1 1/2 cups raisins, chopped
2/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup soft dried figs, chopped
1 cup currants
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup brandy
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup blanched almonds, chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
No traditional Christmas dinner is complete without pudding. It is best if allowed to mature for at least two days before serving, but it can be made up to three months ahead.
Makes 12 to 16 servings.
Preparation time: 5 hours and 3 days.
Grease a 2-quart ceramic mold or casserole.
In a large bowl, place all the fruit and pour the brandy over it. Stir well to disperse the brandy. Cover with a towel and set aside to macerate 12 to 24 hours.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat the butter and sugar until thick and creamy. Beat in the zests and eggs. Fold in the fruit and almonds. Add the flour and spices, combining well, then fold in the bread crumbs.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared mold, press down well, and level the surface. Cut a sheet of wax paper 2 inches larger than the top of the mold. Pleat the wax paper twice through the center to allow for expansion as the pudding rises. Place the paper on top of the pudding and cover it with a twice-pleated double thickness of foil. Tie foil securely to the edge of the mold with string.
Place the mold on a rack in a Dutch oven or other large covered pot. Pour boiling water into the Dutch oven until it is halfway up the side of the mold. Keep water at a gentle boil. Steam for 4 hours, topping the boiling water to the same level when necessary.
Remove the mold from the Dutch oven and set on a rack to cool. When thoroughly cooled, rewrap with fresh wax paper and foil, and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Steam again for 2 hours or microwave to reheat before serving.
1 1/3 cups honey
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup blanched almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter, softened
This tasty cake from Germany keeps well and suits many occasions but is especially nice on a chilly day at holiday time. Serve with a hot cup of tea or a fresh brew of coffee.
Makes 24 servings.
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square pan and line with waxed paper.
In a large saucepan over low heat, stir the honey and granulated sugar together. Add the butter and stir until melted. Remove saucepan from the heat.
Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add to the honey mixture. Stir in the almonds, cranberries, and spices, mixing well to combine. The mixture will be sticky.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan; level and smooth the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick or tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack.
For the icing: In a small bowl, mix together the confectioners sugar, lemon juice, and butter with a wooden spoon until blended and smooth. Ice the cake while it is still slightly warm. Store the cooled cake in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
These popular Italian cookies are twice baked, which gives them a crisp, hard texture and makes them perfect for dipping. Biscotti freeze well, so make an extra batch to have on hand.
Makes about 24 to 30.
Total time: 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend to combine. Stir in the nuts.
Halve the dough and, with lightly oiled hands, roll each half into a log about 2 inches thick and 12 inches long. Place the logs on the baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes, or until golden.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
Transfer the logs to a breadboard. Using a serrated knife, slice them about 3/4 inch thick at a 45 degree angle. To avoid crumbling, use firm, decisive strokes. Place the slices flat on a baking sheet and return to a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, turning once, to dry them.
Cool on a rack. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for two to three weeks.
4 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/4 cups cornstarch
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 tablespoons rosewater
red food coloring (optional)
1 cup confectioners sugar
This appealing candy is easy to make at home. Rosewater can be found at specialty food stores. When the sugar syrup boils, coat the inside of the saucepan with a brush dipped in water to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
Makes 80 pieces.
Total time: 2 hours.
Oil a 9-inch square pan. Line with plastic wrap and oil the plastic wrap.
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, 1 1/2 cups of the water, and the lemon juice. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture boils. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, without stirring, until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (240°F on a candy thermometer). Remove the pan from the heat.
In a second large heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir together 1 cup cornstarch and the cream of tartar. Gradually stir in the remaining 3 cups of water until no lumps remain. Stir constantly, until the mixture boils and is a thick, gluey paste.
Slowly pour the hot sugar, water, and lemon juice syrup into the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often to prevent sticking, for about 1 hour, or until the mixture has become a pale golden color.
Stir in the rosewater and tint as desired with food coloring. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Cool to room temperature and let stand, uncovered, overnight to set.
Sift the confectioners sugar and the remaining 1/4 cup cornstarch onto a large cutting board. Turn the Turkish delight out and cut into 1-inch squares with an oiled knife. Roll pieces in the sugar mixture to coat well. Store in an airtight container with sheets of waxed paper, dusted with the sugar mixture, separating every layer.
vegetable oil cooking spray
1/4 cup pecans (1 oz.)
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (chopped fine)
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp. bourbon
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
2 to 3 tsp. powdered sugar
No one wants to watch fat calories this season. So we asked Alice Medrich to create a guilt-free cake exclusively for American Health. Chocolate is Americans' No. 1 dessert choice, even though we know the dangers of high-fat foods.
So what's a chocoholic to do? Learn to bake healthier with a lesson from dessert diva Alice Medrich. "This is one of the quickest, richest-tasting lowfat chocolate desserts," says Medrich of the Chocolate-Pecan- Bourbon Cake she created for American Health. "The texture changes subtly depending on whether it's served warm, room temperature or cold, but it's excellent all three ways."
Medrich, author of the award-winning Chocolate and the Art of Lowfat Desserts, doesn't use artificial sweetener or fake fats. She takes advantage of the volume and lightness of egg whites and rich-flavored cocoa powder. This ingenious cake contains fewer than 200 calories and less than 7 grams of fat per slice. Now that's cause for celebration!
Position oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8 x 2-1/2-in. springform pan lightly with vegetable oil spray.
In a food processor or blender, pulverize pecans and flour until the mixture has the texture of fine meal. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and 3/4 cup sugar. Add boiling water; whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in egg yolks and bourbon. Set aside.
Combine egg whites with cream of tartar in a medium-size bowl. Beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in remaining sugar and beat at high speed until the mixture is stiff but not dry. Whisk flour and pecans into chocolate mixture. Fold 1/4 of egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. It will sink like a soufflé, and the top crust may be broken. Cake may be stored at room temperature for one day before serving.
To unmold and serve: Detach cake from the pan by sliding a small knife around the perimeter. Release the spring; remove the pan sides. Leave cake on the bottom of the pan and transfer it to a serving dish. Sieve powdered sugar very lightly over the top.
Apple Cranberry Crumble
Studded with sweet cranberries and aromatic baked apples, this classic crumble adds the flavors of fall to your Thanksgiving table and is filled with all the sweet things that you'll want to give thanks for.
- 4 cups (1 L) apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch (1-cm) chunks
- 2 cups (500 mL) fresh cranberries, halved
- 1/4 cup (50 mL) dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp. (45 mL) corn starch
- 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. (2 mL) cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease an 8- or 9-inch (20- or 23-cm) square baking dish (or any baking dish of a similar size).
- First, prepare the fruit mixture. In a bowl, toss together apples, fresh cranberries and dried cranberries. Add sugar and corn starch and toss to mix everything well. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
- Next, make the crumble topping. In another large bowl (or in a food processor), combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon, then cut butter into the mixture until it has a slightly sticky crumbly texture. Sprinkle over the apple cranberry mixture in the baking dish. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the fruit juices are bubbling and the topping is browned and crisp.
- Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
Servings: 6 to 8
A traditional trifle of berries, peaches and bananas, layered between slices of sponge cake, vanilla pudding and whipped cream, is sure to impress your guests and make a sensational centerpiece for your holiday sweet table.
- 1 recipe Golden Yellow Cake (or purchased pound cake or sponge cake)
- 6 cups (1.5 L) strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, bananas or any combination (fresh or frozen)
- 1/4 cup (50 mL) sugar
- 1 packet vanilla pudding mix, prepared
- 1/4 cup (50 mL) sherry or liqueur (any kind you like)
- 1 cup (250 mL) raspberry or apricot jam
- 2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream
- additional whole berries or fruit for decorating
- Cut the cake into slices (uneven or ragged is fine). Prepare whatever fruit you're using and cut into 1/2-inch (1-cm) pieces, if necessary. Place in a bowl and toss fruit with the sugar. Prepare the vanilla pudding. You'll need an attractive glass bowl, about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. Arrange about half of the cake pieces to cover the bottom of the bowl and sprinkle with about half of the sherry or liqueur. Spread cake pieces with half of the jam, then top with half of the fruit.
- Cover the fruit with half of the vanilla pudding, followed by half of the whipped cream. Repeat the layers: the remaining cake, sherry, jam, fruit and pudding.
- Finally, cover the top completely with the remaining whipped cream. Decorate with additional whole berries or fruit pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before serving.
This is a show-stopping festive dessert! Nestled between the layers of pecan-laden cake arevanilla, chocolate, and toffee-studded crème fraiche fillings.
Vanilla and Toffee Fillings:
- 2 cups pecans, toasted
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
Chocolate Filling and Frosting:
- 4 ounces white chocolate
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cups (8 ounces) crème fraiche
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup toffee bits
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 & 1/2 cups (12 ounces) crème fraiche
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Heat oven to 300 degrees. In mini-food processor fitted with steel blade, finely pulse pecans, flour, and half a cup of the sugar until pecans are finely ground. Transfer to large bowl.
- In large bowl, beat whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add in remaining half cup of sugar until blended.
- Stir one-third of the whites into the pecan mixture. In two additions, gently fold the whites into the pecan mixture.
- Pour into prepared pan and level the batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until middle springs back when gently touched and toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes, then turn out on cooling rack to cool completely. Cut crosswise into four equal parts.
Chocolate Filling and Frosting:
- In a medium-size bowl, microwave white chocolate and butter on high for one minute; sitr. If chocolate is not completely melted continue to heat in 30-second intervals until most of it is melted. The leftover heat in the mixture will melt the remaining chocolate; let cool. Stir in crème fraiche and sugar.
- Remove and reserve one cup of the plain white chocolate filling. Add the toffee to the remaining white chocolate filling.
1. In a medium-size bowl, microwave the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates, plus the butter on high for one minute; stir. If it is not completely melted continue to heat in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until most has melted. The leftover heat in the mixture will melt the remaining chocolate; let cool. Stir in crème fraiche and sugar.
Putting it Together:
1. Place one layer of the cake on a serving dish. Spread the plain white chocolate frosting on that layer, then top with second layer of cake. Spread second layer with 3/4 cup of the chocolate filling. Top with third layer of cake. Frost with remaining toffee-studded white chocolate filling. Top with last layer of cake. Frost cake with remaining chocolate frosting.
- Hazelnuts may be used in place of the pecans, but they need to be peeled after they are toasted.
- The cake can be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months, or refrigerated up to three days.
- Fillings can be made up to three days ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room, or spreading temperature before using.
- Store in the refrigerator, but let it come to room temperature before serving.
Preparation Time: About 35 minutes
Ready In: About 1 hour 15 minutes
Baking Time: 20-25 minutes
- Toasted nuts are always more flavorful than raw. Instead of toasting just the amount you need, toast the entire package and store the extra nuts in the freezer. Nuts can be toasted in a 350 degrees oven for about seven minutes, or until fragrant.
- To keep the surface of the serving dish clean slip one piece of waxed paper about one-inch under each of the sides of the cake. After frosting, carefully pull waxed paper out from under the cake, leaving the serving plate clean.
Carrot Cake Muffins with Cinnamon Glaze
- 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 3 carrots, grated
- 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 2 muffin pans, or use paper liners.
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, allspice and salt. Mix in brown sugar, white sugar and coconut. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, 1/2 cup buttermilk, carrots, pineapple, and vanilla. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the egg/buttermilk mixture. Mix until batter is moistened. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly tapped. Allow to cool.
- In a small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 to 3 tablespoons buttermilk. Mix until smooth, then refrigerate until thickened. Drizzle over cooled muffins.
Preparation Time: 15 min.
Cooking Time: 20 min.
Ready In: 35 min.
Traditional Christmas Cake
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces total) butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups each currants, golden raisins, dark raisins
1 1/3 cups soft dried figs, chopped
1 1/4 cups dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup chopped stoned dried prunes
1 3/4 cups chopped dried apricots
3/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped
2/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons brandy
2 teaspoons instant espresso, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
This rich cake can be made at the last minute before Christmas--it doesn't need to mature, although it keeps well, too.
Makes 30 servings.
Total time: 4 hours 45 minutes, plus cooling time.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Grease a round 9- or 10-inch cake pan, and line bottom and sides with several layers of waxed paper.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat the butter and sugar until thick and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour, salt, and spices, then fold into the creamed mixture. Add the fruit, almonds, 2/3 cup brandy, and espresso, folding in well.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, leveling the surface. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 275°F and bake for 3 1/2 hours longer or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove the pan from the oven, cover with first a kitchen towel and then a thick bath towel so that the cake will cool slowly.
When the cake is cool, prick the top with a skewer and drizzle with the extra brandy. Wrap in waxed paper and store in an airtight container. Keep in a cool place for up to 3 months.