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Santa's Helpers Bake Gifts

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Merry Munchies
'Cot Pops
Snowy Brownie Stars
Santa's Snickerdoodles with Raisins

(Family Features) - Celebrate the season by baking with your children and turn those Santa's helpers into givers at the same time. Holiday treats, lovingly prepared by little hands, are wonderful gifts for family and friends, and they make parties special.

Baking with kids builds warm holiday memories, especially when you plan ahead. Favorite recipes simply dressed up keep the process kid friendly. Brownies studded with sweet raisins, cut into stars and stacked three high, make a simple holiday tree. A dab of canned frosting will keep the stars in place. Most cookies can be stored in the freezer for up to one month, so plan your holiday baking at a time when both adults and children can relax, have fun and enjoy the experience.

Once the baking is done make sure gift recipients and guests know that the kids made the cookies. Tuck copies of the recipes inside kid-decorated boxes, or hand out copies at the party.

Let your kids select family or friends to receive the treats, and encourage them to look for others who might be in need of holiday cheer, such as an elderly neighbor or a military family where Mom or Dad may not be home for the holidays.

Boxing It Up

The family baking experience doesn't need to stop when the cookies come out of the oven. Package the homemade goodies in holiday finery. Buy plain white boxes and have the kids personalize them using markers and stickers, a personal touch sure to delight both giver and receiver. If your child especially enjoys crafts, encourage him or her to make a box using an origami folding pattern found online. Or colorful tins are available at discount or craft stores. Remember to line your boxes with parchment paper before putting the goodies inside. For cookie recipes visit www.SunMaid.com.

Merry Munchies

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup Sun-Maid Fruit Bits or Goldens & Cherries
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    1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheets.
    2. COMBINE butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla; beat until well blended.
    3. COMBINE flour, baking powder and salt.
    4. ADD to butter mixture; mix well.
    5. STIR in walnuts and dried fruit.
    6. DROP by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets.
    7. BAKE 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets; cool on wire racks.

Makes 3 dozen cookies
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'Cot Pops

  • 1 (7-ounce) package Sun-Maid Mediterranean Apricots
  • 28 pretzel sticks about 4 inches long and 3/8 inch thick
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet baking morsels) or white baking pieces, or 1/2 cup each
  • Cookie sprinkles, holiday colors

    1. PLACE piece of wax paper or plastic wrap on cookie sheet and set aside.
    2. PUSH a pretzel stick into small opening on edge of each apricot.
    3. PUT chocolate in microwave-safe bowl, or separate bowls for each type of chocolate. Heat on medium power (50%) about 2 minutes. Stir until melted.
    4. HOLD end of pretzels and dip apricots, one at a time, into chocolate.
    5. DECORATE each 'Cot Pop right after dipping:
    6. Sprinkle with cookie sprinkles.
    7. If you have chocolate and white melted mixtures, dip a toothpick in contrasting color to drizzle stripes, doodles or designs.
    8. PLACE finished 'Cot Pops on cookie sheet. Refrigerate 10 minutes until chocolate is set.
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Makes about 28 pops

Snowy Brownie Stars

  • 3 ounces (3 squares) unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup (1 package) Sun-Maid Baking Raisins
  • Powdered sugar
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    1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch-square baking pan.
    2. COMBINE chocolate and butter in large saucepan, over very low heat; heat just until melted, stirring occasionally.
    3. REMOVE from heat.
    4. STIR in sugar; mix well.
    5. ADD eggs and vanilla; blend well.
    6. STIR in flour, then walnuts (if desired) and raisins, mixing well.
    7. SPREAD in greased pan.
    8. BAKE 40 minutes.
    9. COOL in pan; use medium cookie cutter to cut into star shapes. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with icing. Or create simple tree by dabbing brownies with icing and stacking. Decorate as desired.
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Makes 20 stars

Santa's Snickerdoodles with Raisins

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups Sun-Maid Natural Raisins
Cinnamon Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
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    1. HEAT oven to 375°F. Grease cookie sheets.
    2. COMBINE butter and 1-1/2 cups sugar; beat until light and fluffy.
    3. ADD eggs; blend well.
    4. COMBINE flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
    5. ADD to butter mixture; mix well.
    6. STIR in raisins.
    7. SHAPE dough into 1-inch balls.
    8. MIX 2 tablespoons sugar with cinnamon; roll balls in mixture to coat.
    9. PLACE 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets.
    10. BAKE in upper third of oven 10 to 12 minutes. (Do not overbake.)
    11. COOL 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Cool on wire racks.

Makes 3-1/2 dozen cookies

SOURCE: Sun-Maid Growers of California

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