Naughty & Nice Recipe Shake-Ups


The holidays are no time for deprivation. With get-togethers typically centered on lavish feasts, who wants to feel left out? Yet every year some of us forgo one of the most enjoyable parts of the holidays -- dessert.

Not this year! There will be no finger-wagging or guilty feelings to rectify with a New Year's resolution. We've reworked four classic desserts to slim down their runaway fat and calories, yet they still remain the delicious and beautiful finales they've always been. You can even make these confections to give as gifts -- they're guaranteed to inspire the holiday spirit.


Glazing a cake with melted jam

If the jam you're using has seeds, first press it through a fine-mesh strainer to remove them. Then warm the jam over low heat in a small nonstick saucepan or skillet, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Lightly spread warmed jam on the cooled cake. This glaze also will work on a pan of brownies, a pound cake, even a fruit tart.

Shaping tuile cups

Have ready 3 clean inverted small tumblers with smooth, round bottoms; custard cups; or a teacup with a very small handle. Hot from the oven, drape the soft cookie over each. Gently but firmly press on the tuile to shape it to the cup. (Protect your hand while touching the hot cookie with a folded cotton dish towel, cloth napkin or mitt.) As the cookie cools and hardens, it takes on a cup shape. Do not bake more than 3 cookies at a time because, once baked, the cookies must be shaped quickly before hardening. If cookies become too hard to shape, return cookie sheet to oven to soften cookies slightly.

Quick biscotti

You can eliminate one step by making biscotti into drop cookies. Instead of forming logs as directed at right, drop the batter by rounded teaspoons onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes; switch position of sheets halfway through. Remove from oven and sprinkle cookies with confectioners' sugar. The result: a crisp, chewy cookie that's still the perfect pairing with a cup of tea or a latte. Makes about 3 dozen

Making yogurt cheese

Pour 1 pint of plain lowfat or nonfat yogurt into a fine-mesh strainer. (You also can use a regular mesh strainer lined with a double layer of cheesecloth that has been dampened and squeezed dry). Set strainer over a bowl to catch the liquid and allow to drain in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours. (The longer the yogurt drains, the thicker the cheese.) Remember that when draining the liquid, the volume is cut by about half, so 1 pint of yogurt yields about 1 cup (8 ounces) of yogurt cheese.

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