Creating the joy of a sweets-filled Christmas


December 19, 2007|By Joannah Hill | Joannah Hill,Sun reporter

The Pastry Queen Christmas

By Rebecca Rather with Alison Oresman

Christmas Sweets

Georgeanne Brennan

Chronicle Books / 2007 / $18.95

Talk about visions of sugarplums. This book will have you rolling dough and sharpening your X-Acto knife to create a gingerbread cookie box. Apricot-Pistachio Bars are gift-giving pretty. And the creative packaging ideas for your edible gifts spread the good cheer.

Apricot-Pistachio Bars

-- Makes about sixty-five 1 1/2 -inch squares

1 teaspoon butter plus 1 cup (2 sticks) softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar

4 eggs

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon apricot brandy (optional)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

2 cups coarsely chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup dried currants

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachios


1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Using the 1 teaspoon butter, grease a 10-by-15-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the 1 cup butter and the sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well. Add the orange zest, vanilla extract and apricot brandy, if using, and beat to blend well.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, mace, apricots, currants and pistachios; mix well. Stir flour mixture into the butter mixture; blend well.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool about 15 minutes.

To make the icing: In a bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar and orange juice and mix to a medium-firm consistency. Spread on the top of the still-warm, uncut cookies in the pan and let stand until the icing sets. Cut the cookies into 1 1/2 -inch squares.

From "Christmas Sweets"

Per square: 81 calories, 1 gram protein, 4 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 12 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 21 milligrams cholesterol, 28 milligrams sodium From "Christmas Sweets"

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