Snowy sweet Christmas desserts

Michele Borboa, MS

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Christmas is a festive time of year when we pull out our most impressive and decadent desserts. As the jolly holiday approaches, we'll spend hours in the kitchen baking dozens of cookies and cookie bars, cakes, pies, candies and other creative confections that are proudly reserved for special occasions. Sandra Lee, host of Food Network's Money-Saving Meals and author of the Semi-homemade cookbook series, gives us a few more stunning Christmas desserts that mirror the winter snow.

Christmas cupcake

Give your desserts a snowy touch

Look outside this time of year and you'll see soft, velvety snow flakes falling into blankets of white on the ground. It's easy to be inspired to create Christmas desserts covered in sweet white frosting and glazes or fluffy whipped cream. The season's snowfalls certainly inspired Sandra Lee with her latest collection of Christmas confections. "These dazzling desserts are all drizzled, dusted, glazed, sprinkled, or dipped in something sweet and white," says the semi-homemade maven. "Whether or not your town enjoys a wintertime snowfall, you can bring a frosty touch to your holiday table with one of these clever recipes."

Chocolate-caramel soufflé cakes

Makes 6 cakes An impressive presentation, chocolate souffles baked in coffee mugs are winning rivals of the expected hot chocolate topped with whipped cream. Caramel gives this dessert an extra dimension of lusciousness.

Ingredients

  • 6 (12-ounce) oven-safe coffee mugs
  • 1 (125-ounce) jar caramel-flavored topping, Smucker's
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 6 metal paper clips
  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box chocolate cake mix, Duncan Hines
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Frozen nondairy whipped topping, thawed (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut 6 (4-inch-wide) strips of parchment paper long enough to fit inside mugs, allowing a 1-inch overlap.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together caramel topping and eggs. Add chopped pecans, whisking well to combine. Spoon caramel mixture evenly into bottom of mugs (about 5 tablespoons each).
  3. Fit parchment paper strips inside mugs, allowing strips to extend 3 inches above rim to form a collar. Secure tops of collars with paper clips.
  4. Prepare cake mix according to package instructions. Spoon cake batter evenly into mugs over caramel mixture.
  5. Place mugs on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand for 20 minutes to cool. Remove paper collar. Dust cakes with confectioners' sugar, or top with whipped topping, if desired.

Sandra Lee Semi-homemadeSnowy yule log

Makes 1 log What's Christmas without a delectable spiral of tender cake and sweet, creamy filling! As beautiful as it is delicious, this snowy white confection will easily garner awes and requests for seconds.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 (16-ounce) box angel food cake mix, Betty Crocker
  • 1 (3-ounce) package instant white chocolate pudding mix, Jell-O
  • 1 cup cold whole milk
  • 1 cup frozen nondairy whipped topping, thawed, Cool Whip
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • 8 ounces vanilla-flavored candy coating

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed 15x10-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar evenly over a clean kitchen towel.
  2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  3. Loosen edges of cake from pan, if necessary. Invert warm cake onto prepared towel. Carefully remove and discard parchment paper. Starting at 1 long side, roll up cake and towel together and let cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix and cold milk, whisking well. Cover, and refrigerate until set. Fold in 1 cup whipped topping.
  5. Unroll cake, and remove towel. Spread filling over cake, and reroll, ending seam-side down. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. Transfer to a serving platter, seam-side down, and sift desired amount of confectioners' sugar over the top before serving.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt candy coating according to package directions, whisking until smooth. Spoon into a large heavy-duty plastic bag. (Do not seal.) Snip 1 corner of bag with scissors to make a small hole.
  8. Pipe candy coating into branchlike designs on parchment paper. Cool completely. Arrange on yule log in desired pattern.

Ornament cake bites

Makes about 2-1⁄2 dozen

These yummy cake bites are almost too ornate to eat -- almost! Though this dessert requires more time and effort than simply baking and frosting a cake, you'll be quite proud of yourself when you set down a platter of pretty edible ornaments.

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box butter pecan cake mix, Betty Crocker
  • 1 cup ground toasted pecans (about 1-1/2 cups pecan halves)
  • 1 (16-ounce) container vanilla frosting, Pillsbury
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum extract 2 (16-ounce) packages vanilla-flavored candy coating
  • 1 (100-milliliter) can pearl edible lustre spray, PME Arts & Crafts
  • 18 clear gumdrops, cut in half crosswise
  • 36 wooden picks
  • Narrow ribbon strips (optional)

Directions

  1. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Stir ground pecans into prepared batter. Bake and cool according to package directions. Crumble into small pieces.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine frosting and rum extract. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer for 1 to 2 minutes, or until combined. Stir into crumbled cake.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Form cake mixture into 36 even pieces. Place on prepared baking sheets and refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll mixture into balls, return to pans, and freeze for 1 hour.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt candy coating according to package directions; whisk until smooth. Dip frozen cake balls into candy coating, allowing excess coating to drip off. Place on prepared baking sheet, and let stand at room temperature to set.
  5. Spray balls with edible lustre spray. Place a gumdrop half, narrow side up, on top of each cake bite. Skewer with wooden picks. Tie ribbon around wooden picks, if desired.

Note: To toast pecans, arrange pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 6 to 8 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned, stirring once. Let cool.

Recipes reprinted with permission by Hoffman Media, LLC. www.semihomemademag.com

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Michele Borboa, MS
Michele Borboa, MS is a contributing editor for SheKnows.com specializing in health, fitness, and all things food. She is a veteran health and fitness professional, personal chef, and mom in Bozeman, Montana. She is also the author of the time-saving cookbook Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy (Fair Winds Press, July 2011). You can contact Michele at michele.borboa@sheknows.com or give her a tweet at http://twitter.com/micheleeborboa.

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