Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Recipe for Bite-sized Holiday Baking

(ARA) - The holidays supply an endless array of mouth-watering treats. Miniature versions of favorite desserts are perfect for holiday entertaining, especially when grouped together on a dessert buffet. This season try bite-sized, scrumptious cookies and candies to share new flavors with your friends and family.

Instead of baking massive batches of cookies, your dessert buffet can inspire awe with three to five bite-sized versions of different types of desserts -- an array of small cookies, candies, bars and cupcakes.

It is easy to make existing recipes bite size -- simply cut bars into one-inch square portions or prepare cookies in smaller shapes and reduce the bake time accordingly. Feel free to experiment with recipes that feature trendy or unusual flavors since the small treats are perfect for first-time tastings and give nibblers permission to sample more than just one. And, of course, use only the best ingredients, such as real butter and premium chocolate because you only celebrate the holidays once a year.

For inspiration, visit www.ButterIsBest.com to view dozens of holiday recipes and tips for baking. Sign up for the Holiday Magic e-newsletter and you’ll receive a daily e-mail with a holiday cookie or candy recipe, along with helpful baking tips from nationally acclaimed pastry chef Gale Gand.

The following bite-sized recipe from America's Dairy Farmers pairs coffee with a buttery chocolate layer that kicks up these rich, cheesecake-like Espresso Chocolate Squares.

Espresso Chocolate Squares
Makes two dozen bars

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Filling:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee powder
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs

Glaze:
6 tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil; butter bottom of foil. Whisk together 1 1/4 cups flour, confectioners’ sugar and cocoa together in medium bowl; add 3/4 cup butter. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until butter is the size of small peas. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips; press into bottom of pan. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean; cool slightly.

Meanwhile, stir 1/4 cup cream and 1 tablespoon instant espresso together until coffee is dissolved. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup butter together. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and allspice; beat until blended. Slowly beat in cream and coffee mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Pour batter over crust.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are slightly puffed and center is set; set pan on a cooling rack.

Glaze
Melt 6 tablespoons chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon cream, 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Drizzle over bars and refrigerate until set. Cut into bite-sized squares.

Cover and store bars in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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