Delicious New Ideas for Holiday Treats

Thaw frozen meringues, still in wrapped container, until container reaches room temperature, at least 30 minutes. (Do not unwrap and open container until completely thawed.)

*Recipe courtesy of GOURMET magazine



Trios (also known as Thumbprint Cookies)

MAKES ABOUT 3 1/2 DOZEN COOKIES
ACTIVE TIME: 1 3/4 hr
START TO FINISH: 3 1/2 hr (includes chilling dough and cooling cookies)

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
About 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
About 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
About 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves

Equipment:

A 1/2-inch-thick wooden spoon handle or dowel

Make Dough:

Whisk together flour and salt.

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until very pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes, then beat in egg and vanilla.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms. Divide dough in half and form each piece into a 6-inch disk, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.

Assemble and Bake Cookies:

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll 3 separate level teaspoons of dough each into a ball, then flatten each ball slightly (to 1 inch wide and less than 1/2 inch thick). Arrange them in a triangle on baking sheet with edges touching in center, then make a deep indentation in center of each round with wooden spoon handle. Make more cookies, arranging them 1 inch apart on baking sheets.

Fill indentations in each cookie with about 1/8 teaspoon jam (each cookie should have 3 different fillings), avoiding any large pieces of fruit.

Bake until cookies are baked through and golden-brown on edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Bake more batches on cooled baking sheets lined with fresh parchment.

Cooks' notes:

Dough can be chilled up to 2 days.

Cookies keep, layered between sheets of parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

*Recipe courtsey of GOURMET magazine



Chocolate Peanut Toffee


MAKES ABOUT 3 POUNDS OF TOFFEE
ACTIVE TIME: 45 min
START TO FINISH: 1 3/4 hr

Ingredients:

4 sticks (1 lb) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups whole cocktail peanuts plus 1 cup chopped (1 lb 10 oz)
7 to 8 oz 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Equipment:

A 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan; a candy thermometer; a metal offset spatula

Directions:

Butter baking pan and put on a heatproof surface.

Bring butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat, whisking until smooth, then boil, stirring occasionally, until mixture is deep golden and registers 300°F (hard-crack stage; see Kitchen Notebook, page 240) on thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes.

Immediately stir in whole peanuts, then carefully pour hot toffee into center of baking pan. Spread with spatula, smoothing top, and let stand 1 minute, then immediately sprinkle chocolate on top.

Let stand until chocolate is melted, 4 to 5 minutes, then spread over toffee with cleaned spatula.

Sprinkle evenly with chopped peanuts, then freeze until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. Break into pieces.

Cooks' note:

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