In 1985, Cafe Latte in Saint Paul created the Turtle Cake that's still on the menu today. It's a moist, rich, three-layer wonder. The cake layers are dark chocolate frosted with rich fudge and caramel and topped with a generous garnish of giant pecans.
The day before you serve this layered dip, prepare the tomato mixture, hummus and tapenade. Cover and refrigerate separately until you're ready to layer and serve the dip. To save time, use purchased hummus.
Cheer the holidays with bold Blue Blue Christmas Cocktail -- a combination of vodka or rum, white cranberry juice, blue curacao and lime juice. Or offer guests Cranberry-Raspberry Spritz, which includes a make-ahead syrup base (enough for 80 servings!) and either champagne, carbonated water or lemon-lime carbonated beverage.
This flan ranks among our best taste panel has ever tried. It takes some effort to prepare the make-ahead specialty from Chicago's National 27, but it's worth it. The restaurant uses coffee extract; we substituted strong coffee.
A bright spot in the middle of the Michigan winter is Purim, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the triumph of Persian Jews over the wicked nobleman Haman. Purim brings hamantaschen, the traditional, three-cornered pastry pocket stiffed with sweet filing. It's one of the best of Jewish sweets. The recipe comes from Zingerman's in Anne Arbor.
If you don't have a cookie press, you can form the dough for our cookies into 1-1/2-inch balls, then flatten them to 1/3- to 1/2-inch thickness on baking sheets with a fork, making a crosshatch design. Dip these elegant cookies in semisweet chocolate and crushed peppermint.
Choose your favorite dried fruit to pair with apples for this double-crust pie. Present the cooled pie on a bigger pie plate full of gumdrops for a festive look. Change the color of the gumdrops (or try a different candy) for different seasons!
These melt-in-your-mouth cookies come from the recipe file of Georgia Morehouse of Columbia, Missouri. Her family insists she bake at least one batch for New Year's Eve. Sprinkle them with colored sugar right before they bake to give them quick-and-easy sparkle.
"I first enjoyed this at a church circle meeting. Rosemary has since moved from Columbia, but I think of her every time I serve this," says Georgia Morehouse of Columbia, Missouri, who bakes it for New Year's Eve.
Freeze a base of ice cream, butter, sugar and spices, then combine with rum and boiling water when you're ready to serve our Hot Buttered Rum. You can freeze the base for up to three months -- almost long enough to last through a Midwest winter!
Pear nectar, honey, an orange and spices flavor easy-to-make Spiced Pear Tea.
For a pretty party presentation: Press thin slices of fruit (such as kiwi fruit, strawberries, oranges, seedless grapes and/or maraschino cherries) against the sides of 6- to 10-ounce rocks glasses. Cover and place in freezer. Check after 20 to 30 minutes and replace any fruit that has fallen off the sides of the glasses. Freeze for 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve add a little ice and your favorite clear carbonated beverage. If you want to add a little color, drizzle some grenadine over the top.