Northwest NEWS

December 2, 2002

Home & Garden

Baking spirits bright!

Starting your baking early in the holiday season allows you time to savor the traditions that are most important to you. Sometimes the most treasured present you give is the gift of your time.
   Cookies are one of the easiest baking activities that families can do together to express their creativity. Whether cookies are made to give as holiday gifts or to fill your own cookie jar, the results are sure to be pleasing. Making Holiday Poppers is another family fun activity - and a great solution for the empty rolls of gift-wrap and bits and pieces of leftover tissue paper and ribbon. Poppers can be used either as treats for school parties or at each place setting at a table. Fill each popper with your favorite chocolate treats.
   The recipes below will provide you with lots of family fun without spending hours in the kitchen. Having the pantry filled with holiday baking needs such as cookie/brownie mixes, frostings and holiday chocolate candies will also allow you to bake on a moment's notice.

Santa's Surprise
Peanut Butter Drippers
Holiday Poppers
Layered Brownies
  

Santa's Surprises


photo courtesy of Family Features

2 sticks butter (softened)
   1 c. creamy peanut butter
   1 c. light brown sugar
   1 c. sugar
   2 eggs
   1 tsp. vanilla
   3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (sifted)
   1/2 tsp. salt
   1 tsp. baking soda
   1 bag Snickers Miniatures
   Powdered Sugar
   1 bag Dove Milk or Dark Chocolate Gifts, optional
   Combine butter, peanut butter and sugars using a mixer on medium to low speed until light and fluffy.
   Slowly add eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Then mix in flour, salt and baking soda.
   Cover and chill dough for 2 to 3 hours. Unwrap each Miniature. Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide into 1 tablespoon pieces and flatten.
   Place one Miniature in the center of each piece of dough.
   Form dough into a ball around each Miniature.
   Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325F for 10 to 12 minutes. (Baking time and temperature may need to be adjusted if using more than 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie.)
   Let cookies cool on baking rack or waxed paper. Sift powdered sugar on top of cookies.
   (Holiday Hint: Spruce up Santa's surprise by drizzling melted Milk or Dark Chocolate Gifts over top of each cookie. Recipe can also be made with 1 batch prepared peanut butter cookie dough.)
   Makes 2 dozen cookies

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Peanut Butter Dippers


photo courtesy of Family Features

1 batch prepared peanut butter cookie dough
Assorted holiday cookie cutters
2 bags Dove milk or dark chocolate gifts
1 1/2 feet waxed paper
1 bag M&M's milk chocolate holiday candies
Prepare cookie dough according to package or favorite recipe directions.
On a generously floured surface, roll dough to 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness.
Using assorted holiday cookie cutters, cut out shapes; place on nonstick baking sheet and bake according to recipe directions.
Cool cookies on baking rack or waxed paper.
Unwrap chocolate Gifts into a microwave-safe bowl; melt in microwave for 90 seconds, stirring occasionally until smooth.
Dip cookies in melted chocolate and place on waxed paper.
Decorate with milk chocolate candies.
Let chocolate set before eating these holiday treats!
Makes 2 dozen cookies.

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Holiday Poppers


photo courtesy of Family Features

2 sheets red tissue paper, 16 x 27 inches
   2 sheets green tissue paper, 16 x 27 inches
   Assorted holiday ribbons
   8 5-inch paper tubes (gift-wrap tubes cut in 6-inch lengths or paper towel tubes in half)
   Selection of: Dove Milk or Dark Chocolate Gifts, Snickers, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers and Twix Miniatures
   Cut tissue paper in half, lengthwise. Cut 8 strands of each color ribbon, 15 inches long. Fill tubes with selection of Milk or Dark Chocolate Gifts and assorted Miniatures.
   Lay one sheet of tissue paper flat on a surface. Place tube at one edge and roll paper tightly around tube. Tie ribbon tightly at both ends of tube.
   (Holiday Hint: Once all tubes are wrapped and tied, link them together by placing alternating color tubes end to end and tying them with assorted holiday ribbons.)
   Makes 8 poppers

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Layered Brownies


photo courtesy of Family Features

1 box brownie mix (for 13- x 9-inch baking pan)
1 bag (14-ounce) M&M's milk chocolate holiday candies
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
2/3 c. sugar
1 c. heavy cream
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. whipped cream, optional
Preheat oven to 350F.
Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.
Spoon batter into 13- x 9-inch baking pan, spreading evenly.
Cover batter with 1 c. Milk Chocolate Candies.
Thoroughly beat cream cheese with sugar. Slowly add heavy cream, eggs and vanilla extract. Blend mixture until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl several times.
Evenly spoon cream cheese mixture over brownie batter.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of pan comes out almost clean. Remove and cool completely. Cut into 2-inch squares. Just before serving top with layer of whipped cream, if desired, and decorate with Milk Chocolate Candies for the Holidays. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Makes 24 brownies.

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