with an endless array of flavors. Classics such as almond, anise and hazelnut to gingerbread, maple walnut or mint chocolate chip. There are also savory biscotti made with various cheeses and herbs that are so good when paired with a charcuterie plate, an assortment of olives and cheeses or even a bowl of soup.
Since the holiday season is upon us and as you have probably noticed, I like making the most of basic recipes with some variations. Being able to make four different flavors using one basic recipe definitely speeds up the process.
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Basic Biscotti Dough (use 1 recipe per variation)
Cardamom Orange Variation
Seeded Cranberry Variation
Speculoos Spice Variation
Preheat oven to 300 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
TO MAKE 80 BISCOTTI IN TOTAL, USE ONE RECIPE OF THE BASIC BISCOTTI DOUGH FOR EACH VARIATION. THE MIXING PROCEDURE IS ALWAYS THE SAME, JUST VARY EACH ONE WITH THE DIFFERENT ADDITIONS.
Using an electric mixer, cream together butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add eggs & vanilla extract (add orange zest in CARDAMOM ORANGE variation). Mix until combined.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, (SPICES where called for), baking powder & salt.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing on low until JUST incorporated. Add CITRON PEEL or PEPITA SEEDS & CRANBERRIES to the variations calling for them.
Shaping & Baking
For each recipe (or variation), shape dough into a log that is about 16-inches long. Place 2 logs on each baking sheet. Use your hands to flatten the dough logs until they are about 3/4-inch thick. Gently press the sides & ends of the logs to even them out & flatten them.
If desired, sprinkle logs with coarse sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden & the center of the logs is almost firm & bounces back when touched.
Let the logs cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 275 F. Using a sharp knife to cut the logs into 3/4-inch thick diagonal slices. Press straight down with the knife, rather than using a sawing motion. Lay the slices, cut side up, back on the lined baking sheets.
Bake another 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through baking time. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months.
You will have roughly 20 biscotti from each variation.
- Since I have a nut allergy, sadly I can't use them, but don't hesitate to make some variations of your own.
There are certain plants that play important and often mysterious roles in holiday traditions and celebrations all over the world. From the Egyptians who decorated trees during the winter solstice, to the Pagans and Druids who used mistletoe in their winter customs, stories of ritualized plant use span continents and history and have become infused into the mythologies that span generations. I’ve always wondered how poinsettias and Christmas became intertwined. After a bit of research this is what I found.
It seems the story behind poinsettias is rich in history and lore. The vibrant plants are native to the rocky canyons of Guatemala and Mexico. Poinsettias were cultivated by the Mayans and Aztecs, who valued the red bracts as a colorful, reddish-purple fabric dye, and the sap for its many medicinal qualities. The poinsettia was first associated with Christmas in southern Mexico in the 1600s, when Franciscan priests used the colorful leaves and bracts to adorn extravagant nativity scenes.
There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettias and Christmas come together, it goes like this:
There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
‘Pepita’, he said, ‘I’m sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus happy.’
Pepita didn’t know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena’, or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’.
The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.
Although it doesn’t pre-date Christianity like its Christmas counterparts, the holiday season wouldn’t be the same without the reds and greens of the poinsettia.
Poinsettia Cookie Wreath
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In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, sugar & flavorings with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour & salt until combined. Divide the dough between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap. Flatten each into a 1/2-inch-thick disk and wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Roll out 1 disk of dough between 2 heavy sheets of plastic wrap into a square about 1/8 inch thick. You should be able to cut (9) 3-inch squares from it as well as have some edges left for making about 18 leaves. Re-wrap & refrigerate dough scraps while you shape the poinsettias.
Cut a 1 1/2-inch slit in all four corners of each dough square to form 8 points. Fold over every other point, moisten tip with egg white & press into the center of the square. Arrange cookies on prepared cookie sheet. Refrigerate while you repeat the same procedure with the other disk of dough.
Cut enough leaves out of the scraps using a sharp knife or a leaf-shaped cutter, making 2 leaves for each poinsettia. Arrange the leaves on plate & lightly brush with egg white, then sprinkle with green sanding sugar. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Lightly brush the poinsettias with egg white & sprinkle half with red sanding sugar & half with white sanding sugar. Brush the ends of 2 leaves & tuck underneath each poinsettia on opposite sides. (No need to press the dough; it will meld together as it bakes.)
Bake, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the cookies are puffed and the edges are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately press a yellow (chocolate) candy in the center of each warm cookie. Let cool 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Spicy Wreath Cookie
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix until a dough forms. Roll dough into a long strip about 43-inches in length.
On a sheet of parchment, draw a round circle about 13 1/2-inch circumference. Place on a baking sheet or use a large round pizza pan.
Lay the long strip of cookie dough in a circle following your pencil drawing to form the wreath base on the parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten gently to about 1-inch thickness. With a knife, make zig-zag indentations on the dough.
Bake for about 20 minutes until done but not overbaked. Cool.
Using a bit of gel paste from a purchased tube, anchor each cookie in place on top of wreath base to form 'poinsettia wreath'. Finish with adding a ribbon or some holly leaves & pinecones or personalize to your own taste.
- I like to save the heavy plastic wrap from frozen puff pastry for recipes like this. When you roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap as opposed to using flour on your board, it really keeps the dough from becoming so dry.
- I found if I took the poinsettia cookies out of the oven about 5 minutes before they were finished baking & pressed the candy center in then returned them to the oven, the candies stuck to the cookies better.
Plum Torte, a simple to make butter cake topped with Italian prune plums, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon baked in a spring-form pan. New York Times food columnist Marian Burros was given a recipe for a plum torte soon after she married. She published the recipe for the first time in 1983. The paper continued to run it for the remainder of the decade every single September, until one year they said enough is enough. But people noticed, and they were not happy. They sent angry letters demanding the recipe be reprinted. So, The Times printed it one more time, but with a note urging people to clip it out and laminate it inside their cupboard!
The beauty of this torte is that it doesn’t require plums to be delicious. You can substitute berries, peaches, pears, apples—most any fruit—fresh, canned, or frozen. The thing is, it’s so simple, that in spite of its hallowed status as an all-time favorite, I don’t see how you could forget this recipe!
The plum has enough tang to stay interesting in a sweet dessert, and it also tends to bake into a jammy, gooey texture.
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Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8" or 9" springform pan.
Cream the butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl. Add the eggs; beat until smooth and light. Scrape the bowl again. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, & salt; add to creamed mixture & mix JUST until fully combined.
Pour the batter into the cake pan. Arrange the plums, on top of the cake. Press plums down into batter. Drizzle with lemon juice & sprinkle with a Tbsp of sugar & 1 tsp cinnamon.
Bake for 50 - 60 minutes, depending on the size of the cake, or until a cake tester comes out clean, and the plums are juicy and bubbling.
Let cool before releasing the cake from the springform pan.
Homespun desserts such as crisps, cobblers, betties, slumps & pandowdy’s are all variations on the same theme. As much as we like to be definitive, these old fashioned desserts are ‘folk-food’ passed down orally from mother to child and like all folk culture slight variations arise from kitchen to kitchen.
My spice drawer gets a good workout in the fall. I want to add fall spices to as many things as possible. Warm fruit desserts are a perfect candidate for doing just that.
The filling for this cobbler is a combination of peaches, brown sugar, butter and some added spices. All of that is cooked briefly to give it a caramel-like flavor. The topping is a simple one but the combination of spices adds such amazing flavor and is the perfect complement to the peaches. I’ve added cardamom to both the filling and topping. If you follow the blog, you are probably aware of my obsession with cardamom. Definitely feel free to use your favorite combination and ratio of spices.
I think this Chai-Spiced Peach Cobbler is everything you could ever want in a fall dessert.
Chai-Spiced Peach Cobbler w/ Pepita Oat Crumble
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In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, rolled oats, pistachios, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom & sugar.
Using a pastry blender, combine flour mixture with butter until it resembles a coarse meal. Store the mixture in the fridge until ready to use.
Place a large saucepan over medium heat & add in butter. Once the butter is melted, add in the (thawed) peaches, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom & black pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer & cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Pour cooked peaches into a large casserole dish & evenly top with the pistachio-oat crumble.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown & the sauce bubbles around the edges.
Once finished baking, serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream if you wish.
‘Tis the season for fall flavors! Nature is offering an abundance of root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes and fruits to make use of in our fall baking.
Thinking about autumn can bring about some pleasant thoughts. While it is common to think about cozy scarves and pumpkin lattes, the symbolic meanings of autumn are more profound than you think. Ancient cultures, science and astrology have associated many aspects of this beautiful season to human life. These symbolic associations are powerful reminders that Mother Nature has an incredible influence on our lives.
These fall cookies are full of green zucchinis, deep orange carrots and bright red apples, colorful representations of the changing season ahead.
Carrot Cake Cookies
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Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, cardamom, baking soda & salt.
In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together applesauce, honey (or maple syrup), egg & vanilla. Mix in the melted butter.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the nuts/seeds, grated zucchini, carrot & apple.
Use a large scoop or measuring cup to drop 1/4-cup portions of dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Use your fingers to gently shape the cookies and flatten slightly, as they won't flatten on their own during baking.
Bake 14-15 minutes, until set and lightly golden. (If baking more than one pan at a time, be sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time.)
Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Although there are many myths about the origins of the ‘churro’, most people believe there are three realistic stories and in each of them, the original country of churros is different: Spain, China & Ancient Egypt.
First of all, if you are not familiar with churros, they are a sweet snack consisting of a strip of fried dough dusted with sugar or cinnamon and usually served with a small bowl of hot, thick chocolate. Brion & I tasted them for the first time when we were travelling in Spain in the winter of 2014.
The inventor of churros has often been researched, but the truth is that this dessert was created so many years ago, that only a whole country can be named when talking about its beginnings.
Although, today you can find numerous shapes for churros, the traditional one is from Spain, being a large, semi-circle of fried dough. This shape is actually very similar to horns of the ‘churra sheep’ that are native to the Iberian Peninsula.
The relationship between Churros and chocolate is almost inseparable, either in a cup or as a filling. However, this combination is not exclusive because Mexico, Philippines, Argentina & Chile all eat a different kind of churro. In Cuba they created the guava filled churros or eat them with ice cream in different flavors.
As per usual, I’m always looking for a way to have deep fried foods baked. I guess it stems from my many years of being in the commercial food service industry when it seemed everything was deep fried. I resist having to smell or eat anything that has to be fried in hot oil. That being said, here’s my take on a churro dessert that is baked and filling it with some strawberry cream cheese.
Baked Churro Bowls
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Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add water, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil and stir until butter is completed melted. Turn off heat and add in flour. Stir until all flour is incorporated and becomes a smooth dough ball. Add in eggs and stir into dough, mixing until dough becomes smooth and uniform again. Scoop dough into a pastry bag.
Invert your MINI muffin tin or cake pop pan, so that the bottoms are facing up, and lightly grease the exterior of 21 of the molds. I recommend you space them out, skipping every other mold, so that the bowls aren't too close together. Using a star tip, pipe around the greased molds until you cover the entire mold. Make sure when you are piping that each new circle layer is touching the previous layer, so that there are no gaps. Bake for 25-30 minutes until churros turn golden brown and are crispy. A pool of oil will be puddled at the bottom of the baking pan, but you can ignore that.
Gently remove the churro bowls from the molds and let cool for a few minutes. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Pour into a Ziploc bag. Place one churro into the bag at a time, moving the churro bowl around in the bag until the exterior of the bowl is completely covered in cinnamon sugar. Repeat with remaining churro bowls. Do not skip the sugar step as your churros will have little flavor without the sugar. I also found that the Ziploc bag method works much better than just simply trying to roll the churro bowls in a bowl filled with the cinnamon sugar. Set aside until your filling is ready.
Pulse softened cream cheese, strawberries & sugar in a food processor until smooth. If berries aren't juicy enough & mixture is too thick, adjust consistency with a few drops of milk. If it is too thin, adjust with a little more cream cheese.
I left my filling fairly runny but make it as stiff as you wish, it will taste great no matter what! Fill churro cups with filling & top with more strawberries - whole or sliced. Serve immediately.
- Another filling alternative would be some Kahlua & Fresh Fruit:
- 6 cups fresh fruit
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 3/4 cup Kahlua
- Cut fruit into 3/4-inch pieces & place in a bowl, sprinkle with brown sugar.
- Add Kahlua; stir gently. Cover & refrigerate 30 minutes to blend flavors.
I have an obsession with rhubarb. I think because it is something I grew up with that makes it a nostalgic thing for me. Now, I’ll be the first to admit when it comes to rhubarb, my mind immediately jumps to desserts. But, over the years, I’m leaning more and more to using it in savory ways.
Tart and tangy, with just a little bit of sweet and spicy complexity, this rhubarb sauce is a unique and unexpected twist that is perfect served with coconut shrimp.
Brion & I love coconut shrimp which is really odd given that neither of us like coconut?? One of the nice things about this meal is that it takes minimal prep work but gives great results. We have tried many versions of sweet & spicy sauce with these shrimp and enjoyed them all. Today we’re experimenting with this savory rhubarb sauce. Should be good!
Coconut Shrimp w/ Spicy Rhubarb Sauce
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In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon & cumin. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb & onion; increase heat slightly & cook until rhubarb is tender & mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Cool then place in a food processor with Hot Red Pepper Jelly & process to a smooth sauce. Adjust the amount of red pepper jelly used to your liking. Set aside.
Using 3 separate bowls, place flour in the first, beaten egg in the second & panko/coconut mixture in the third.
Clean & devein shrimp. Dust them with flour then dip in the egg & lastly coat with panko/coconut mixture.
Preheat skillet over medium heat. Melt butter then add oil. Once the combo is heated, place the shrimp in the skillet & cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Place cooked shrimp on paper towel then serve with spicy rhubarb sauce. We enjoyed these shrimp as a main course with rice & some steamed broccoli.
Rhubarb is the rebel of the vegetable world. It looks like celery, tastes like sour candy, its leaves are poisonous and unlike most spring and summer produce, its barely edible raw. With such a feisty personality, its no wonder some are intimidated to cook it.
More than any other fruit or vegetable, rhubarb to me is the sign of the changing season. It is the signal that summer is arriving in those ruby red or speckled green & pink stalks. I snap up what I can in the garden and when I see it at the supermarket. I take all I can and more, slicing and freezing the excess for rhubarb cravings that come in winter.
Year-round, I save rhubarb recipe ideas I hope to make once I get my hands on the first stalks of the season. No summer would be complete without cinnamon rhubarb bread …. still warm from the oven and the heavenly smell of cinnamon in the air!
Cinnamon Roll Rhubarb Bread
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In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except vanilla & food color. Heat to medium high & stir occasionally until rhubarb begins to break down completely. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla & food coloring; allow to cool to room temperature.
In a small dish, combine yeast with lukewarm water & 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes until frothy.
In a large bowl, slightly melt butter; cool a couple of minutes then whisk in egg. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt & remaining sugar. Add yeast mixture to butter mixture, whisking together. Add flour mixture, combine then turn on a floured work surface & knead for about 5 minutes. Dough will be very soft but not sticky.
Lightly grease bowl, place dough ball in it & cover with a towel. Place in a draft-free place & allow to rise for about 20 minutes. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan; set aside
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & press down to deflate it. Fold in the two opposite sides to meet in the middle, then fold in the remaining two sides to meet, so that you've formed the dough into a square. Press down to flatten it slightly, then cover loosely and let stand for 10 minutes
With a floured rolling pin, rolling the dough to form a rectangle that's 12 by 22 inches. Make the corners as square as possible. If you're having trouble with the dough shrinking back, pause briefly before trying again.
Spread rhubarb/cinnamon filling over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Now fold the two long sides of the dough in one at a time, so that the meet each other in the middle. Pinch them together gently to seal the seam. Gently roll over the surface with a rolling pin to flatten the folded dough to about 7 by 25 inches.
Starting at the narrow end, roll up the dough, making a thick spiral. When you get to the end, brush a little egg wash on the loaf at the spot where the end will hit. Pinch the end a bit to seal it.
Carefully & gently place the roll, seam side-down in the buttered pan. The roll of dough should nearly fill it. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap & place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 25-30 minutes, until almost doubled & about 2 inches above the top of the pan. Meanwhile, adjust the oven racks so that you have one rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven.
Lightly brush remaining egg wash over loaf & bake for about 20 minutes. You may need to cover the top loosely with aluminum foil towards the end of baking to prevent over-browning. Bake until the loaf, when removed from the pan, sounds hollow when tapped with your fingertips. Cool on a rack.
Make glaze by whisking together 2 Tbsp rhubarb filling, 1 cup powdered sugar, and enough lemon juice to make the glaze pourable (1-2 tbsp should do it). When bread has slightly cooled, drizzle with glaze if desired.
Hot Cross Buns, the sweet roll with a mythical history, are an Easter classic. This simple piece of spiced bread decorated with a cross, while not an extravagant treat, is a global food tradition. Given their long running history, it is no wonder there are so many fables surrounding their origin. From warding off evil spirits to cementing friendships, the stories of hot cross buns can be documented back to 6th century Greece.
While hot cross buns are now sold and enjoyed throughout the year, they were once reserved for Good Friday alone. Brion & I are extremely fond of these little gems, so every year I enjoy to come up with a new version but still not straying away from the original iconic bun (or bread) taste.
Hot Cross Cream Cheese Braid
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In a bowl with a lid, marinate prepared dried fruit in your choice of alcohol or orange juice overnight or at least 30 minutes.
In a bowl, combine yeast, lukewarm milk & 1 Tbsp sugar; allow to sit until frothy.
In a bowl, combine flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom & ginger.
In a larger bowl, melt butter slightly; add remaining sugar, beaten egg, vanilla, a portion of the marinated fruit & frothy yeast mixture. Combine then add flour mixture & continue mixing to combine all ingredients.
On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 15 minutes. If necessary, add a bit more flour. Shape into a ball; place in a greased bowl, turn over once or twice to coat the dough with oil. Cover, let rise until doubled, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
Cream Cheese Filling
In a bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla & any excess rum drained off fruit until smooth.
Assembly & Baking
On a lightly floured work surface or parchment paper, roll the dough into a 12 x 14-inch rectangle, ensure an even thickness of 1/4 inch.
Along one long side of the dough make parallel, 4-inch long cuts that are 1-inch apart (like piano keys), with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Repeat on opposite side, making sure to line up these cuts with those you have already made on the other side.
Spoon all but 1/4 cup cream cheese filling down the center of the rectangle. (Reserve the 1/4 cup of the cream cheese for making crosses on baked braid). Leaving 1-inch on the top & bottom unfilled. Smooth cream cheese mixture then top with remaining marinated fruit.
Begin folding the cut side strips of dough in pairs over the filling at an angle, alternating left, then right, as if you were braiding, until you reach the other end. Tuck the ends underneath the braid.
Transfer to a baking sheet; cover with a loose plastic wrap & a towel. Allow to rise in a draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Just before placing braid in the oven, make the egg wash & lightly brush over the top of the braid.
Bake 20 minutes until golden brown. Check after 15 minutes; if the braid is starting to brown to fast, float a piece of foil, shiny side down, over it. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly.
Place 1/4 cup cream cheese mixture in a small piping bag that has been fitted with a small round tip. Make crosses on braid.
- If you would prefer, mix all the marinated fruit right into the dough instead of putting some in the filling.
- If you would rather not decorate with some crosses on top, use all cream cheese in the filling, your choice.