Sweet (but small) Endings


Sometimes less really is more, like when family and friends gather ‘round the holiday table and the event turns into a feast. Finishing off all that food with a heavy cake or pie seems too much…yet the thought of a little something sweet beckons. Perhaps then, one (or two) decadent nibbles might be the “less” that is more.

This holiday season try one of the following recipes for “bitty bites” to round out your repast. Replete with dark chocolate and cream cheese, warmly spiced pecans, cashews and almonds, the zing of cherries balanced with a hint of coffee or the tangy-sweetness of cranberry and orange blended with rich hazelnuts, these miniature desserts may be just what your sweet tooth desires.



Cranberry Orange Squares*

cranberry-orange-squaresA luxuriant hazelnut crust, tart cranberry filling and sweet crumb topping make these squares IRRESISTIBLE!

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 tsp. each baking soda and salt
1 egg yolk, beaten

2 cups cranberries, thawed if frozen
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/ 2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/3 cup each all-purpose flour and packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

For crust: combine flour, hazelnuts and sugar in a food processer; process until nuts are ground. Add butter, baking soda, salt and egg yolk; pulsing the speed, process until moist crumbs form. Press evenly into a greased 8” square pan. Bake at 350° F for 20–25 minutes or until golden around the edges. Remove when done, then increase oven temperature to 375° F.

Prepare filling: combine the five filling ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thickened, about five minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Prepare topping: combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon then cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in hazelnuts.

Assembly: Spread filling over pre-baked crust. Sprinkle topping evenly over. Bake 15–20 minutes at 375° F until top is golden and filling is bubbly. Cool completely in pan on rack. Cut into squares.

* Reprinted with permission from “Bake Something Great!” by Jill Snider, Robert Rose, 2011. (Packed with over 400 enticing recipes – awesome!)


Cherry Mocha Balls

cherry-mocha-ballsFor chocolate with the insinuation of coffee, food editor Margo Stich created this recipe with the java lover in mind.

1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups less 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbsp. instant coffee powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup finely chopped nuts
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
Confectioners sugar

Cream butter. Gradually add sugar and vanilla until incorporated. Combine flour, cocoa, coffee and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Blend in nuts and cherries. Chill dough two hours for ease of handling. Roll dough into 1” balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° F for 12–14 minutes. Remove to wire rack. While warm, dust cookies with confectioners sugar, if desired. Makes 32-34 cookies.


Rocky Road Bars*

rocky-road-barsWith cream cheese enveloped by decadent dark, sweet chocolate, these bars offer a delightful texture and flavorful contrast. One bite might be all you need!

First layer:
1 cup butter or margarine
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 cups granulated sugar (can reduce by 1/4 cup)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup nuts, chopped (tested here using walnuts–delightful!)

Grease and flour two 9×13-inch baking pans. In a large saucepan, over LOW heat, melt the butter and chocolate. Add the remaining ingredients; mix well. Spread batter in pans.

Second layer:
12 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
12 oz. (2 cups) chocolate chips
4 cups mini-marshmallows

Combine the cream cheese with the next five ingredients. Blend until fluffy. Spread over the first layer (i.e., chocolate batter in the pan). Sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Bake at 350° F for 25–35 minutes, until tests done with a toothpick. Sprinkle with mini-marshmallows. Bake two minutes longer.

1/2 cup butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup milk
6 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Melt the butter, chocolate and milk together in a pan over LOW heat. Once smooth, remove from heat; add powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour IMMEDIATELY over the marshmallow layer; swirl together. Store in the refrigerator until serving time. Makes 72 bars.

*From “Feed Many 4 Fun! 4 Profit!” by local author Beth Rentz. For more information, visit feedmany.com. Note: recipe here is half that in the cookbook.

Sugar Spiced Nuts


This recipe is a holiday favorite for Rochester Women publisher Jorrie Johnson’s family. Consider preparing a batch of these spiced-sweet nuts and presenting them in decorative paper cones or a glass jar tied with a ribbon for take-home enjoyment.

1 egg white
1 tsp. water
5 cups nuts (desired combination of raw almonds, pecans and cashews)
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

Grease a 15x10x1–inch baking pan. Set pan aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg white and water until frothy. Add the nuts and toss to coat. Combine sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Sprinkle over nuts; toss to coat. Spread nuts in a single later in the prepared baking pan. Bake at 325° F for 20 minutes. Cool slightly in pan. Transfer to waxed paper to cool. Break into clusters. Store tightly covered up to one week. Makes eight cups.