Monday, November 17, 2008

Holiday Treats

It's holiday baking time for me. I usually get started earlier than this but I just haven't been in the mood much this year. On Saturday the baking bug hit me though and I got started with the following 3 recipes.

1/4 cup coarsely chopped maraschino cherries
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted*
Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Drain maraschino cherries on paper towels; pat dry to remove any excess liquid. Set cherries aside.
2. Beat butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in the 1/2 cup powdered sugar, almond extract, and vanilla until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour, nuts, and cherries with a wooden spoon.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until bottoms are lightly brown. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheets on wire racks. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar to coat. Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely.
4. If desired, roll cooled cookies in additional powdered sugar before serving. Makes about 48 balls.
5. *Note: To toast nuts, spread them in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a preheated 325F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until nuts are slightly golden brown, stirring once or twice. Cool completely. Chop nuts and set aside.
6. To store: Place cookies in layers separated by pieces of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw cookies, if frozen, before serving.

2 dozen tassies (serving size: 1 tassie)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Dash of salt
1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, softened
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
Cooking spray

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup light-colored corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 large egg white

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare pastry, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and dash of salt in a small bowl. Combine cream cheese, butter, and milk in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well-blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until blended (mixture will be crumbly). Press flour mixture into a ball.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 3 to 4 times. Divide dough into 24 portions. Place 1 dough portion into each of 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Press dough into bottom and up sides of cups, using lightly floured fingers.

To prepare filling, divide pecans evenly among muffin cups. Combine brown sugar and remaining ingredients; spoon about 2 teaspoons filling over pecans in each muffin cup.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned and filling is puffy. Cool in cups for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife around outside edge of each tassie; remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

*Easy Method--Use ready to bake pie crusts and cut out 3" circles using biscuit cutter or metal lid. Lightly place circle of pie crust into the mini muffin cups and continue with the recipe as above.

1(8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners'sugar, sifted
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2teaspoons vanilla

Ina large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat inconfectioners' sugar until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate andvanilla until no streaks remain. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Shapeinto 1 inch balls.

Notes - Roll truffles in groundwalnuts (or any ground nuts), cocoa, coconut, confectioners' sugar,candy sprinkles, etc.

I make the Pecan Tassies and Truffles every year. The Cherry Walnut Balls are a new recipe for me. They are a lot like a little cookie that I remember my mom making every Christmas when we were kids. Almost every thing that I make (in the way of baked goods) in freeze-able for up to 3 months. I make a LOT of things. I put 1/3 to half of everything out for Thanksgiving, some of it out for our Christmas party and the rest on Christmas day. It works out good because I make so many different things and there is a little bit of everything there.

Today I think I'm going to make my Macaroons and maybe try a new recipe or two. I may even do a little experimenting with the truffle and buckeye recipes. I have an Good thing that we have the deep freeze and the refrigerator freezer. Right now my freezers are stocked with all kinds of chocolate chips, coconut, nuts and extra flour.

Oh, I almost forgot. I have this recipe for making aromatic ornaments that would be a lot of fun to make with the kids. I made these a few years ago and it is probably time to make some more. These would be great if you want a project for the kids to do so they can give them as gifts to Aunts & Uncles or their grandparents. It calls for a LOT of cinnamon so you may want to buy that at a dollar store.

1 Cup ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground allspice
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
Fine decorativeglitter (optional)
Unsweetened applesauce
White craft glue
Drinking straw
Butchers string, jute twine or ribbon
Glue gun (optional)
Magnetic strips (optional)

Combine spices and glitter in medium bowl. Stir, adding applesauce 1 tbsp at a time, as needed to make soft dough. Makes about 1 2/3 cups dough. Divide dough into smaller portions. roll out each portion between sheets of waxed paper to 1/4 inch thickness.

Cut with cookie cutters into desired shapes. Use a drinking straw to puch a hole, or holes, to thread string for hanging. Place on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake in 200 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes until dry. (There is no need to turn at half-time) Thread with string or glue magnets onto back.

~Also thread on a long string with dried apple and orange slices to make a wonderfully scented garland.

Which reminds me...we are out of glitter. That is one of the things Rylie Jo found in my desk and for some unknown reason decided to eat. All I can say is that my child had some of the prettiest poo I've ever seen. So, if you're going to use the glitter and you've got a wee child in the house...make sure you store it somewhere up high where they will never find it. All I can figure out is that she found it in my desk and thought I was hiding a "goodie" from her. "Lord, grant me patience and a HUGE sense of humor as I raise this child." Cuz' you and I know I'm gonna need it.

I've got some more recipes for homemade gifts and I'll post some of them on Wednesday. That will give anyone who wants to try them enough time to copy the recipe, get the stuff needed and make them before Christmas rolls around. Of course, I always come across more things as the season continues, so I'm sure I'll be posting more homemade gift ideas.

Have a blessed week!
Jill Marie


Indigo said...

The recipes sound absolutely delicious! I had to chuckle at the thought of Rylie having colorful poop. Kids eat the strangest stuff. (Hugs)Indigo

~Rebecca Anne~ said...

You got me at Cream Cheese pastry. Anything with Cream Cheese in it is fine by me and it always seems during the holidays I can find more then enough sweets to tickle my taste buds.
Thank you for sharing!!

ADM DESIGN'S said...

They all sounds delious