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Tired of the same old holiday recipes? Want to try something new and adventurous? All of these recipes have drawn raves from the satisfied people I've served them to. And for a fun social event that can yield you dozens of cookies for the price of cooking one batch, click here and learn how to host your own cookie exchange!


FRUIT & NUT CLUSTERS
This recipe is from a book called 'Celebrating Christmas' by Pamela Westland. I just have to share it with you because they make wonderful, hardy gifts. People always ask for the recipes so be sure to make a copy for the recipient of this tasty candy.

Ingredients

8 oz. white chocolate, broken into pieces
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup almond slivers
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup seedless raisins
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions

Put the chocolate into a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Do not allow the water to touch the base of the bowl, or the chocolate may become too hot. Or you can put the chocolate in a microwave-proof container and heat it on Medium for 3 minutes. Stir the melted chocolate until it is smooth and glossy.

Mix all the other ingredients together, pour on the chocolate and mix well.

Using two teaspoons, spoon the mixture into paper cases and leave to set. Store in an airtight tin. Makes about 24 clusters.


CITRUS SPICE BARS
Another favorite from 'Celebrating Christmas' by Pamela Westland. These bars are beautiful when garnished with Christmas greenery and fresh cranberries.

Ingredients

3/4 cup chopped, candied orange peel
1/3 cup seedless raisins
5 tbs rum
1/4 cup clear honey
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg or egg replacer
1 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Large pinch of baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup chopped unblanched almonds
butter for greasing

Icing

1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp orange juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 400oF. Place the orange peel, rum, and raisins in a bowl, cover and set aside for 1 hour.

Place the honey and molasses in a pan and bring to a boil. Set aside to cool, then beat in the egg. Mix together the ground almonds, flour, baking powder, soda, and spices and stir into the mixture. Stir in the chopped almonds and rum mixture and form into a dough.

Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan and press in the dough. Bake for about 20 minutes. Cool.

Place the powdered sugar in a bowl and stir in just enough orange juice to make a spreading consistency. Set aside for 1 hour.

Spread the icing over the cake and cut into bars. Makes 50 bars.


SEVEN LAYER SQUARES
Okay--we admit--these may not be that unique, but they disappear quicker than just about anything so we have to include them!

Ingredients

1/4 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup pecans
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350oF. Melt margarine in 9x13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over margarine. Layer chocolate chips, coconut, butterscotch chips and pecans, in that order.

Pour condensed milk evenly over top of layers. Bake 30-35 minutes. While still warm, cut into squares. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 3 dozen.


SOUTHERN MINT BROWNIES
In the South, everything goes better with mint...these are a delicious twist on a time-tested favorite. Be sure to garnish with sprigs of fresh mint!

Ingredients

1 package deluxe fudge cake mix
1 8 oz. carton low fat vanilla yogurt
1 egg, beaten slightly
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup mint chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350oF. In large bowl, combine dry cake mix, yogurt, and egg. Mix well until blended. Stir in nuts.

Pour batter into greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with mint chocolate chips. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into small squares. Makes 3-4 dozen.


PEPPERMINT BARK
A classic that we couldn't help sharing. After all, these just TASTE like Christmas!

Ingredients

1 lb. white almond bark or white melts
3/4 cup chopped peppermint sticks
2-3 drops peppermint oil

Directions

Melt bark in double broiler or microwave. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. When chocolate is melted, add crushed peppermint and oil. Stir until evenly until mixed. Pour out onto wax paper. When set, break into pieces.

Note: If you purchase the red and green pre-crushed peppermint that some candy/cake supply stores sell, do not use the peppermint oil.

 


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