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FOR YOUR SWEET TOOTH

The holidays are almost here and we always look for that special pie or dessert to take to family dinners. The following recipes are a few sweet treats to try. – Pat

STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM PIE

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided

3 teaspoons shortening, divided

1 graham cracker crust (10 oz.)

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 carton (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed

2 cups fresh strawberries, halved

1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam

Melt 3/4 cup chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons shortening in a microwave and stir until smooth. Brush over crust. Refrigerate until firm. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Fold in the whipped topping. Spoon into crust. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Arrange the strawberries over the top of the pie. Heat the jam until melted in a microwave and brush over the top. Melt the remaining chocolate chips and shortening and stir until smooth. Drizzle over the pie. Refrigerate until chilled. Yield: 8 servings.

PEANUT BUTTER CREAM DELIGHT

1 package (14 oz.) cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened

1 1/2 cups salted peanuts.

CARAMEL SAUCE:

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup butter, cubed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

CHOCOLATE SAUCE:

1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup butter, cubed

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine cookie crumbs and butter in a bowl. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 13x9x2-inch dish. Spread ice cream over crust and sprinkle with peanuts. Cover and freeze for at least 1 hour. For caramel sauce: combine the brown sugar, cream and butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool. Drizzle over the peanuts. Cover and freeze for at least 1 hour. For chocolate sauce: combine the milk, chocolate chips and butter in a large saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Stir in the confectioners sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool. Drizzle over dessert. Cover and freeze for 2 hours or until firm. Yield: 12-15 servings.

PUMPKIN DESSERT BARS

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 1/3 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

5 eggs

1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

whipped topping and ground nutmeg, optional

Combine graham cracker crumbs and 1/3 cup sugar in a small bowl. Stir in butter and press into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Beat cream cheese and 2/3 cup sugar in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Beat in 2 eggs just until blended. Pour over crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile, separate remaining eggs and set whites aside. Combine the yolks, pumpkin, brown sugar, milk, salt and cinnamon in a large saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat for 10-12 minutes or until mixture is thickened and reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small saucepan and let stand for 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir into the pumpkin mixture and set aside. Combine the reserved egg whites and the remaining sugar in a large heavy saucepan. With a portable mixer, beat on low speed for 1 minute. Continue beating over low heat until mixture reaches 160 degrees, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Fold into the pumpkin mixture and spread evenly over cream cheese layer. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. Garnish with shipped topping and nutmeg if desired. Yield: 15 servings.

PECAN GOODY CUPS

3/4 cup butter, softened

2 packages (3 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

2 cups all-purpose flour

FILLING:

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon butter, melted

48 pecans halves

Beat butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour, beating until mixture forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. For filling: combine the brown sugar, eggs and butter in a small bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Press onto the bottoms and up the sides of greased miniature muffin cups. Spoon filling into cups and top each with a pecan half. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2-3 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield 4 dozen.

QUICK TIPS

• When making bars, line pan with aluminum foil and prepare as directed. The bars can be lifted out and cleanup is easy.

• Pumpkin and other custard-style pies are done when they jiggle slightly in the middle.

I’ll see you next week in the kitchen.  
E-mail Pat at patrogermills@embarqmail.com.

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