Some Favorite Holiday recipes

The holidays are a time of gathering together and rejoicing around a table decked out in festive dinnerware and holiday foods.

The Decadent yet Incredible Simple Baked Brie

This is one of the party recipes to add to your repertoire. Though this recipe is incredible simple to put together it delivers a scandalously rich treat.

You will need:

1 sheet of thawed puff pastry

a wheel of Brie cheese in the 8- to 12-ounce range.

(You can use a larger wheel but you will then need 2 sheets of puff pastry.)

Jam (The French raspberry preserve by Bonne Maman works very well.)

1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400°F Dust a work surface with flour. Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll the puff pastry until it measures roughly 11 inches by 11 inches.

Set the Brie in the center of the pastry and top with a couple spoons of jam. Fold the corners over the Brie, gently pressing the edges to form a neat package. Transfer the wrapped Brie to the baking sheet or pie plate. Brush with egg and bake until golden-brown. 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve warm so that cheese remains gooey.

Another easy family favorite

Cream Cheese Brownies

You will need:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces
12 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate chopped
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups cake flour
18 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounce package Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter with chocolate in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from pan and whisk in eggs, 1 at a time. In a separate bowl, sift together flour cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Stir flour mixture into the egg batter until incorporated. Spread batter into a greased 13x9-inch baking pan.Top with Cream Cheese mixture. Take a knife and cut through batter several times for marbled effect. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cream cheese mixture is lightly browned. Cool cut into squares.

Cast Iron Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

You will need:

1 cast iron skillet

6 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 6 pieces

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped coarse

2/3 cup (2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup packed (2 1/3 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

1 cup brewed coffee

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter, chocolate, and 1/3 cup cocoa together in 10-inch cast-iron skillet over low heat, stirring often, until smooth, 2 to 4 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. In separate bowl, whisk brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup cocoa together, breaking up any large clumps of brown sugar with fingers. In third bowl, combine coffee and water. Whisk milk, vanilla, egg yolk, and remaining 2/3 cup granulated sugar into cooled chocolate mixture. Whisk in flour mixture until just combined. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over top, covering entire surface of batter. Pour coffee mixture gently over brown sugar mixture. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cake is puffed and bubbling and just beginning to pull away from sides of skillet, about 35 minutes, rotating skillet halfway through baking. Using potholders, transfer skillet to wire rack and let cake cool for 15 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Apple Cake

You will need:

2 medium apples, peeled and sliced

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature

2 egg, beaten

1 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish with or pie pan with a 4-cup capacity. In small bowl, mix brown sugar with the cinnamon, set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat in the egg until blended. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk, beating after each addition until just combined. Pour about 1/3 of the batter into the bottom of the baking dish. Press the apple slices into the batter so they just cover the batter (you may have to overlap some slices). Sprinkle the apples with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, reserving a teaspoon or two to sprinkle on top. Spread the rest of the batter over the apples. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar on top. Bake the cake for 35 minutes or until it is golden brown and apples start to bubble at the edges.

Pear Almond Tart

You will need:

3 poached pears

For the crust:

1/3 cup sugar

5 Tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup almond flour or finely ground almonds

1 cup flour

For the filling:

3 Tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 large eggs

3/4 cup almond flour or finely ground almonds

1 Tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Beat together the sugar, butter, salt, and flavorings. Stir in flours. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a tart pan. Bake it until it's just beginning to brown on the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let cool.

To make the filling: Mix together the butter, salt, sugar, flour, and almond extract. Beat in the eggs. Stir in almond flour, mixing only until combined. Pour filling into tart crust. Slice the pear halves and fan them over the batter. Bake the tart for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving.