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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cranberry Pecan Bread

Cranberry-Pecan Bread 
Nothing seems to remind us of the holidays quite so much as cranberry and pecan. Since I had a lot of cranberries left over after making my Cranberry and Fig Stuffing for Thanksgiving, I decided to put them to use in a dessert/breakfast bread.

This is loosely based on an old recipe I have for Praline-Apple Bread but I tweaked it somewhat to create a new moist and flavorful combination indicative of the holidays. The secret ingredients in this are some finely diced figs which add some moisture and a nice flavor as well as some Calvados in which the cranberries are soaked. These add some extra special flavor punch to this delightful and filling bread. The glaze is a simple sugar and butter mixture flavored with a little Calvados.

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided
1 8oz. box of Cream Cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbs. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
3-4 figs, diced very small
1/2 cup Calvados plus 2 tbs. for glaze
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

In small saute pan, toast pecans over medium-low heat, shaking occasionally, until toasted and fragrant (about 4-5 minutes).

In small sauce pan, heat 1/2 cup Calvados and dried cranberries over medium heat until brandy foils. Allow to cook for one minute then remove from heat and allow to cool about 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° and grease and flour a loaf pan. Set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in separate bowl and whisk together. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to cream cheese mixture until just combined. Stir in toasted pecans and pour in cranberry and calvados from sauce pan. Mix until combined.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and spread evenly with spatula. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until toothpick insterted in center comes out clean. After 45-50 minutes, cover top with foil to prevent excessive browning.

Allow bread to cool in pan for 5 minutes then remove to wire rack set over a baking sheet. In small sauce pan, combine brown sugar with butter and 2 tbs. Calvados. Set over medium heat and allow mixture to come to a boil, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Continue boiling for 1 minute then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly then pour over bread. Sprinkle with reserved pecans and extra cranberries if desired.

Allow bread to cool for minimum of 1 hour before slicing. Bread may be wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 1 month.

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