With the holiday season here, it's time to stock up with ingredients for a few special microwave treats. Chocolate chips, nuts, candied cherries and a touch of liquor for flavoring add festivity to many desserts.
As a delicious and easy substitute for fruitcake, try the recipe for Fudge Rum Fruit Bars that follows. They're like brownies that have been dressed up with nuts, cherries and chunky chocolate chips. The bars are flavored with rum for the holidays and finished with an easy chocolate glaze. They look so elegant that no one will guess the dessert is "baked" in just eight to 12 minutes.
To remove the chocolate fruit bars to a cutting board where they can be easily sliced into neat squares, line the bottom of the dish with a single layer of white paper towels. The toweling absorbs excess moisture at the bottom of the dish and easily peels off later, leaving a smooth dry surface for the glaze.
As another holiday response, consider an elegant microwave pie, resplendent with chocolate crust and chocolate chip, coconut and pecan filling. Like all microwave pies, this one has a separately cooked crust into which you pour the filling for further microwaving. Microwaved pie crusts are delicious and flaky and take only six to eight minutes to cook.
If you wish, you can microwave the crust one day, then stir together the filling and finish microwaving the pie the next. For overnight storage of the microwaved crust, cool it, then cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature. A festive touch of bourbon accents the filling of this pie, and bourbon-tinged whipped cream provides a spirited garnish.
Like many rich and delicious desserts, Chocolate Chip Coconut Pecan Pie is a year-round recipe that's worth the special effort for happy get-togethers.
FUDGE RUM FRUIT BARS
10 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered cocoa
1 cup (4 ounces) red candied cherries
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 cup powdered sugar
Water or dark rum
Place butter in 2-quart microwave casserole or bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100% power) 1 to 2 minutes, until melted. Stir in sugar, then blend in eggs and rum. Add flour, baking powder, salt and 1/2 cup cocoa. Stir in the cherries, nuts and chocolate pieces. Line bottom of 8-inch square dish with single layer of white paper towels. Pour batter over towels and spread evenly in dish. Microwave at HIGH, rotating 1/4 turn every 2 minutes, 8 to 12 minutes, until center is set and top has lost its glossy look. To cool, place directly on heat-proof countertop or wooden board (not on cooling rack).
Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine powdered sugar and remaining cocoa. Gradually stir in enough water to make spreadable glaze, about 3 tablespoons, beating until smooth.
When bars completely cool, run knife around edges to loosen, then invert onto cutting board or serving plate. Peel off paper towels then frost with chocolate glaze. When glaze is set, cut into bars. Makes about 16 bars.
Note: Paper towel can be omitted. Bake batter in greased dish. Serve from dish.
CHOCOLATE CHIP-COCONUT-PECAN PIE
1 1/2 cups unsifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons powdered cocoa
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons ice water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1 tablespoon bourbon or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked coconut
Sweetened whipped cream
In small bowl combine 1 cup flour, salt, cocoa and 1/3 cup sugar. With pastry blender, cut in shortening until mixture resembles peas. Sprinkle water over mixture and stir dough with fork until it forms ball. Roll out pastry on floured pastry cloth or board to 1/8-inch thickness then transfer to 9-inch microwave-safe pie plate, shaping to fit edge of plate.
Pierce with fork, then microwave at HIGH (100% power) 6 to 8 minutes, rotating plate 1/2 turn, if necessary, every 3 minutes. When done, pastry will look dry in all areas.
In large mixing bowl, combine eggs, remaining flour and sugar, butter, 1/2 cup pecans, 1/2 cup chocolate pieces, bourbon and coconut. Mix well then pour into crust. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup chocolate pieces and 1/2 cup pecans. Microwave at MEDIUM (50% power) 11 to 15 minutes, rotating plate 1/2 turn every 5 minutes, if necessary. When done, pie will look set. Cool to room temperature before serving.
Stir bourbon into whipped cream to taste and serve with pie, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.