Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Leader Enterprise Article - December 2009

This is a decadent dessert and beautiful presentation. You can use lite pie filling, sugar free pudding, reduced fat cream cheese, and lite whipped topping.  Just remember when using sugar free or light-the results will be softer set,  but very tasty - most won’t even know.  And with all the sweets we devour this month,  cutting calories is always a good idea when possible.


BLACK FOREST TRIFLE

1 18-21 oz. Box brownie mix
2 (1.55 ozs ea) milk chocolate candy bars, divided
3 cups cherry pie filling
1 tsp. Almond extract
2 cups milk
2 small pkgs. White chocolate instant pudding mix
1 - 8 oz. Pkg. Cream cheese, softened
1 - 8 oz. Tub frozen whipped topping, thawed

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare brownie mix according to package directions for cake-like brownies; spread batter over bottom of greased jelly roll pan. Bake 18-20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely.  Loosen brownie from sides of pan and invert onto cutting board.  Cut brownie into 1-inch cubes;set aside.  Chop 1-1/2 of the chocolate bars.  Reserve remaining chocolate for garnish.

In medium bowl, combine pie filling and almond extract.  Set aside ½ cup for garnish.  In another medium bowl, pour milk and add pudding mix and beat until mixture begins to thicken.  Add softened cream cheese, in chunks, and blend until smooth.  Fold in whipped topping.  To assemble trifle, place half the brownie cubes in the bottom of a trifle bowl.  Layer with half the pie filling mixture; sprinkle with half the chopped chocolate; top with half the pudding mixture, then repeat layers one more time.  Make chocolate curls with reserved chocolate (using your potato peeler).  Garnish top of trifle with reserved pie filling mixture and chocolate curls.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.  The trifle can be assembled several hours before serving, or the day before.

I’m pleased to say I chose my favorite parts from 3 different recipes, and ‘tweaked’ the spices to come up with this delicious dessert. It’s very pretty too.

PUMPKIN TOFFEE CHEESECAKE

Crust:
1-1/2 cups shortbread cookies, crushed
½ (one half) cup finely chopped pecans
3 Tbsp. Butter or margarine,melted

Cheesecake:
3-8 ozs. Pkgs. Cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1-15 oz.  canned pumpkin
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1 tsp. Ground cinnamon
½ tsp. Pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. Ground cloves
1 cup crushed toffee candies

Topping:
1-1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
caramel ice cream topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For Crust: combine cookie crumbs,nuts and butter in small bowl. Press onto bottom and 1-inch up side of 9-inch springform pan.  Bake 7-8 minutes (do not allow to brown).  Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

For Cheesecake: Beat cream cheese and sugars in a large bowl until creamy.  Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, cornstarch and spices; beat well.  Pour into crust. Bake 55-60 minutes or until edge is set,but center still moves slightly. Remove from oven; top with toffee candy pieces.

For Topping:  Combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla in small bowl; mix well.  Spread over warm cheesecake.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Remove side of springform pan.   Drizzle with caramel ice cream topping just before serving.  Refrigerate leftovers.

I decided on Cranberry Pecan Pie Bars for several reasons.  They make a small panful for those not wanting a large dessert, and they are so versatile.  The cranberries and orange peel cut the sweetness of the dish. For another variation, make them without the berries and orange peel - or substitute brown sugar for the white, add chocolate chips instead of the coconut or double the amounts to bake in a 9" X 13" pan, for several minutes longer. I also sprinkled a few extra chopped pecans to the top before baking.  Make them according to your family’s favorite tastes.

CRANBERRY PECAN PIE BARS

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. cold butter

FILLING:

3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries,chopped
1/2 cup flaked coconut
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1-1/2 tsp. grated orange peel

In a large bowl, combine the flour, pecans, brown sugar and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly.  Press into a greased 9-inch square baking dish. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the eggs, corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, and flour.  Fold in the cranberries, coconut, pecans and orange peel.  Pour over crust.  Bake 25-30 minutes longer or until set.  Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Yield:12-15 servings.