Who has time to bake this week?
For the final installment of this year's Cookie Corner, I wanted a festive recipe that wouldn't take much time. I found this one among several cookie recipes from the Associated Press that were inspired by other classic desserts. The truffle squares technically are not cookies, but they are great treats for a holiday buffet or potluck. The red and green bits enrobed in white are so pretty.
Once the pistachios are shelled (much easier process than hazelnuts), it takes just 15 minutes to put together. Hooray!
Spumoni truffle squares
Prep time: 15 minutes
Chill time: 2 hours
Makes 64 squares
Alison Ladman of the Associated Press created this recipe, based on the flavors of spumoni ice cream.
Two 12-ounce bags white baking bits
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pistachio meats, lightly chopped (can be salted or unsalted)
1 cup dried tart cherries, lightly chopped
1/2 cup (or more) cup mini chocolate chips
Coat a 9-by-9-inch pan with cooking spray. Line with waxed or parchment paper, allowing excess to overhang the edges of the pan.
In a medium saucepan over medium-low, combine the white baking bits and sweetened condensed milk. Heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla, pistachios and cherries. Transfer to the prepared pan. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over the top. Refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours.
Using the overhanging edges of the waxed or parchment paper to help, lift the truffle square out of the pan. Trim any uneven edges, then cut into 1-inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Per square: 100 calories; 45 calories from fat (45 percent of total calories); 5 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 5 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 1 g fiber; 20 mg sodium.
TESTING AND TASTING
I used an 8-by-8-inch pan, which made the squares a little taller, showing off those pretty green and red bits.
An 8-ounce bag of pistachios in the shell yielded exactly 1 cup of nutmeats. You can use unsalted nuts, but the salted ones offer a nice contrast to all the sugar in this recipe.
Let the chilled square soften slightly before trying to cut it.
Most of the mini chocolate chips fell off almost immediately when I started to cut up the chilled square. To keep them on better, you might press them down into the still-warm mixture before chilling, or let them melt a bit before chilling.
The white chips and sweetened condensed milk are a very rich, sweet combination. Next time I make this I plan to replace some of the vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon) with orange extract to cut the sweetness.
The festive little squares got a lot of attention at our newsroom holiday potluck. "That looks like a photo shoot," one editor said. Other folks had these reactions: "Ooo, rich"; "Sweet, but the cherries cut through the sweetness"; "I'd make these with all pistachios"; "More, please."