Christmas Desserts



Cherry Cranberry Galette

Open-face tarts called galettes are popular French fare. This one, with its tender, flavorful pastry and festive red berry filling, is sure to be a hit among your dessert-lovers. If fresh cherries aren’t available, you can use frozen (thawed) ones, which also work beautifully.

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice-cold water
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 2 cups pitted cherries, about half of them cut in half
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter
  1. To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender.
  2. Blend the ice water and sour cream or yogurt in a measuring cup and sprinkle it over the dry mixture. Stir briskly until the dough gathers into a ball.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and, with floured hands, knead it for about 10 seconds, just long enough to smooth it. Flatten the dough into a thick disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it for at least 2 hours before rolling it out.
  4. When the dough is chilled, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly greased aluminum foil. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Combine the cherries, cranberries, sugar, lemon juice, flour, and vanilla extract in a medium-size mixing bowl. Mix well.
  6. Working on a well-floured sheet of waxed paper, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle; flour the pin and surface of the dough, if needed, to keep the pin from sticking. Invert the pastry over the lined baking sheet and peel off the paper. Pour the filling onto the center of the pastry, spreading it evenly and leaving a 2 1/2-inch border of uncovered pastry all around.
  7. Using a spatula to help lift the dough, fold the edge of the pastry partially over the filling, working your way around the tart. The pastry will form pleats as you go. Using a pastry brush, lightly moisten the exposed pastry with water and then sprinkle it with sugar. Cut the tablespoon of butter into small pieces and scatter it over the fruit.
  8. Bake the tart on the center oven rack for about 40 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the pastry is a rich golden brown. Cool the tart on the pan for 5 minutes, then slide the tart and the paper or foil lining onto a wire rack. Cut it into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 servings.



Cranberry Apple Pie

A touch of color and tartness sets this apple pie apart from the classic standby. Mixing the crumb topping makes a fun job for young helpers.

  • PIE
  • 1 refrigerated pie pastry
  • 2 cups apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries (thawed if frozen)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie pan with the pastry, fluting the edge.
  2. Thinly slice the apples crosswise and combine them in a large bowl with the cranberries. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and flour, mixing well. Transfer the filling to the pie shell, smoothing the top of the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and cinnamon for the topping. Add the butter, rubbing it into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove the pie from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Spread the topping over the pie and bake it for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden and the fruit thickens and bubbles around the edges. Allow the pie to cool for 2 hours before serving. Serves 8.



Chocolaty Ricotta Pie

With a filling of sweetened ricotta cheese, mini chocolate chips, and grated orange zest, this Italian classic is hard to top. When you’re ready to serve the pie, be sure to slice it thin, as it’s quite rich.

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/6 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  1. Cream Cheese Pastry: Using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, cream the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until soft and well blended. Stir in the salt and confectioners’ sugar. Add the flour a third at a time, beating well each time.
  2. Gather the dough into a ball and place it on a floured surface. With floured hands, knead the dough 3 or 4 times to smooth it. Place the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap, flatten it into a 3/4-inch-thick disk, wrap it in the plastic, and chill it for at least 2 hours before rolling it out.
  3. Filling: Lightly grease a 9 1/2-inch springform pan and set it aside. On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 12-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over the pan and carefully peel off the paper. (If it lands off-center, simply lift it in sections to reposition it.) Lower the pastry into the pan, gently pressing it into the bottom and about 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Place the pan in the freezer while you make the filling.
  4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the ricotta cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with an electric mixer each time. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, orange zest, and cinnamon and mix briefly. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Slowly pour the filling into the chilled pie shell, gently swirling through the batter with a spatula to evenly distribute the chocolate chips.
  6. Bake the pie on the center oven rack until the top is light golden brown and the filling is set, about 45 minutes. When it’s done, the very center may have a slight sheen, but most of the surface will have a nonglossy appearance. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let it cool completely.
  7. To make the topping, combine the sour cream and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir well for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat, until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream. Then slowly pour the topping over the pie — it should be fluid enough to spread itself evenly over the surface. Once the pie is completely cooled, cover the pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours. When you’re ready to serve it, remove the sides of the pan and slice the pie. For a festive touch, you can garnish the slices with orange zest. Makes 12 to 16 servings.



Mini Sweet Potato Pies

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, about 12 oz. each
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg (or a combination of favorite pumpkin spices, such as cinnamon, cloves and allspice)
  • 12 oz. evaporated skim milk or light cream
  • Unbaked pie dough (enough to make three single crusts)
  1. First, prepare the sweet potatoes. Peel, quarter and remove any woody portions. Boil in a covered saucepan with just enough water to cover. When soft (after about 20 to 25 minutes), drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Alternatively, prick the skins of the potatoes and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until tender. Cool, halve, scoop out the flesh and place it in the bowl.
  2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the butter to the potatoes and mash with an electric mixer on low speed.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs for 1 minute or until foamy. Whisk them into the potatoes, add the sugar and nutmeg and blend on low speed until combined. Gradually add the milk or cream and beat until smooth.
  4. Meanwhile, roll out the pie dough. Let the kids make mini pies by shaping pieces of dough into muffin tins or mini tart pans, or line two 9-inch deep-dish pie pans with pie dough (you’ll only need enough dough for two single crusts).
  5. Pour the filling into the shells. On the lower rack of your oven, bake mini pies for 25 minutes and deep-dish pies for 1 hour. When baked, the crust will be golden and the top will be set.
  6. Cool for 2 hours. Refrigerate, loosely covered with plastic. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 12 mini or two 9-inch pies.
  7. Kids’ Steps: Older kids can use the electric mixer to mash the sweet potatoes. Younger kids can measure and add ingredients to the filling and shape the dough for the mini pies.



A sinfully delicious dessert that melts in your mouth

  • 1 9-inch graham cracker crust
  • 2 8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with the rack in the center position.
  2. Place the cream cheese and sugar in a mixing bowl or in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process or use a handheld mixer to blend the two ingredients until they are smooth. Add the eggs, pumpkin pie filling, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, and mix or process until smooth. If you are using the mixer, take care not to beat too much air into the batter, as this will cause it to rise during baking and then fall and crack when it cools.
  3. Pour the mixture into the crust, and bake the pie for 30 minutes or until the top looks dry, with only a small damp spot remaining in the center. Cool completely before serving, refrigerating or freezing. Makes 8 servings.



Keep the sauce on the side if you aren’t sure everyone will want some. This way the ones who want it can drizzle to their hearts delight.

  • 6 large firm apples
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 crusts for a 9-inch pie
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  1. Peel, core and slice the apples. Toss apples, sugar, flour and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  2. Line bottom of pan with crust. Fill the crust with the apple mixture and cover this with the top crust. Seal and crimp edges. Using a knife, cut 1-inch long vents in top crust.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake 40 minutes more. Makes 8 servings.
  4. While the pie is baking, prepare the rum raisin sauce. Combine raisins and rum in a small bowl and let stand 20 minutes. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine sugar and 1/4 cup water and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Boil 5 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in rum and raisin mixture, orange juice, butter and cornstarch. Return mixture to heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool until warm. Spoon over slightly cooled pie.



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