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Treats That Go Better With Nuts : Adding Something Special (and Healthful) to Your Christmas Goodies

December 19, 1985|TONI TIPTON

Crunchy, sweet nuts can add nutrients to the season's treats. They are rich in protein, and many contain substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals as well. Almonds, for instance, are a good source of riboflavin, Vitamin E and nutrients like magnesium and phosphorus. Pistachios are high in thiamine and phosphorous.

The nutcracker, an integral part of nut cookery, has a long history dating back to prehistoric times when primitive man faced the challenge of cracking nuts between rocks. Since then, nutcrackers have taken on many forms with walnuts being among the first subjected to efforts to create an effective cracking instrument. Nutcracker characters came into being in the 1700s, when a German family began re-creating characters from their own history--kings, guardsmen and foresters. These colorful figurines inspired the popular Christmas fairy tale "The Nutcracker and the King of Mice," from which Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky derived his ballet, "The Nutcracker."

In the story, a nutcracker in the shape of a wooden soldier comes to life, leads toy soldiers to victory against invading mice, then turns into a handsome prince and whisks one of the children away to the Kingdom of Sweets, where she is entertained by the immortal dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Share this holiday fantasy with family and friends and serve these special holiday sweets featuring some nut varieties at your Christmas celebration. SANTA'S WALNUT HELPERS

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon water

Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, sour cream and cinnamon in bowl until smooth. Stir in nuts and set aside.

Cream butter and remaining 1 cup brown sugar together in bowl. Add egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt. On low speed, gradually add dry ingredients, beating just until smooth. Divide dough into 12 equal parts. Roll into balls and place 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.

With fingertips, make wide, round depression in center of each cookie, reaching almost to edges and leaving rim. Fill depressions with topping, mounding fairly high above rims. Bake at 350 degrees 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is set. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Combine powdered sugar and water until smooth. Drizzle over rims of cookies. Makes about 6 servings of 2 cookies each.

PER SERVING: 710 calories; 9 gm protein; 101 gm carbohydrate; 32 gm fat; 400 mg sodium; 352 mg potassium.


Protein 14% Riboflavin 15% Vitamin A 16% Niacin 14% Vitamin C 01% Calcium 09% Thiamine 25% Iron 22%


1 cup butter, softened

3/4 sifted powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

1 cup ground walnuts

Cream together butter and powdered sugar in mixer bowl. Beat in lemon peel, vanilla and salt. Combine flour and nuts and stir into creamed mixture, mixing to blend thoroughly.

Press dough evenly into 15x10-inch jellyroll pan. Bake at 325 degrees 25 to 30 minutes or just until shortbread begins to brown. Cut into 2-inch squares while warm. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container. Makes 36 servings of 1 square each.

PER SERVING: 95 calories; 1 gm protein; 8 gm carbohydrate; 7 gm fat; 92 mg sodium; 19 mg potassium.


Protein 02% Riboflavin 02% Vitamin A 04% Niacin 02% Vitamin C 00% Calcium 00% Thiamine 04% Iron 02%


1 cup flour

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup butter, frozen, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon cold water

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup sliced almonds

Place flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, butter, water and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in food processor bowl. Process with on and off motion until mixture forms ball. Press into 9-inch tart pan, being careful there are no holes or tears. Chill.

Line tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights or rice. Bake on lowest oven shelf at 400 degrees 8 minutes. Remove foil and bake 3 to 4 minutes or until pastry is set. Cool.

Combine remaining 3/4 cup sugar, whipping cream, orange peel, remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and almond extract. Stir in almonds, then let stand 15 minutes. Pour into cooled shell. Bake on middle oven rack at 400 degrees 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Cool. Makes 8 servings.

PER SERVING: 366 calories; 4 gm protein; 36 gm carbohydrate; 24 gm fat; 146 mg sodium; 126 mg potassium.


Protein 07% Riboflavin 11% Vitamin A 14% Niacin 07% Vitamin C 01% Calcium 04% Thiamine 09% Iron 06%


3/4 cup butter

1 2/3 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup sour cream

2 cups flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

Almond Butter-Cream Frosting

1 cup toasted sliced almonds

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