Desserts in holiday gift catalogues always look tempting. But their prices can be hard to swallow. The solution? Make the desserts at home.
What follows are recipes for some of the desserts available in this year's crop of mail-order gift catalogues. Some are recipes directly from mail-order companies, one comes from a local restaurant, and the rest are facsimiles of catalogue desserts developed in The Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen. All make delicious gifts.
Be sure to prepare the more perishable desserts at the last minute. The Gift Catalogue Strudel made with apples and ricotta cheese should be made no sooner than one day before giving. The Lemon Cake, Gift Carrot Cake, Chocolate Fudge Cake and Macadamia Nut Bread all store well in the refrigerator for about a week.
There are a few things to remember if you're mailing the desserts. The obvious: Be sure to allow plenty of time for mailing cakes cross-country--especially during the holidays. The post office has delivery schedules you can check to calculate how many days your package will spend in transit. Using the proper mailing container is essential for on-time delivery. Tins are best for cookies. Heavy boxes will probably do fine for firm cakes. Perishable desserts such as strudel should be packed apropriately with dry ice and sent through a next-day delivery service. If in doubt about the proper packing equipment, leave the packing to a professional.
LEMON GLAZE CAKE (Facsimile)
1 (1-pound, 2.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3 1/2-ounce) package instant lemon pudding mix
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
Combine yellow cake and lemon pudding mixes with eggs, oil and water. Mix well 2 to 3 minutes with mixer. Turn into ungreased (12-cup) bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees 40 to 50 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. (Cover with foil if cake is getting too browned. Remove from oven.
While warm, pierce surface of cake with tines of fork and pour Lemon Icing evenly over cake. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
1/2 (1-pound) box powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine
1 tablespoon water
Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, melted butter and water and beat with mixer until smooth. Pour over cake while still warm.
Orange Glaze Cake:
Use orange pudding mix in place of lemon pudding mix and orange icing instead of lemon icing, using orange juice in place of lemon juice.
SOFT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (Facsimile)
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate pieces
1 (4-ounce) bar milk chocolate, grated
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well.
Mix together flour, oats, salt, baking powder and soda. Place small amounts in blender and process until mixture turns into powder.
Mix butter-egg mixture with flour mixture until just blended. Add chocolate pieces, milk chocolate and nuts. Roll into balls about size of golf ball and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees 12 minutes. Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies.
MACADAMIA NUT BREAD (Facsimile)
3 cups coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks, very well drained
1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flake coconut
3/4 cup sifted flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Place nuts, pineapple and coconut in large bowl. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in sifter and sift over nut mixture. Mix until nuts and fruit are completely coated with flour.
Beat eggs until foamy, then add vanilla. Stir in nut mixture. Spoon into greased wax paper-lined 8x4-inch loaf pan. Bake at 300 degrees 50 minutes or until bread tests done with wood pick. (Cover with foil if cake is browning too fast.) Remove from pan and cool completely, When cool, wrap in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate. Makes 1 loaf.
CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE (Pillsbury's Tunnel of Fudge Cake)
1 3/4 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups chopped walnuts
Cream butter and granulated sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add powdered sugar, blending well. By hand, stir in flour, cocoa powder and walnuts until well blended.
Spoon batter into greased and floured 12-cup bundt pan or 10-inch angel-food tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees 58 to 60 minutes. Cool upright in pan on cooling rack 1 hour. Invert onto serving plate. Cool completely. Spoon Glaze over top of cake, allowing some to run down sides. Makes 16 servings.