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Tiny sweets make great holiday treats

Recipe Swap: Drops, squares, bars and dainties are perfect small-portion desserts

Keep your eye on portion sizes, because it’s often not what, but how much we eat that makes the difference.

That’s such sensible advice and so hard to heed, especially over Christmas, with so many opportunities to overindulge.

But there is one holiday treat guaranteed to pack a wallop of pleasure without excessive calories. It is that tiny, edible ‘objet d’art’ called the square, also endearingly known as the dainty. These delicious little morsels are desserts for the discriminating eater, someone who can savour a two-bite treat, feel genuinely satisfied and resist reaching for more.

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One of my favourite cookbooks is 150 Delicious Squares written by iconic Alberta cookbook author Jean Paré. This was Ms. Paré’s first cookbook, published in 1981 and the debut of Company’s Coming, one of the world’s most popular cookbook series.

From her Chocolate Smacks to her Orange Coconut Chews, all the recipes for drops, slices, bars and squares in this particular collection are richly indulgent. Yet, they are also elegantly tiny, and many contain no more than 100 calories apiece.

They are the perfect small-portion dessert when eaten sparingly, of course. Squares, drops and slices were never meant to be wolfed down nor eaten while alone. They’re for sharing. They’re for when company’s coming.

Here are three recipes courtesy of Company’s Coming Publishing taken from 150 Delicious Squares sure to please your holiday guests. If you’d like to check out more recipes please log on to companyscoming.com.

Magic Bars

magic bars

Magic Bars, from “150 Delicious Squares Company’s Coming”
photo: 150 Delicious Squares Company’s Coming

A simple trick that’s quite amazing.

  • 1/2 c. butter (or hard margarine), melted
  • 1-1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 11-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-1/3 c. flaked coconut
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Spread melted butter evenly in 9×13-inch pan. Sprinkle with graham crumbs.

Drop teaspoonfuls of condensed milk, in dabs here and there, over crumb mixture. Spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining three ingredients, in order given, over condensed milk. Press down gently. Bake in 350 F oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Let stand in pan on wire rack until cool. Cut into 36 squares.

Variation: Reduce chocolate chips to 1/2 cup. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup butterscotch chips after chocolate chips.

1 square: 83 calories; 5.3 g total fat (1.1 g mono, 1.2 g poly, 2.6 g sat); 6 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; trace fibre; 1 g protein; 38 mg sodium.

Chocolate Orange Drops

Chocolate Orange Drops

Chocolate Orange Drops
photo: 150 Delicious Squares Company’s Coming

Orange and chocolate go great together, and are a popular treat at Christmas time. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

  • 1/2 c. butter (or hard margarine), softened
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c. icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 tbsp. grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add egg and icing sugar. Beat until smooth. Add orange zest and vanilla. Stir. Combine next three ingredients in small bowl. Add to cream cheese mixture. Stir. Spread evenly in greased 9×9-inch pan. Bake in 350 F oven for 25 to 30 minutes until set. Let stand in pan on wire rack until cool.

Beat next three ingredients in small bowl until smooth, adding more orange juice or icing sugar as necessary until spreading consistency. Spread evenly over cream cheese layer. Cut into 36 squares.

Icing:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp. frozen concentrated orange juice, thawed
  • 1-1/2 c. icing (confectioner’s) sugar

1 square: 107 calories; 6.2 g total fat (1.1 g mono, 0.1 g poly, 3.9 g sat); 19 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrate; trace fibre; 1 g protein; 74 mg sodium.

Fruit Marmalade Squares

Fruit Marmalade Squares

Fruit Marmalade Squares
photo: 150 Delicious Squares Company’s Coming

This is a glistening, fruity bar. Watch that you don’t overcook it or it will be too chewy.

Bottom layer:

  • 1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. butter (or hard margarine), softened
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk (large)

Mix all four ingredients in medium bowl until crumbly. Press firmly into ungreased 9×9-inch pan. Bake in 350 F oven for 15 minutes.

Top layer:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 c. marmalade
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 3/4 c. chopped pitted dates
  • 3/4 c. raisins (or currants)
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 18 red and green glazed cherries, halved

Beat egg until frothy in large bowl. Add marmalade and milk. Beat well.

Add next four ingredients. Stir. Spread evenly over bottom layer. Bake for about 25 minutes, until set. Immediately press cherry halves onto hot fruit mixture, about 1-1/2 inches apart. Let stand in pan on wire rack until cool. Cut into 36 squares.

1 square: 96 calories; 3.9 g total fat (0.9 g mono, 0.9 g poly, 2 g sat); 18 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrate; 1 g fibre; 1 g protein; 25 mg sodium.

All recipes above courtesy of 150 Delicious Squares© Company’s Coming Publishing Limited

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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