Friday, December 8, 2017

Cranberry Christmas Tarts


I've been working on building up my recipe collection of healthy dessert recipes and this recipe is my latest favorite.  These creamy, delicious tarts are a wonderful, "guilt-free" treat, perfect for the holidays. They are a  lightly sweet, nutty, rich, orangey, ice creamy, cookie doughy, loaded with nuts and fruit, wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, free serving of deliciousness. You can garnish them with any fruit, but Kiwi looks especially pretty with the Cranberry during Christmas time, which is why I used them. 




  Cranberry Christmas Tarts


Place cashews, dates and flaxseed into a food processor or blender (if you are using a blender do this in smaller batches a little at a time).



Grind ingredients together, and pour into a bowl; the ingredients will cling together and form a sticky dough.



Pinch a small amount of dough and press into the bottom of each tart pan to form a crust.



In a clean food processor or blender, put all the  "Creamy layer" ingredients and blend the ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Spoon the blended ingredients onto the crust in the tart pans.
















Cashews and Green Bananas  create the creamy base in this recipe and provide a low glycemic, dessert with a boost of fiber, resistant starch and protein. The green bananas have very little flavor, but complement the flavors added, and are a wonderful form of fiber, and resistant starch that will stifle the sugar cravings. So your eyes didn't deceive you when you skimmed the ingredient list, and saw "green" bananas; they are what you want for this recipe.

 Cranberry Christmas Tarts

Ingredients:

Crust
2 cups organic nuts of choice, such as walnuts, pecans, almonds or hazelnuts (Presoaked if desired), (You can also lightly roast them if you desire... which I did)
2 cups whole pitted dates
1/4 cup flax meal

For Creamy Layer
3 green bananas
2 1/2 cups cashews (presoaked)
2 teaspoons vanilla
6-8 drops orange essential oils
Juice from 1 medium orange
1/3 - 1/2 cup maple syrup, coconut syrup or honey (adjust to taste)
Orange zest from one orange (reserve 1 teaspoon for the Cranberry Topping)

For Cranberry Topping
1 bag fresh organic cranberries (reserve a small handful for garnish)
1/4 cup water or orange juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
6-8  drops orange essential oil
1 teaspoon orange zest

Optional Garnish
Sugared cranberries, (these can be removed before eating... they are for pretty value only).
Sliced Kiwis 
Mandarin orange segments
Sliced fruit of choice


Instructions:

  1. Prepare tart pans (muffin tins make wonderful mini tarts) by spraying with cooking spray.  
  2. Place cashews, dates and flaxseed into a food processor or blender (if you are using a blender do this in smaller batches a little at a time). Grind ingredients together, and pour into a bowl; the ingredients will cling together and form a sticky dough.
  3. Pinch a small amount of dough and press into the bottom of each tart pan to form a crust.
  4. In a clean food processor or blender, put all the "Creamy layer"ingredients and blend the ingredients together until smooth and creamy.
  5. Spoon the blended ingredients for the creamy layer onto the crust in the tart pans.
  6. Place Tart pans into the freezer.
  7. Make a Cranberry Sauce topping as follows: Combine topping ingredients into a sauce pan.Turn to medium heat and and bring to a light boil. Stir and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken.
  8. Allow the topping mixture to completely cool.
  9. Once cool, spoon the mixture evenly over each tart.
  10. Return tarts to the freezer.
To Serve:
Remove tarts from the freezer and allow to sit at room temperature 30-60 minutes.  Garnish with fruit and serve.








Enjoy!!!













Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Best Little Pumpkin Dessert




Creamy delicious layers of cream cheese, and pumpkin pudding, mingled with sprinkles of crushed gingerbread cookies, on top of a delicious shortbread crust and just in time for Thanksgiving.  This wonderful pumpkin dessert is another delicious variation on that well loved classic; "Better than Robert Redford Dessert", which actually goes by a variety of names from the very boring  "layered dessert",  to names that will make you blush.   But if you've ever tasted this dessert in any of of variations, and under any of its various names,  you will be sure of one thing it really is one of the best desserts. This week, as I was mulling over dessert ideas for Thanksgiving, this dessert favorite came to my mind and I thought "why not a pumpkin variation of the dessert"? So here it is; a delicious, rich, creamy, pumpkiny, better than Pumpkin Pie, and better Robert Redford, dessert.






I decided to make these in little jars, this time, for a fun presentation, and to delight my grandson, who is the official taste tester on hand this time around; but the recipe will work fine in a 9 X 13 cake pan, or two Pie Pans.  If you use the jars, use heat safe half pints or smaller, as anything bigger is more difficult to layer nicely, and since this is such a rich dessert, a little goes a long way.


Ingredients

Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I use Einkorn flour)
  • 3/4  cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
Cream Cheese layer
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup organic powdered sugar

  • ½ of an 8 ounce container whipped topping (I use Truwhip, which is a healthier version        of Cool  Whip,  and can be found in the freezer section of your local health food store).

  • 1/2  cup finely crushed Gingerbread or Gingersnap cookies
Pumpkin layer
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 3 small packages (3.4 ounces each) vanilla instant pudding mix I use an organic brand.        Jello brand, also now makes a "natural" version of their puddings and gelatin                  mixes, which contain no artificial ingredients, colors or preservatives.
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed Gingerbread or Gingersnap cookies
Topping
  • remaining ½ container whipped topping
  • remaining crushed Gingerbread or Gingersnap cookies


Instructions


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Combine flour, butter, and nuts; mix and stir until the mixture is well combined and crumbly.
  3. Measure 2 heaping tablespoons into 14 -16  1/2 pint canning jars, or  1 9x13 dish baking dish if you wish to make the dessert in one big pan.
  4.  Bake for 15 minutes.
  5.  Let cool completely.
  6. While the crust is baking and cooling, place  cream cheese and powdered sugar in a bowl and mix until well combined. Add ½ container of whipped topping and fold in until evenly distributed.
  7.  In a separate bowl,  mix milk and vanilla instant pudding,  until it begins to thicken. Add pumpkin puree and cinnamon and mix until well combined. 
  8. Once the crust has cooled completely, begin adding layers of filling. Start by spreading a layer of the cream cheese mixture. Top with a thin layer of Gingerbread crumbs, add the pumpkin layer, then another layer of Gingerbread crumbs. Finish with a layer of whipped topping.  Sprinkle with Gingerbread crumbs.
  9. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  10. Enjoy.

Tip: This freezes well, so it can be made ahead and pulled out to thaw 2- 10  hours before serving.  Thaw on the counter top for 2 -4 hours, or  in refrigerator for any longer period of time
Begin by mixing together the flour, butter and finely chopped nuts until well blended and crumbly.


Place approximately two tablespoons into the bottom of each jar.

 This recipe will fill 14 to 16 little jars.


Use a dowel or smooth broad based utensil to press the mixture into the bottom of the jar.
Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.




While the shortbread crust is cooking and cooling, prepare the pudding layers. Begin by mixing together the cream cheese and powdered sugar.




When the cream cheese and powdered sugar are well mixed, gently fold in half of an 8 oz container of whipped topping. Stir until well combined.  Set to the side.



In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and pudding mixes. Whisk until pudding begins to thicken.


Add a 15 oz can of pumpkin and two teaspoons of Cinnamon.



Whisk until all is well mixed and creamy.


Now its time to layer the puddings and the gingerbread crumbs. Start with the cream cheese layer overt he cooled shortbread crust. Next add a thin layer of gingerbread crumbs, then comes the pumpkin pudding layer, and a second layer of gingerbread crumbs.  Last top with the remaining whipped topping mix and a light sprinkle of gingerbread crumbs.  You can top with a gingerbread cookie or gingersnap, for a cute presentation.

  
My daughter had just made up a batch of gingerbread cookies just before I made this.... and she was so kind to share them with me; she's such a sweetie. Some of the cutouts were fall leaves and little acorns, as well as gingerbread men, so cute for Fall, and perfect timing for me to add them to this dessert.


Rich,


creamy,

deliciousness.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cherry Rose Tarts



 What do you get when you take Shortbread pie crust,  fill it with cherry pie filling, top it  with "pie crust rose petals", and drizzle it with Almond  Icing?  You get delicious little Rose Tarts, just in time for Valentines Day.  






Let's get started.

Roll half of the pie dough onto floured surface to about 1/8 of an inch thickness.
Cut 36 circles with the larger round cookie cutter.
Place three circles of dough into each muffin cup, for a bottom crust. Stagger them so that they look like petals around the top.

Press them into the muffin cup, so that they fill the cup evenly, and are well pressed together.


Distribute the Cherry Pie filling evenly in the muffin cups. 


One can of Pie filling will fill 12 muffin cups.


In two or three batches, roll out remaining dough onto a floured surface to about 1/8 of an inch thickness. Cut about 72 small circles( You will want to do them in batches, so that the dough doesn't dry out as you go). These will be your petals.

Cut each circle in half to create a half circle.

Layer them like petals onto the tart. 




I layered about nine petals inside the tart, and then created a center 3 petals and placed it in the center of the tart.


 For the center, roll a dough petal into a tight tube. 


 Layer with 2 or three more petals, by wrapping around this tube.  If needed, dip them in water to help them adhere to each other.

 Place it in the center of the tart. You can see the tart on right has the center placed in, and the tart o the left needs its center put in.


  Place into preheated oven and  bake 25 - 35 minutes.

Cherry Rose Tarts:
Ingredients:
1 recipe Shortbread Pie Crust
1 21 ounce Can Cherry pie filling
1 recipe Almond Icing
1 12 cup Muffin Tin
Two sizes of round cookie cutters (the small one 2-3 inches across, the larger one 3-4 inches across); I used a round measuring shot glass for the small, and a slightly larger round cutter for the larger one)

Instruction:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll half of the pie dough onto floured surface to about 1/8 of an inch thickness.
  3. Cut 36 circles with the larger round cookie cutter.
  4. Place three circles of dough into each muffin cup, for a bottom crust. Stagger them so that they look like petals around the top.
  5. Press them into the muffin cup, so that they fill the cup evenly, and are well pressed together.
  6. Distribute the Cherry Pie filling evenly in the muffin cups. One can of Pie filling will fill 12 muffin cups.
  7. In two or three batches, roll out remaining dough onto a floured surface to about 1/8 of an inch thickness.
  8. Cut about 72 small circles( You will want to do them in batches, so that the dough doesn't dry out as you go). These will be your petals.
  9. Cut each circle in half to create a half circle, and begin to layer them like petals onto the tart.  For the center, roll a dough petal into a tight tube.  Layer with 2 or three more petals, by wrapping round this tube.  If needed, dip them in water to help them adhere to each other. Place in the center of the tart.
  10. When all are finished, place in oven and bake 25 - 35 minutes; or until the crust is slightly golden brown.
  11. Drizzle with Icing,  or dust with powdered sugar.
  12. Serve hot or cold.
  13. Enjoy.
Note: These look pretty just dusted with powdered sugar, but they taste the best with the Almond icing drizzled over them.

Shortbread Pie Crust:
Ingredients:
3  cups Organic Unbleached Flour (plus 1 cup for dusting and rolling).
1 1//4  cup Butter, slightly softened
3/4 cup Organic Cane Sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup Organic Half and Half or Cream.
2 Tablespoons Organic White Vinegar

Instructions:
  1. Measure half and half and Vinegar together in a small bowl, and place into the freezer to chill.
  2. Measure flour, salt and  sugar into a mixing bowl.
  3. Cut in butter until the mixture is thoroughly blended and crumbly.
  4. Slowly add the cream and vinegar mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until all of the dough clings together, (don't be afraid to adjust the liquid up or down a little, to get just enough moisture in the dough to allow it to cling together nicely, but not be too wet).
  5. Stir and form into a ball.
  6. Cover and refrigerate about an hour, for best rolling results.

Almond Icing
Ingredients:
1 cup Organic Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
1-2 Tablespoons Organic Half and Half

Instructions:
  1. Add powdered sugar to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Add almond extract, and  stir.
  3. Stir and add the "Half and Half a little at a time, until the icing can be drizzled from a spoon.
  4. For this recipe, I saved a little of the cherry pie filling to add some color to the icing (less than a teaspoon), so that is an option if you want to add some color to your icing.


Dust them with Powdered Sugar,





Or drizzle them with Almond Icing.






Enjoy!