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Bruschetta for dessert! A soft, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread “crostini”, smeared with caramel cream cheese and topped with a nutty caramel apple crown.
Well, my dears, here we are, 3 days away from Thanksgiving!
Are you as floored as I am? I seriously can not believe it’s already here. I have neighbors with Christmas lights blazing and trees up in their windows already, and I still haven’t put away my Halloween decorations.
This is madness. It was literally just summer like 4 days ago, I swear.
I am amazingly adaptable, though, and in a sudden mad rush to find the perfect desserts to take to Thanksgiving dinner. I’m also in charge of appetizers, so I thought, in a random stroke of genius…why not combine them? Thus, this Caramel Apple Shortbread Bruschetta was born in my kitchen. And honestly, it’s pretty stinkin’ great!
It got me. And by it, I mean the dreaded yearly cold.
Here in Florida, we also got a taste of the “polar vortex” thingy that the rest of the country got this past week. After weeks of 80-90 degree weather, the temperature finally turned lovely! So nice and cool, daytime open window, nighttime boot-and-scarf kind of weather.
So, of course, as per usual at this time of year for me, I caught a damn cold.
I’ve been sick every Thanksgiving week for the last 4 years, if I remember correctly. Which really sucks when you’re trying to enjoy a plate of delicious food. It also makes slogging through the days leading up to Turkey Day in food retail even harder. You’re running only at 85% if you’re lucky, because you have to keep stopping your work to blow your nose and wash your hands.
Vicious cycle, folks.
Aside from my normal vitamins, I’ve been pumping myself full of Natalie’s Orange Juice (my fave!), Yogi Organic Throat Comfort Tea, Airborne Citrus, and DayQuil. I’d really love to squash this thing before it escalates; it’s early enough that I can have it gone by Thursday, so I can actually enjoy all the delicious food, sweets, and wine our annual dinner consists of. Plus, I have to be at 110% to fight the crowds in what will be my first Black Friday shopping day with my Healthy Fit Foodie, Lara, since I was 12.
Maybe I can lure the crazies away from the electronics with some of my Caramel Apple Shortbread Bruschetta. If there are any left.
They are honestly so yummy! Shortbread cookies are a staple in holiday cookie baking, and the base recipe I used here is in my Nana’s cookbook, and I love finding new ways to dip, fill, and top them. Caramel Apple flavors go really well in many desserts, and these cookies are no exception. The shortbread melts in your mouth, and you are left with its flavor, combined with the sweet, slightly crunchy fruity topping, with a lightly sweetened cream cheese bite.
What’s not to love about cookies as an appetizer?
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Apple Topping
- 1-2 apples, any variety, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 4 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- Caramel Cream Cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 2 Tablespoons caramel topping, plus more for drizzling
- In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add in flour 1 cup at a time a mix until on low speed a soft dough forms. It should not be crumbly!
- Remove dough from bowl and set on top of a piece of floured wax paper. Roll in to a 2-inch diameter log, and wrap tightly in the paper. Refrigerate until firm, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.**
- While dough is chilling, prepare apple topping. Combine diced apples, walnuts, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium saucepan, tossing the mixture around until evenly coated.
- Add the butter and heat all over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap log and slice dough 1/4 inch thick. Set slices about 1 inch apart on baking sheets.
- Bake 8 to 11 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and caramel topping and mix with a rubber spatula until caramel is incorporated. You can add more caramel here if you’d like!
- When cookies have cooled, carefully smear caramel cream cheese on top of each one, and them top with 1-2 Tablespoons of apple topping. Drizzle the top with caramel topping and serve!
What’s your favorite holiday appetizer?
And now for a completely different variation!
While I was fiddling around with these Caramel Apple Shortbread Bruschetta, I also experimented with some pecan pie filling and made these divine Pecan Pie Shortbread Cookies, which you can find on My Cooking Spot this week. They are an adorable, snackable version of a classic pecan pie, and are a good example of just how versatile these shortbread cookies are. Be sure to stop by and check out the recipe, and consider adding them to your holiday baking list!