The holiday season is here and with it the onslaught of holiday gatherings with friends and family. Whether you’re hosting a holiday party this year or bringing something to someone else’s party, I’ve got you covered with a few of my favorite recipes that are sure to wow. I’m going to help you with something sweet, something savory, and a sure-to-please celebratory drink – all featuring Michigan ingredients, of course!
Michigan Jam Thumbprint Cookies
I learned to make these cookies while working at American Spoon Foods in Petoskey. During the holiday season, I would make them almost every day I worked to share with customers. They’ve since become a classic in my own kitchen at the holidays (and throughout the year). These cookies are simple and rather easy to make, while also beautiful and delicious!
Michigan is so lucky to grow a huge variety of fruits, and therefore also be home to endless jam-makers. Fill these cookies with jam from your favorite local source – raspberry, cherry-raspberry, and peach are my favorites but most jams will work. Just about every farmers market has a small-scale local jam maker selling jam from local fruits, but some of my favorite widely-found companies are American Spoon Foods, Esch Road, and Slow Jams.
- 2/3 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup pecans, chopped very finely
- about 1/2 jar Michigan jam
Cream butter and sugar together using an electric mixer or a strong arm until it has lightened in color and is fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 2 egg yolks and vanilla, stir to combine. Add half of flour and stir until totally incorporated. Add remaining flour and stir until incorporated. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Set up a little work station for forming the cookies. Lightly whisk egg whites in a small bowl, and place chopped pecans in another bowl. Roll chilled dough into 1 inch balls. Coat each cookie with egg white, then roll in pecans. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. (Pro tip: use one hand in the egg and the other in the pecans or your hands will be covered in pecans and you’ll need to wash them a lot to get through all the cookies.)
Use your thumb or index finger to make an indent in the middle of each cookie (for the jam!). If the cookies are too cold and the dough breaks a bit, push them back together. You don’t want any cracks where the jam might escape.
Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cook completely on a cooling rack, then fill with jam! Recipe makes about 20 cookies.
Vibrant Beet & Kale Bruschetta with Goat Cheese
Bright beets and delicious greens are what makes these appetizers a perfectly festive treat for any holiday party. Plus, we all know that we could use a little more veggies and a little less sugar at most holiday parties.
Beets and kale are easy to find this time of year at your local farmers market or a grocery store that you know supports local growers. Bakeries around the state are turning out baguettes that would work great for this recipe. Goat cheese from farms and creameries around the state takes a bit more searching, but is relatively easy to find. Some of my favorite fresh goat cheeses in the state come from Idyll Farms, Zingerman’s Creamery, White Lotus Farms, and Evergreen Lane Farm & Creamery.
- 1 fresh baguette, sliced into about 3/4 inch slices
- 2 large beets
- 1/2 bunch kale, roughly chopped and steamed or sautéed lightly
- 4 oz goat cheese
- 1 clove garlic
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
Wrap beets in foil, place on baking sheet and bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce through them. Let cool, then remove skins and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices that will fit easily on your baguette slices.
Place slices of baguette on a baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Place in the oven under the broiler for about 1-2 minutes, until golden brown.
Peel your clove of garlic, and gently rub it on the bread slices allowing just a bit to come off on each one. Spread a thin layer of goat cheese on each slice, then drizzle with just a bit of balsamic vinegar. Layer kale and one slice of beet on top of the goat cheese.
Display on a serving platter, and share with your friends and family!
Irish Coffee meets Michigan Ingredients
Entertaining at home this holiday season? Classic Irish coffee has been a long time holiday favorite in my family’s house, and I’ve continued the tradition in my own home. Coffee, Irish whiskey, and brown sugar are topped with lightly whipped cream to create a beautiful guinness-looking coffee drink. If you have glass or other clear cups to make this in, do use them. This rich, sweet, and boozy drink is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Make this drink purely Michigan by using all the local ingredients you can! We have plenty of amazing coffee roasters in this great state. Some of my favorites are Higher Grounds, Roos Roast, and MadCap. I always use a classic Irish whiskey when making this (my Irish heritage really shows through!) but you can definitely use a Michigan-made whiskey as well, just be sure you’re not using bourbon… the flavor just isn’t quite right. Source your heavy cream from a local dairy – Calder Dairy and Shetler Family Dairy both have amazing cream!
This recipe lists the ingredient amounts for each serving, but make as many as you want!
- 6 oz freshly brewed coffee
- 1 oz whiskey
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
First, whip the cream using a whisk or mixer. You don’t want it to be as thick as typical whipped cream. It should just form gentle peaks when you lift the whisk, and they should immediately fall back into the cream. This is so you can pour it on top of the drinks to form that classic whipped cream layer.
Pour whiskey into each cup, followed by coffee. Gently stir sugar into each cup until it dissolves. Then, gently pour the cream over the back of a spoon, so it falls gently onto the coffee and sits in a layer on top. I like to pour it from a small spouted bowl, but you can also use a ladle to scoop it into the cups.
Serve immediately, and enjoy!
Pro Tip: Prepare the ingredients ahead of time. Keep hot coffee in a thermos and whipped cream covered in the fridge.
What are some of your favorite holiday recipes using Michigan ingredients?