By Alison Ladman
Associated Press Writer
These tiny tarts — named for the small cup or goblet they resemble — could be filled with any chopped dried fruit, but we loved the idea of beautiful golden apricots spiked with honey and amaretto.
But feel free to substitute an equal amount of another dried fruit. Golden raisins, dried figs, dried cherries, or even dried cranberries would all be delicious.
Though technically a tart, tassies are small enough to serve as a cookie. And the rich cream cheese-based pastry used for the crust may remind you of Jewish rugelach.
HONEYED APRICOT TASSIES
The only special equipment needed for this recipe is a mini muffin pan. And to make your holiday baking easier, both the filling and dough can be prepped ahead of time.
Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)
Makes 18 tassies
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the apricots, water and honey. Cook, stirring frequently, until thick and jammy, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the amaretto. Allow to cool completely. If desired, the filling can be prepared up to a week in advance, then covered and refrigerated.
While the apricots cook, make the pastry. In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, butter, flour and salt. Pulse just until the dough comes together. Divide the dough in 2 pieces and pat each into a round about 1/2 inch thick. Cover each round tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerator for 30 minutes, or up to 2 days in advance.
When ready to make the tassies, heat the oven to 400 F. Lightly dust a counter and rolling pin with flour.
Working with one round of dough at a time, roll each until 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut 9 rounds of dough from each piece of dough. Fit each piece into a mini muffin cup. Depending on the number of cups in your mini muffin pan, you may need to work in batches.
Fill each cup with 1 tablespoon of the apricot filling. Cut miniature shapes out of the scraps of dough and top the filling in each cup as garnish. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dough is light golden brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Nutrition information per cookie: 150 calories; 60 calories from fat (40 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 2 g protein; 75 mg sodium.
For anyone who loves macaroon’s, these chewy, cranberry-speckled no-bake cookies should help you satisfy your coconut cravings.
Feel free to decorate these cookies however you like. We prefer to roll them in yet more shredded coconut (toasted is a nice touch), but you also could roll them in chopped pistachios, peanuts, hazelnuts, even pine nuts would be delicious. Or for a sweeter version, get colored decorating sugar from the baking supply shop and roll them in that.
NO-BAKE CRANBERRY COCONUT BITES
Start to finish: 1 hour (20 minutes active)
Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 cups shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 cup toasted shredded coconut, finely chopped nuts or colored sugar
In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the sweetened condensed milk, 4 cups of shredded coconut, the water, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until it forms a thick paste, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the cranberries, then set aside off the heat and allow to cool completely.
Once the mixture has cooled, set out a bowl of toasted coconut, finely chopped nuts or colored sugar. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll each ball in the coating of your choice. The cookies should be stored in an airtight container between layers of kitchen parchment or waxed paper.
Nutrition information per cookie: 110 calories; 60 calories from fat (55 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 1 g protein; 15 mg sodium.
We’ve seen all manner of ways to make brownies a holiday treat, everything from burying peppermint candies in them to topping them with candy canes.
But we prefer the delicious simplicity of this recipe, which swirls lime marmalade and cherry jam over a rich brownie base studded with chocolate chunks and dried cherries. If lime doesn’t do it for you, feel free to leave out the zest and substitute another variety marmalade or jam.
CHERRY LIME BROWNIES
Start to finish: 40 minutes, plus cooling (10 minutes active)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks
1/3 cup lime marmalade
1/3 cup cherry jam
Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with baking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, lime zest and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the flour and cocoa powder, then stir in the cherries and chocolate chunks.
Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Dollop lime curd and cherry jam over the top of the brownie batter. Gently drag the back of a spoon through the top of the batter and the marmalade and jam to swirl them into the surface. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center yields just moist crumbs. Allow to cool in the pan. Cut into 24 bars.
Nutrition information per brownie: 250 calories; 90 calories from fat (36 percent of total calories); 11 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 40 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 29 g sugar; 3 g protein; 100 mg sodium.
Peanut butter cookies — with that iconic crosshatch pattern pressed into their tops — are a holiday classic for many Americans. But as good as they are, we decided to play with the tradition a bit. We spiked our peanut butter cookies with a “jelly” of finely chopped golden raisins. We also ditched the flour in favor of upping the peanut flavor. The result is a slightly sweeter and delightfully chewy take on this holiday cookie.
PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY COOKIES
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Makes 3 dozen cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
15-ounce jar natural peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
In a food processor, combine the granulated sugar and golden raisins, then pulse until chopped to small pieces, but not a puree.
In a medium bowl, beat together the brown sugar, peanut butter, eggs, vanilla and salt until thoroughly mixed. Mix in the sugar and raisins until evenly distributed.
Working in batches, scoop 1 tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Use a fork to make crosshatch design on the top of each cookie, slightly flattening them in the process. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until light golden brown.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Allow the baking sheet to cool between batches. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Nutrition information per cookie: 130 calories; 60 calories from fat (46 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 14 g sugar; 3 g protein; 35 mg sodium.
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