During the holidays it's fun to have treats around the house and at work. It's also fun to make sweet things to give to neighbors and friends. That's why recipe researcher Sheila Kern put together this list of treats that you can make for yourself or share with others. Enjoy!
Crispy Chocolate Almond Sticks
Very thin, plain Italian breadsticks
1 cup meltable chocolate wafers or chocolate bark
2 heaping tablespoons Nutella
1/2 cup very finely chopped almonds or other nuts
Melt chocolate with Nutella and stir together. Add nuts and stir. Break breadsticks in half and dip the broken half in the chocolate/almond mixture, being careful to coat. Lay on waxed paper and sprinkle with extra nuts. Allow to set before serving.
Mexican Wedding Cakes
Bon Appetit | May 2003
Yield: Makes about 4 dozen
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely ground
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then pecans. Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and cinnamon in pie dish to blend. Set cinnamon sugar aside.
Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in cinnamon sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. (Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature; reserve remaining cinnamon sugar.)
Sift remaining cinnamon sugar over cookies and serve.
Makes 36 bars
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup chocolate-covered toffee pieces
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl. Beat in flour and salt until combined.
Spread dough evenly in an ungreased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown and surface is dry. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate pieces. Let stand about 2 minutes or until chocolate is softened; spread evenly. Sprinkle with nuts and toffee pieces. Let cool in pan on wire rack 30 minutes. Cut into bars.
EatingWell: March/April 2007
Yield: 80 (1 1/2-inch) cookies
3 large egg whites, at room temperature (see Tip)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish (optional)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Separate one egg at a time into a small bowl, letting the white fall into the bowl and discarding the yolk. If there's any trace of yolk in the white, discard the white and start over. If it's yolk-free, transfer to a clean medium mixing bowl. Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs.
Add cream of tartar to the whites and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar has been added. Continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds more. Sift 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and cinnamon over the meringue. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold them in along with the chocolate chips until combined; do not overmix.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 200°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a small amount of the meringue under each corner of the paper to secure it to the pan. Fill a 1-quart sealable plastic bag (or pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip) with the meringue. Seal the bag almost completely, leaving a small opening for air to escape from the top as you squeeze. Snip off one corner of the bag with scissors, making a 3/4-inch-wide opening. Fold the top of the bag over a few times, then gently push the meringue down to the snipped corner. Working with the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, pipe the meringue into 1 1/2-inch-diameter cookies, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.
Bake the cookies until dry and crisp throughout, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the cookies cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Sift 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder over the baked meringues for garnish, if desired.
Tips & Notes
Make Ahead Tip: Cookies can be held at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If stored meringues are chewy, bake at 200°F for about 10 minutes to restore their original crisp texture.
Tip: To get the most volume from beaten egg whites, it's best to start with whites at room temperature. Submerge them in their shells in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for about 5 minutes before using.
Yield: 36 biscotti
1/2 cup Land O Lakes Butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 Land O Lakes All-Natural Eggs
3 tablespoons mild molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup mini real semi-sweet chocolate chips, if desired
6 ounces vanilla-flavored candy coating (almond bark), chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 350°F. Combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Add eggs; continue beating until well mixed. Add molasses; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed. Stir in mini chocolate chips, if desired.
Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 12-inch log on lightly floured surface. Place logs 3 inches apart onto lightly greased large cookie sheet. Flatten logs slightly.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until tops are cracked and logs are golden brown. Remove from oven; cool 15 minutes on cookie sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Carefully place logs onto cutting surface. Cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices with serrated knife. Place, cut-side down, onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Return to oven. Bake 9 minutes; turn slices. Continue baking for 5 to 7 minutes or until cookies are dry and crisp. Cool completely.
Place candy coating into small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 1 minute; stir. Continue microwaving, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted and smooth. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
Place cookies onto waxed paper; drizzle with melted candy coating. Let set at room temperature until coating is firm (about 30 minutes).
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
Use dark molasses, if you prefer a more intense flavor.
Orange Spice Molasses Cookies
From EatingWell: November/December 2009
Yield: 40 cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
1/2 cup light or dark molasses
7 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
To prepare the rolling sugar: Pulse 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest in a food processor until well combined. Place in a shallow dish and set aside.
To prepare cookie dough: Grind oats in a blender until they look like a fine powder, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.
Beat butter and 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons orange zest and beat another 2 minutes. Add molasses, applesauce, egg yolk, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper and salt; beat on medium-high until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
Turn the mixer to medium and slowly add the ground oats. Scrape down the bowl; with the mixer on medium, slowly add whole-wheat flour. (The dough will be moderately sticky.)
Using a slightly rounded tablespoon of dough, roll into balls, then roll in the rolling sugar to coat. (If necessary, wet your fingers to help roll without sticking.) The zest will make the mixture slightly wet and it will clump; lightly brush off the excess so that just a thin coat is on the cookie. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the cookies in batches until the edges are set and the tops are cracked, but the centers are still soft and puffy, about 10 minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 8 minutes. Serve warm or cool on a wire rack.
Tips & Notes
Make Ahead Tip: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.