5 raisin dessert recipes for the holidays
It's the holidays. You need some yummy dessert options. Mix it up a bit: instead of a standard slice of chocolate cake, offer a selection of nibbles. Perhaps a dessert tasting menu? You could plate a trio of bites with a drizzle of caramel, pass small platters so guests can hand-pick their faves or display large, tempting platters on a nearby buffet.
Perhaps offer a selection of after dinner liquors? People love to pair dessert with espresso or port, Vin Santo or Grappa, sweet harvest wines, cognac, sherry and eggnog. Dessert is a time to linger, laugh a bit more, listen longer and soak up a few more lovely moments.
1. bread pudding ever the fan of using leftovers to make something amazing---here yesterday's bread becomes your favorite dessert bite (see photo, above). Recipe also includes whiskey caramel sauce.
Having taught cooking classes for a number of years---and especially helping teams compete in iron chef events (think: race against time to produce 3 course meal plus dessert then plate for voting)---I became a big fan of puff pastry. Perhaps the best-kept secret of the quick-fix dessert world, puff pastry is a receptacle for any number and variety of last-minute fillings.
2. raisin apple empanadas thank you puff pastry: a few moments to create a sweet, fall filling then make puff pastry pockets and bake (great to make ahead, then pop sheet of empanadas in oven just in time for dessert). I make them bite size (see photo, above).
3. pies in jars are all the rage. I created a whole meal from jars once---a fantastic challenge---and I especially love individual pies baked in tiny jars. Use the empanada filling or a simple apple filling then add rum-soaked raisins. I buy pre-made pie crust when holidays are busy and I fail to have a pie crust stash in my freezer (a frequent fail, mind you). Cut circles of dough, line little jars, add filling and top. Prick and bake about 20-25 min at 375 until lightly browned and bubbly. Tiny scoops of vanilla ice cream might be a nice touch!
4. rum raisin shortbread cookies I love: that these are make-ahead. If you are lining a buffet with cookies and pastry bites, tiny cakes and pies, it will help to have as many desserts as possible already made. I like to have a log or two of shortbread-type cookies in my freezer. To bake: remove from freezer, let defrost a bit, then cut in rounds and line cookie sheet. I will warn you: these are a tad addictive.
5. vanilla rice pudding with raisin apple compote. I often make rice pudding for dessert and top it with a favorite compote, jam or sauce. It is the perfect warm gooey sweet creamy bite. I never have leftovers. You can use the same empanada filling, or poach raisins, apples, pears, other dried fruit together in some port wine with a little sugar and a tiny pinch of salt. Just simmer until syrupy. Taste to determine doneness.
A special raisin-studded thank you to California Raisins for hosting myself and a handful of other bloggers in Fresno this past summer. I readily toss my to-do list aside if ever invited to meet farmers. Which is what we did: met raisin farmers, saw their vineyards, learned about drying grapes both on the vine and on paper mats laid on the ground. In turn I promised to develop a few recipes with raisins (which just between you and I: I would have done anyway). This raisin dessert pile just seemed like an appropriate way to say thank you---an appropriate tribute to these nutrition-packed gems. The health factor alone should make you feel good about eating a few extra dessert bites!