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Six heavenly holiday sweets

Written by Healthy Living News. Posted in December

Sweet treats are part of every family’s holiday tradition. Time-tested recipes for delicious confections of all kinds are handed down from one generation to the next and lovingly prepared every holiday season—with the occasional individual touch added along the way. Perhaps one of the following heavenly holiday sweets will find its way into your family’s traditional repertoire.

 

These recipes may not be low in calories, but then the occasional dietary indulgence around the holidays is good for the spirits. Enjoy these treats in moderation.

Peppermint bark

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 tsp. vegetable oil

6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/3 to 1/2 cup crushed candy canes

Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, smoothing out any wrinkles.

Melt the semisweet chocolate and 1 tsp. of vegetable oil in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Immediately pour the melted chocolate into the prepared pan and tilt the pan so the chocolate makes an even layer. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate has set.

Melt the white chocolate and remaining 1 tsp. of vegetable oil in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Immediately pour the melted white chocolate over the dark chocolate and tilt the pan so the chocolate is in an even layer. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes evenly over the white chocolate. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate has set.

Remove the peppermint bark from the pan by lifting the edges of the aluminum foil. Peel back the foil and break the bark into small, irregular pieces. Makes about 25 pieces.

Peanut brittle

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup water

1 cup peanuts

2 Tbs. butter, softened

1 tsp. baking soda

Grease a large cookie sheet. Set aside. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in peanuts. Set candy thermometer in place and continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300°F or until a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water separates into hard and brittle threads.

Remove from heat; immediately stir in butter or margarine and baking soda; pour at once onto cookie sheet. With 2 forks, lift and pull peanut mixture into rectangle about 14x12 inches; cool. Break candy into pieces.

Marzipan pralines

14 ounces marzipan (a prepared almond paste available in many specialty stores)

1/3 cup powdered sugar

2 to 3 shot glasses of kirschwasser (a brandy made from fermented cherry juice)

40 sour cherries, drained

14 ounces dark chocolate

40 walnut halves

Drain the sour cherries, and soak them in kirschwasser for 24 hours. Mix the marzipan with the powdered sugar and knead into a pliable dough. On a surface covered with powdered sugar, roll out a sheet roughly 1/2- to 1/4-inch thick.

Remove the cherries from the Kirschwasser and drain. Cover each cherry with a circle cut from the marzipan sheet, creating a neat ball.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Dip each cherry-marzipan ball into the chocolate and place on a cookie rack. While the chocolate is still soft, press a walnut half onto each ball. Allow to harden in the refrigerator. Makes 40 candies.

Chocolate raspberry truffles

1 can (14-ounce size) sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup raspberry liqueur

2 Tbs. butter or margarine

2 Tbs. seedless raspberry jam

2 packages (12-ounce size) semisweet chocolate morsels

1/2 cup confectioners sugar OR 1/2 cup crushed almonds, toasted

Microwave first 4 ingredients in a large microwave-safe bowl at high for 3 minutes. Stir in chocolate morsels until smooth. Cover and chill 1 hour. Shape mixture by tablespoonfuls into balls, and roll in confectioners sugar or almonds. Makes 4 dozen.

Turtle brownies

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

3/4 cup butter or margarine

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup flour

14 ounces caramels

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 cups pecans or walnuts, divided

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Set oven to 350°F. Grease foil-lined 13” x 9” baking pan. Microwave chocolate squares and butter in microwavable bowl on high until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir sugar into chocolate until well blended. Mix in eggs. Stir in flour. Spread 1/2 of batter in prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes or until batter is firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, microwave caramels and cream in microwavable bowl on high 3 minutes or until caramels begin to melt. Whisk until smooth. Stir in 1 cup nuts. Gently spread caramel mixture over brownie batter in pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips if desired.

Pour remaining unbaked brownie batter evenly over caramel mixture; sprinkle with remaining nuts. (Some caramel mixture may leak through.) Bake 30 minutes. Cool in pan.

Run knife around edge of pan to loosen brownies from sides. Lift from pan using foil as handles. Cut into bars. Makes 24.

Almond macaroons

2 cups unpeeled almonds

1-2/3 cups powdered sugar

5 egg whites

90 round baking wafers (available in specialty food stores)

Preheat the oven to 275° F. Place the almonds in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for about 3 minutes. Remove almond skins. Place the almonds in a blender and grind to a semi-course consistency. Add sugar and blend again. Beat egg whites and combine with almond-sugar mixture.

Place baking wafers on a cookie sheet. Using a wet teaspoon, put a small amount of mixture onto each wafer. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the mixture has become crisp and dry. Do not let the cookies brown. Remove and allow the cookies to cool on a rack.❦