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updated 12/20/2011 4:28:27 PM ET 2011-12-20T21:28:27

Recipe: Red and green truffles

Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup cashew cream, recipe follows
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) 41 percent cocoa vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon agave
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1/2 medium orange
  • Cashew cream
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashew nuts
Preparation

Topping suggestions: Finely chopped pistachio nuts (green) and red peppermint candies, crushed (red).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the cashew cream and chocolate chips. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering hot water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the agave, vanilla and orange zest. Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour until firm. With a small ice cream scoop or a round (1 tablespoon-size) measuring spoon, spoon out the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. With damp hands, roll the scoops of mixture into balls and return to the baking sheet. Refrigerate for 1 hour until firm.

Roll the truffles in desired toppings and serve.

Cashew cream: In a small bowl, combine the water and cashew nuts. Allow the cashews to soak for at least 2 hours or overnight at room temperature. In a blender, blend together the cashews andwater at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute.

Cook's note: Leftover cashew cream can be sweetened with agave or sugar and used to top cakes, ice cream or coffee drinks.

Serving Size

30 to 35 truffles

Recipe: Peppermint-chocolate sandwich cookies

Ingredients
  • 1 (16.5 ounce) tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Preparation

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, knead together the cookie dough and 1/4 cup flour until smooth. Lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out circles from the dough. Knead together any scraps of dough and roll out again. Continue to cut out pastrycircles until there are 24 pieces in total. Place the dough circles on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are slightly golden around the edges, about 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack tocool completely. Reserve 1 parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Combine 1 cup of chocolate chips and the cream in a small bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the peppermint extract and refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour. Using a 1/2-ounce cookie scoop or a tablespoon measure,place the chocolate mixture in the center of the flat side of 12 of the cookies. Place the remaining cookies on top and gently squeeze to distribute the filling evenly. Place on a baking sheet and freeze until the filling has set, about 25 minutes.

Combine the remaining chocolate chips and the vegetable oil in a small bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Dip the top of each cookie in the melted chocolate and return to the baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with crushed candy canes or peppermint candies. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store in an airtight plastic container.

Decorating suggestion: crushed candy canes or peppermint candies; white, red and green sprinkles; or red and green decorating sugar.

Special equipment: a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, and a 1/2-ounce cookie scoop.

Serving Size

12 sandwich cookies

Recipe: Apricot and salami scones

Ingredients
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 (15-ounce) box plain scone mix (recommended: Ivy Cottage)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 20 dried apricots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, to yield about 1 cup
  • 6 ounces salami, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
Preparation

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine the scone mix and butter. Pulseuntil the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the apricots, salami, and thyme. Add the buttermilk and mixuntil a sticky dough forms. Place 1/3 cupfuls of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the tops start to brown slightly, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 20 minutes.

Serving Size

10-12 scones

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