Long ago I swore off cookie and candy baking because of one unescapable reality: I could happily live on these foods alone.
There are only two qualifiers that call for such activities; one, if it’s the holiday season and two, just for the kids. Currently both qualifications are met so treats abound!
After producing these batches, some improvisations and others classic recipes from our Swedish lineage, it was gratifying to see so many ingredients in use from the preserves of the summer. Among these are dried apricots, apple-maple jam and rhubarb sauce. In the fruit bar recipe here, the flavors of preserves prove perfect.
These recipes comprise three Swedish generations of holiday treat baking, one from myself, one from my mama and one from her mother. Grandma Irene’s is authentically Swedish whereas the other two are simply yummy creations made by we with Swedish heritage.
Butterballs, Swedish Grandma’s Recipe
With her grand dinner parties, gracious hostessing and Swedish cooking, any recipe from Rene is a sure winner. So it is with these ever so tasty butterballs. These cookies qualify for the ‘anytime, anywhere’ list.
This recipe makes a treat of supple buttery texture and rich nutty flavor. It is a basic cookie at face value, but that would be an underestimation. At first I was worried about the small measure of sugar that the recipe requires, but I would not change the ratios a bit.
1 c butter
4 T powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
2 c sifter flour
1 c chopped nuts
1-2 c powdered sugar
~Cream butter; add sugar and beat until light; add vanilla and beat again.
~Add flour and mix well; fold in chopped nuts.
~Shape into small balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 15-18 minutes on 350º F or until just firm and beginning to golden.
~Roll in powdered sugar while still warm; allow to cool before serving.
Fruit Bar Cookies with Preserves, Recipe
I toke a classic, simple bar cookie recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook and created three different new fruit combinations. Each of these (apricot-date, apple-maple and rhubarb) came from the pantry, produced from garden and gathering in the sweet summer months. And each can be reproduced or replaced if desired.
1 c flour (I use our local Bluebird Grain Farms flour here)
1 c oats
2/3 c brown sugar
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 c butter
1 recipe fruit filling (see options below)
~Combine first four ingredients in a bowl and mix well; cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender, knives or food processor until resembling course sand.
~Reserve 1/2 cup pastry mixture and set aside; with remaining pastry mixture, spread on bottom of an ungreased 9 x 9 ” baking dish or pan; mash down to one even layer.
~Top first cookie layer evenly with fruit filling of choice; sprinkle remaining pastry mixture on top of fruit.
~Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until top crust begins to brown.
Apple-Maple Fruit Filling
I used my recipe for apple-maple jam, found on the preserves page (Canned & Preserved 2012), but here is a simple sauce that approximates the jam recipe.
1 1/2 c apples (preferable a tart variety) peeled and cored
1/4 c water
1/3 c maple syrup
pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
~Bring apples and water to a boil and reduce to simmer for 3 minutes; add maple and spices and simmer for a couple minutes more; thicken with flour if desired; cool slightly and spread evenly on first cooking layer.
Apricot-Date Fruit Filling
1 c dried apricots
1/2 c chopped dates
1/2 c water
1/3 c sugar
3 T flour
~Chop apricots; bring apricots to a boil in water and let simmer for about 5 minutes or until soft; add sugar and flour and simmer for a couple minutes more; remove from heat and add dates; spread on top of first cookie layer.
Rhubarb Fruit Filling
Using rhubarb sauce is just fine for this version; see the recipe at article The Barb is On. I used rhubarb from the freezer that I had washed and chopped this summer. Here’s the quick cook down sauce that maintains some of the chunky freshness of the barb.
1 1/2 c rhubarb, chopped in one inch pieces
1/4 c water
1/2 c sugar
4 T flour
~Using a small sauce pot, boil water and rhubarb and reduce to a simmer; add sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes; add flour as needed to thicken and simmer a minute more; cool slightly and spread evenly on first cookie layer.
Peanut Butter Tiger Fudge Recipe
Super quick, fun to make with children and universally popular, this family recipe is one we make every year. It is easy to modify to your liking, i.e. remove or switch out nuts, coat with dark chocolate, light, or none at all. It seems to get eaten faster than any other holiday treat, regardless of the latest version. And if you are in a rush to produce some fast candy, this recipe is a sinch with no baking involved.
1 lb. candy coating (almond bark)
1 c creamy peanut butter
1 c walnuts or other nuts
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
~Melt coating in a saucepan over medium neat, stirring constantly until smooth; remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and nuts.
~Fit tin foil to a shallow baking pan or two such as cake pans; spread candy mixture evenly to coat, about 1/4 inch.
~With spoonfuls of warm chocolate, spread in zig-zag patterns over top of candy mixture.
~Chill for 1 hour +; remove from refrigeration and cut into two inch pieces; store refrigerated.
Love from our kitchen to yours, Georgina @ Soul & Stomach