Notes: Up to 3 days ahead, make, cover, and chill candied cranberries. Up to 2 days ahead, crisp lettuce. Up to 1 day ahead, slice, cover, and chill cheese; make crusts, cool, and store airtight at room temperature.
2 cups cranberries, fresh or thawed frozen
About 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon mixed whole pickling spice
1 baguette (8 oz.)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
About 1/2 pound cheddar cheese
30 to 36 inner butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisped
6 glacéed chestnuts, cut into quarters (optional)
How to Make It
Sort cranberries and discard any soft or decayed fruit. Rinse berries. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan, combine cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar, and pickling spice. Cover and set over low heat. Stir occasionally until cranberries are translucent, sugar dissolves, and a syrup forms, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and let stand until cranberries are warm or cool.
Meanwhile, cut baguette diagonally into 30 to 36 slices. Lightly brush 1 side of each slice with butter. Set slices, buttered side up, in a 10- by 15-inch pan. Mix salt with 1 teaspoon sugar and lightly sprinkle over bread.
Bake baguette slices in a 325° oven until bread is dry and golden at edges, about 20 minutes. Use warm or cool.
With a cheese spade or vegetable slicer, cut cheese into thin slices and mound lightly in a dish. Put cranberries, lettuce, and chestnuts in separate small bowls. Arrange baguette slices in a basket.
To eat, set a baked baguette slice on a lettuce leaf and top with a slice of cheese, candied cranberries, and a chestnut piece.