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Christmas: It’s all about those delicious sweet treats for sharing with family and friends

 

recipie December

The Christmas season is the time to satisfy everyone's sweet tooth with cookes, cakes and other irresistable goodies. (Photo provided)

 

by Annette Kukoy and Jackie Shayotovich

 

            A frosty milk punch, a spectacular cake that’s easy to make and a variety of thumbprint cookies will make your holiday gatherings extra special. Thanks to Wendy Somers for her punch recipe and Peggy Keney for the cookie recipes.

 

Holiday  Milk Punch

 

3/4 cup dark rum

1/2 cup brandy

1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup granulated sugar

6 cups whole milk

Ground nutmeg

Cinnamon sticks

 

            Combine the rum, brandy, and vanilla in a large pitcher and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Stir in the milk. Freeze mixture until very cold, or even slushy - at least four hours. To serve, pour into glasses, sprinkle with nutmeg and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

 

 

 Shortbread Thumbprints

 

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups flour

With raspberry filling:

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

Icing:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon milk

 

            Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper. In medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth; mix in almond extract. Add the flour and mix until the dough comes together. Using a teaspoon or cookie scoop, form into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on cookie sheets. Make a small indentation in the center of each ball using the back of a spoon. Fill with the preserves. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cookies cool for one minute on the cookie sheet. Combine the icing ingredients and mix until smooth. Drizzle lightly over the warm cookies.

            To make chocolate or Dulce de Leche filled thumbprints, follow recipe above for shortbread dough and bake the cookies before adding the filling.

            For a chocolate filling, combine two oz. semi-sweet chocolate, two tablespoons butter and 3/4 teaspoon corn syrup in a small heat-proof bowl. Set over a pot of simmering water; stir occasionally until melted. Allow to cool slightly. When the cookies are cool, fill the thumbprint indentations with the chocolate mixture.

            Dulce de Leche can be found in the baking aisle by the sweetened condensed milk. Add about one teaspoon in each thumbprint while the cookies are still warm. (Don’t use caramel sauce as it’s too thin.)

 

 

Pandoro Christmas Tree

 

            1 Pandoro cake (26.4 oz.) You can find these Italian cakes in many grocery stores, Italian markets, or discount stores during the holidays.

            Cut the cake into slices and layer with whipped cream, custard, mascarpone or cream cheese filling. You can also brush each slice with Amaretto, Limoncello or brandy before adding filling.

            For our filling, we used eight oz. cream cheese, three cups of Cool Whip, and one cup confectioners’ sugar. Whipped together until smooth.

            Place the cake on its side and using a sharp knife, cut into one-inch slices, leaving the bottom slice slightly thicker that the others. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate; spread a layer of filling in the center. Place the next layer on top, making sure it is off center, so that you start forming the shape of a Christmas tree. Spread the filling on this layer and place the next layer on top. Repeat until you top off the cake with the final slice. Fill

            Fill a pastry bag with the remaining filling and squeeze small amounts onto each star peak of the Christmas tree, as well as the center of the top layer. Decorate the cake with fruits or candies, and then lightly sift confectioners’ sugar over the cake.

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