Friday, November 7, 2008

Baking for the Holidays

How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child's personality...thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people. ~Sir John Templeton

I love baking cookies and breads for the holidays. I try new recipes each year, as well as old favorites. Today I have a few to start us off this season.

Praline Apple Bread

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light sour cream
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cup all-purpose or bread flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled apple
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cream together the sugar, sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Sift and add to the cream mixture the flour, baking powder,soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the apples and pecans. Mix well. Pour batter into a well-buttered 9x5 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 60 minutes. When done, pour over the topping and return to the oven for 5 minutes. This is fairly messy (but worth it) so place the pan on a foil lined cookie pan. When you remove it (by removing the cookie sheet with pan still on it) take a butter knife and loosen each side
of the loaf so the topping goes down the sides of the loaf. Cool and then remove from the pan. If you are giving this as a gift, wrap it in foil, then wrap in colored plastic wrap.

Topping: Add the sugar, cinnamon and milk to the melted butter in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the pecan, stir and turn off the heat. Pour over the baked bread as is directed in the recipe.

Lemon Cookies

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup dried blueberries, cherries or cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer. Beat in the yolks and lemon peel. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl or container. Gradually add this mixture to the creamed ingredients until it's crumb-like in texture. Stir in the fruit you've chosen with a wooden spoon. Divide the dough in half and knead each half to where it will hold together. Divide each half into 16 balls. Place the balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Use the back of a glass dipped in granulated sugar to flatten each ball until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes until they are very lightly browned around the edges. Makes 32 cookies.

I've thought about how I could make these lighter and the only possibility is using low fat graham crackers and light butter. Beyond that they are what they are-VERY yummy and fattening!

Coconut Chocolate Bars

2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 package flaked coconut (7 ounces)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (the regular size)
1 bag-- 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional: whole almonds

Mix the crackers, sugar and butter. Press into a well-buttered 9x13 baking pan. Sprinkle the coconut over the crust. Pour the condensed milk over the coconut. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven. On very low heat melt the chocolate chips in a small pan. Spread over the top of the bars while they are still warm. Optional: Place a whole almond on each bar while the chocolate is still warm. Decide what size you want to make the bars and place the almond in what would be the center of each bar. I usually make them small squares since they are so rich. Cool,then cut.

MORE RECIPES: Favorite cookie recipes for the cookie jar!

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