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Season's Eatings: Sweet Treats

by Alexandra Harcharek

Nanna’s Jelly Cookies
“This recipe was perfected by my great-grandmother and reappears every year.”
Submitted by Mary V. Danielsen, of Mount Laurel, from DocumentedLegacy.com

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 12oz. jar of jam or preserves
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
1 cup walnuts or pecans, finely crushed (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Blend in the remaining ingredients and form a ball. Put it on a lightly floured table and divide into three smaller balls. Roll each ball on the table, between your fingers until it is shaped like a foot-long pretzel stick. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and arrange the rolls on top, evenly spaced apart. With your thumb, press down into the center of each roll to make a lengthwise gully. Spoon the preserves into the impression and garnish with nuts, if desired. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove and let cool. Cut the rolls on a diagonal, about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle cooled cookies with sifted confectioner’s sugar if desired. Yields 2-3 dozen, depending on how many the family sneaks while they’re cooling.

Apple Pie
Submitted by Lorie Medlar, of Runnemede

Ingredients:
1 box of Pillsbury frozen dough- defrosted
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of nutmeg
1 tbsp. lemon juice
8 apples, peeled and cored
1 egg white

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Unroll dough and smooth using a rolling pin. Grease pie dish and place dough in pie dish and set aside. Mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside. Peel and slice apples, place in a large bowl, add lemon juice and mix in sugar mixture until apples are well coated. Place apples into pie dish and use the second pie dough to cover apples. Place vents in the top crust by making slits with a knife. Brush the egg white over the crust prior to baking to give the pie a shiny, golden appearance. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Gingerbread House
“The entire family will enjoy creating a delicious holiday centerpiece with this traditional, versatile dough easily molded into a gingerbread house and then decorated with jelly rounds, candy canes and royal icing.”
- Chef Robert Bennett, of Classic Cake

Ingredients:
8 cup all-purpose flour
2 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
5 eggs
2 1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp. salt
7 cup cake flour
4 tsp. ground ginger
4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves

Directions:
Draw out a template for your gingerbread house or print one from online. Mix all ingredients together. Knead until a firm dough is achieved. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Roll out into even sheets. Cut shapes from template. Bake at 325 F for approximately 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove, cool and assemble. Note: For gingerbread men only, add 1 tbsp. baking soda to the cake flour.

Cappuccino Cake

Ingredients:
1 box plain vanilla cake mix (may require egg and oil)
1/2 cup brewed coffee

For icing:
4 oz. butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. coffee extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 chocolate bar, for grating

Directions:
Prepare cake mix as directed, substituting 1/2 cup coffee for 1/2 cup of the water in mix directions. Split into two cake pans and bake as directed. Meanwhile, prepare icing by creaming butter, cream cheese and coffee extract together until soft. In small batches, add powdered sugar and beat until soft and smooth. Once cake is baked, remove from oven and cool. To assemble, place one cake round on a serving platter and smooth half the icing over top (do not ice the cake’s sides). Top with the second cake round and spread the remaining icing over top, avoiding icing the sides for a pretty, layered look. Finish with grated chocolate and a pinch of cinnamon sprinkled over top – tastes just like your favorite cappuccino.

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 F. Using a mixer or beaters, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Slowly add in flour, baking soda and salt until a light dough forms. Roll out dough on a floured surface, aiming for an even thickness of 1/4”. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters and transfer to baking sheets. Bake 6-8 minutes, until cooked and just golden. Finish with colored sugars, royal icing and other festive decorations.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cupcakes
Submitted by Erica Bauwens, of Mount Laurel

Ingredients:

For cake:
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
8 tbsp. salted butter
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
16 oz. pitted Medjool dates

For toffee topping:
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:
For cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake tins. Using food processor, chop dates to fine pieces. Place the dates in small saucepan with approximately one cup water, then bring to a boil. Remove them from the heat, add the baking soda and allow them to sit for 10 minutes. Cream butter and sugar together in large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, then stir in flour. Fold in dates and pour batter into cupcake tins. Fill about half way, as you need space to pour the toffee topping into the liner. Bake approximately 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
For toffee topping: In a medium saucepan melt the butter. Slowly add the heavy cream, then the vanilla. Once combined, slowly add dark brown sugar. Stir until thickens into a toffee consistency. Pour on top of cooled cupcakes. Makes approx. 24 cupcakes.

Raspberry Chocolate Shortbread Bars

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
12 oz. best-quality raspberry jam
1 2/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 13 X 9-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar and egg. Using a fork, cut in cold butter pieces until the mixture forms course crumbs. Press one half of the mixture into the prepared pan and reserve the other half for topping. Spread jam over the crust and top with chocolate chips. Crumble reserved crumb mixture over top. Bake 40 minutes, until top is lightly browned and filling is melted. Cool completely before cutting. Bars are even better if frozen before being cut.

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Ingredients:
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs
2 cups pecan halves or pieces, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1 tbsp. good quality bourbon
1 prepared 9” pie shell, unbaked

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat butter and brown sugar until light and creamy. Stir in eggs, vanilla, salt, corn syrup and bourbon, mixing well until smooth. Using the prepared pie shell, spread 1 cup pecans over the base of the pie. Pour filling over top, and then arrange remaining pecans over top. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, until fully set. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting. Serve with vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of Bailey’s.

Coconut Cookies
“When you start out with the best quality ingredients, you can’t really go wrong.”
Submitted by Linda Voorhis, of Runnemede, from the Vegetarian Society of South Jersey

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes (best results are with 3/4 cup shaved coconut and 3/4 cup shredded coconut---adds an incredible texture that gets lost if you only use shredded coconut)
1 cup flour (I prefer organic white whole wheat flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup light agave syrup
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, melted
Optional: 10 oz. dark chocolate melted with 1 tablespoon margarine or 1 tablespoon coconut milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large, dry skillet over medium heat, add coconut and stir constantly until flakes are golden brown. Place in a large bowl and cool completely. Once coconut has cooled, whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, agave syrup, and margarine. Stir well, then add into the dry mixture. Mix until just combined, being careful not to over beat. Using a 3-oz. ice cream scoop, portion out dough onto prepared baking sheet. Dampen your fingers and gently press down slightly to make rounds. The cookies will spread out only very slightly during the baking process. Bake 10-12 minutes, until barely browned around the edges and no longer shiny on top. Cool completely on a wire rack. Optional: Dip the bottoms of cooled cookies in melted chocolate to coat. Shake off any excess and place on parchment paper to set.

Sufganiyot — Jelly Donut for Hanukkah
Submitted by Hannah Golden, of Cherry Hill

Ingredients:
6 tbsp. warm water
1 packet (2 1/2 teaspoons) quick-rise yeast
1/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp. buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups flour, divided
3 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
Strawberry jam for filling

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir and set aside until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Add buttermilk, egg and salt and mix with a fork until well combined. Stir in 2 cups flour, in small batches. Using your hands, combine and knead dough for several minutes, until you have a firm (but sticky) ball. Place dough ball in a separate bowl, coated with cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 2-3 hours, until doubled in size. Once risen, transfer dough to a floured surface and pat down. Break off small pieces of dough and form into 1” balls, arranging on a baking sheet. Spray tops with cooking spray and let rise 30 minutes. To fry, heat vegetable oil until very hot (375 F on a thermometer). Cook dough balls in small batches, frying about one minute, until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer donuts to paper towels to drain. Continue frying until all donuts are cooked. To serve, mix powdered sugar and milk together to form a glaze. Brush over warm donuts. Use a piping bag with a small nozzle to fill donuts with fruit jam. Allow to cool.

Tea Poached Pears

Ingredients:
2 cups water
2 black tea bags
½ cup sugar
4 firm pears, halved with seeds scooped out
½ bar good quality dark chocolate

Directions:
In a saucepan, heat water to a boil and add tea bags and sugar. Remove from heat and let steep until water is dark and sweet. Return to stove and add pears. Cover and simmer until pears are tender and slightly darkened by the tea. Remove from water and place in serving bowls. Drain all but 1/4 cup of the tea from the pot and return to. Melt chocolate into the tea to make a sauce. To serve, arrange pears in bowls and drizzle chocolate sauce over top. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired. Garnish with shaved chocolate or a pinch of cinnamon.

Nectarine Cheesecake Tart

Ingredients:
16 oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
3 nectarines or peaches, very thinly sliced
2 tbsp. apricot jelly

For crust:
1 ½ cups crushed graham crackers
¼ cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Directions:
With a mixture, beat cream cheese until smooth. Cream with sugar until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and sour cream and mix until smooth. Refrigerate and prepare crust. In a bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until crumbly. Press into a round tart pan with removable bottom. Preheat oven to 375 F. Pour cheesecake filling into crust and bake approximately 30 minutes, until center is set. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Finish by topping with fruit slices. For a glazed look, heat apricot jelly in microwave for 5 seconds, then brush over the fruit.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
“I love using coconut oil in baked goods. These cookies have coconut oil instead of butter. My family loved them so much that they now go on our holiday cookie tray.”
Lisa Grant, of Cherry Hill, author of JerseyGirlCooks.com

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup toffee bits

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Cream coconut oil and both sugars with an electric mixer; add vanilla and egg and beat until egg is mixed in. Add flour mixture and stir until mixed well. Stir in chocolate chips and toffee bits. Using a small scoop, drop rounded teaspoonfuls on the parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for 10-13 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Remove from oven and cool on a cookie rack. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pops
“These layered frozen popsicles are so easy a kid could do it. You’ll be surprised how flavorful and indulgent they taste…but it’s healthy for you.”
Helen Harcharek, of Mount Laurel

Ingredients:
2 bananas, peeled and mashed
2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
4 packets Truvia sweetener or 2 tbsp. agave nectar, divided
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup milk

Directions:
Microwave banana and peanut butter until melted. Stir well and add half of the sweetener. To make chocolate layer, mix cocoa powder, milk and remaining sweetener. Layer banana peanut butter mixture into popsicle molds or ice cube trays, until almost full. Top with chocolate layer. Add popsicle sticks or toothpicks as holders. Freeze overnight until hardened. If desired, you can dip popsicles in melted chocolate once fully frozen.

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Ingredients:
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs
2 cups pecan halves or pieces, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1 tbsp. good quality bourbon
1 prepared 9” pie shell, unbaked

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat butter and brown sugar until light and creamy. Stir in eggs, vanilla, salt, corn syrup and bourbon, mixing well until smooth. Using the prepared pie shell, spread 1 cup pecans over the base of the pie. Pour filling over top, and then arrange remaining pecans over top. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, until fully set. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting. Serve with vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of Bailey’s.

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 10 (December, 2011).
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