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December 2003 Issue
Gifts from the Kitchen
by Ronda L. Halpin
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Chocolate Spritz Cookies

If you've got a chocolate lover on your list, layer these pretty cookies between sheets of waxed paper in a nice holiday tin and you'll be sure to have someone's gratitude.
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate -- coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. butter -- softened
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the chocolate in a microwavable dish by microwaving it on HIGH for 30 seconds at a time, mixing the chocolate after each cooking.

Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl; stir to mix.

Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and extract. Add the chocolate and beat again. Gradually add the flour mixture while mixing.

Fit a cookie press with your desired plate and fill the press with the dough. Press the dough 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes or until set. Remove them to a wire rack and cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

  • Yields: 60 cookies
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes
 

 

Cheddar Pepper Bread

This highly flavored bread is a perfect companion to soup and would make an excellent hostess gift as you attend parties and gatherings during the holidays. Wrap each loaf in brightly colored plastic wrap to insure freshness and festivity.
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 container (8 ounces) plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup butter -- melted
  • 2 eggs -- lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the flour, baking powder, pepper, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the cheese.

Stir together the yogurt, melted butter and eggs. Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture; stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon the batter into a buttered and floured 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan. Serve warm or toasted, if desired. This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.

  • Yields: 1 loaf
  • Preparation Time: about 1 hour
 

Enjoy your holiday planning and gift giving -- whether you take advantage of your kitchen. In a month devoted to get togethers and filled with cool weather, your kitchen will find a way to shine whatever you put under the tree!

If there's a topic that you'd like to see covered in this column, let me know. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

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