Delicious, Organic Holiday Desserts

The holidays are a time for giving―and eating. If you’re going to put on a few pounds this month, then here are a few recipes that will help you gain weight the organic way.

Farmer Cheese Balls

–2 pounds farmer cheese
–1 cup semolina
–3 eggs
–½ lemon, grated
–1 tablespoon vanilla extract
–8 tablespoons sugar
–1 butter stick
–1 ½ cups plain bread crumbs

1. Put the farmer cheese in a large bowl and thoroughly mix with semolina. Add vanilla, lemon zest, and 4 tablespoons of sugar, then stir. Add the eggs one at a time, and continue mixing. Once the ingredients are mixed well, allow it to rest for half an hour. While you’re waiting, boil a large pot of water on high heat.

2. Melt the butter in a large pan, then add bread crumbs and fry over medium heat until the mixture is golden brown. Turn off the heat and add 4 tablespoons of sugar.

3. Mold the cheese mixture in tiny balls. This is most easily accomplished with wet hands.

4. When water boils, turn the heat to low and add the cheese balls to cover the bottom of the pot. The cheese balls are cooked when they rise to the surface. Remove balls from the pot, add them to the pan with bred crumbs, and roll. Then place the little balls on a plate and serve. This recipe serves 40 balls. [MyOrganicRecipes]

Spiced Eggnog Cheesecake with Ginger Snap Crust

–1 ⅔ cups ground gingersnap cookies (8 ounces)
–3 ½ tablespoons melted Organic Valley butter
–24 ounces softened Organic Valley cream cheese (three 8-ounce packages)
–1 cup sugar
–2 tablespoons flour
–½ whole nutmeg, freshly grated (or 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
–⅛ teaspoon freshly ground cloves
–5 large Organic Valley eggs
–1 ½ cups of Organic Valley eggnog
–¼ cup spiced rum or brandy (or 2 teaspoons rum extract)
–1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine ground gingersnaps and melted butter. Reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom and partially up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then set crust aside to cool (be sure to leave the oven on).

2. Filling: Use electric beaters at medium speed to cream cheese for 4 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Gradually beat in sugar and flour and continue beating 3 minutes, scraping sides occasionally. Grate half of a whole nutmeg over surface of batter, add cloves and blend the spices into the mixture. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in eggnog, spiced rum and vanilla.

3. Gently pour filling into crust. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until cheesecake is lightly browned and your instant thermometer (in the center) reads 160 degrees. Turn the oven off, open the door halfway, and leave cheesecake inside for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the oven has cooled off. Transfer cheesecake to a cooling rack and run a thin knife across the outer edges to prevent cracks from forming. Cool cheesecake to room temperature. Sprinkle reserved gingersnaps over the cake. Chill cheesecake thoroughly before serving; this recipe serves 16 people. [Organic Valley]

Maple Pecan Pie

–1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell.
–3 medium eggs, beaten
–1 ¼ cups pure maple syrup
–2 tablespoons organic white flour
–2 tablespoons melted butter
–1 teaspoon pure vanilla
–¼ teaspoon salt
–¾ cup halved pecans
–Whipped cream

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Beat eggs in a bowl. Add maple syrup, flour, melted butter, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Then add pecans and stir filling thoroughly.

3. Pour pie filling into the shell and place it on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until crust is brown and the middle of the pie has puffed up.

4. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Pie will be puffed up quite unnaturally, but will sink as it cools. Serve warm with whipped cream. [SimpleBites]

Healthy Peanut Brittle

–1 cup Sucanat
–½ cup agave syrup
–¼ teaspoon salt
–¼ cup water
–1 cup peanuts, or any favorite nut
–2 tablespoons coconut oil
–1 teaspoon vanilla
–1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Grease one large cookie sheet.

2. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, bring Sucanat, agave syrup, salt, and water to a boil. Stir until Sucanat is dissolved. Bring to a boil and add coconut oil and vanilla, stirring until mixture reaches 280 degrees Fahrenheit on the candy thermometer.

3. Add peanuts and continue stirring until temperature reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit, or until a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water separates into hard and brittle threads.

4. Remove mixture from heat and quickly stir in baking soda, then pour contents onto cookie sheet. With 2 forks, lift and spread peanut mixture into rectangle. Allow the mixture to cool, and then break the candy into pieces. [Care2 Healthy Living]

Free Range Fruitcake

–1 cup golden raisins
–1 cup currants
–½ cup sun dried cranberries
–½ cup sun dried blueberries
–½ cup sun dried cherries
–½ cup dried apricots, chopped
–Zest of one lemon, chopped coarsely
–Zest of one orange, chopped coarsely
–¼ cup candied ginger, chopped
–1 cup gold rum
–1 cup sugar
–5 ounces unsalted butter (1 ¼ sticks)
–1 cup unfiltered apple juice
–4 whole cloves, ground
–6 allspice berries, ground
–1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
–1 teaspoon ground ginger
–1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
–1 ½teaspoons salt
–1 teaspoon baking soda
–1 teaspoon baking powder
–2 eggs
–¼ to ½ cup toasted pecans, broken
–Brandy for basting and/or spritzing

1. Combine dried fruits, candied ginger, and both zests. Add rum and macerate overnight, or microwave for 5 minutes to re-hydrate fruit before preparing the cake.

2. Place fruit and liquid in a non-reactive pot with the sugar, butter, apple juice, and spices. Stir often, and bring mixture to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and cool it for at least 15 minutes.

3. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine dry ingredients and add to fruit mixture. Quickly bring batter together with a large wooden spoon, then stir in eggs one at a time followed by the nuts. Spoon into a 10-inch non-stick loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.

4. Insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If not, bake for another 10 minutes, and repeat this step as needed.

5. Remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack. Baste top of the cake with brandy and allow it to cool completely before turning out from pan.

6. Seal in a tight food-safe container. Every 2 to 3 days, feel the cake and if dry, spritz with brandy. Store the cake this way for two weeks. [The Food Network]