Easy desserts ease cooks into the holiday season


Last updated 10/27/2006 at Noon

All cooks have calculating cerebral calendars. We know that shortly after July Fourth there are brief stops at Labor Day, Columbus Day and Halloween before the Major League Cooking of Thanksgiving and Christmas. And it seems to go just about that f-a-s-t!

There are several ways to handle this situation. Leave town, detailed strategy of color-coded planning or a decision to aim for a happy, not perfect, holiday season. For some years now, I’ve gone the latter route, having tried the other ways with various levels of success.

For dessert I usually stay with the tried and true.

However, Roxie Kelley may change my status quo this year. I am hooked on some of her recipes! Roxie is the author of “Keeping Good Company” and several other cookbooks. You were treated to a review of these books a few weeks ago.

Roxie and I have become “pen pals” with a special shared love of food, family and friends. She forwarded another of her books, “Goodness Gracious,” and from this I’ve selected these desserts that seem perfect for the coming holidays. Simple, easy, satisfying… what more could a cook want?

For information about how to obtain Roxie’s cookbooks, you can contact her at http://www.keepinggoodcompany.com or phone (573) 302-1110.

Doesn’t a tray of pumpkin cheesecake tarts seem like an ideal offering for a fall buffet, a multi-generational pot luck or even a committee meeting at church? The simplicity and rich flavor make this dessert a hostess’s dream. In her book Roxie suggests that for a “fun presentation, place a layer of paper fall leaves on the serving platter under the tarts.”

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts

(Goodness Gracious Cookbook)

12 paper muffin cup liners

12 gingersnap cookies

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 cup solid-pack pumpkin

½ cup sugar

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place muffin cup liners in a muffin tin. Place a gingersnap cookie in the bottom of each liner. Beat cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Add the eggs and beat well. Divide the batter equally among the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until set. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from the pan and chill before serving. Makes 12 servings.

Four-ingredient recipes are popular these days. Few will compete with this layered chocolate and cheesecake bar.

Myra’s Rich Chocolate Chip Cheese Bars

2 cups chocolate chip cookie dough

(or 18-oz. package refrigerated dough)

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup sugar

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Press half the cookie dough in the bottom of an 8-inch square pan. Beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth. Spread over the cookie dough. Sprinkle the remaining cookie dough over the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve chilled. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Roxie writes that Vonda Higbee is a treasured friend and a Keeping Good Company staff member who shared this quick and easy recipe.

Vonda’s Lemon Custard Cake

1 prepared angel food cake

1 (3.4-oz.) package instant lemon pudding mix

1 ½ cups cold milk

1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream

1 (21-oz.) can cheese or strawberry pie filling

Tear the angel food cake into bite-sized pieces. Place the pieces in a 9x13-inch pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine the pudding mix, milk and sour cream. Beat until thickened, about 2 minutes. Spread over the cake pieces. Spoon the pie filling on top and chill until serving time. Yields about 12 servings.

Grandma Margie is not Roxie’s grandmother. She is the daughter of Marcheta, Roxie’s friend. Still, everyone in town refers to her as Grandma Margie.

Grandma Margie’s Cherry Dessert


3 cups graham cracker crumbs

½ cup sugar

4 tbsp. butter or margarine


1 ( 8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

2 (14-oz.) sweetened condensed milk

Juice of one lemon


1 (21-oz.) can cheese pie filling

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle the sugar over this and then slice the butter over the top of all this. Bake until the butter has melted and the crust is light brown. Stir with a fork and spread out evenly. Let cool.

Mix the filling ingredients together until thickened and spread on to the cooled crust. Refrigerate until filling is chilled. Spread the topping evenly over all and serve. Serves 12.

“I love to prepare this with young children who are leaving the basics in the kitchen since it doesn’t require a hot oven or sharp knives,” Roxie says.

Heavenly Hash Cake

12 oz. chocolate chips

1 )8 oz.) container of Cool Whip or

another whipped topping of your choice

1 cup pecans

1 small jar marshmallow cream ice cream topping

1 large prepared angel food cake torn into pieces

Melt the chocolate chips in a heavy glass measuring cup in the microwave, stirring every minute for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Don’t overcook. Stir the pecans into the chocolate. Fold in the whipped toppings. Spray a large glass baking dish with vegetable oil and then arrange the angel food cake pieces over the bottom of the dish. Spread the chocolate mixture gently over the cake pieces and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving. Serves 10-12.

My husband loves cookies and over the years has been willing to learn how to make them. Recently he asked that I teach him how to make oatmeal cookies for one single reason: he wanted to eat them. So, we looked at several recipes, decided on one recipe that he would try.

There was only one problem. It only make 4 dozen cookies. He said that was not enough. So, I suggested that we modify the recipe to make more…and eliminate the task of dropping the cookies onto a cookie sheet by making them in a jelly-roll-like pan. It worked.

I am happy to say that he shared some of the cookies.

Bob’s Oatmeal Nut Bar Cookies

1 ½ cups butter, softened

1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar

¾ cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 ½ tsp. vanilla2 ¼ cups flour

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

4 ½ cups oat meal (quick or old fashioned) uncooked

1 ½ cups chopped nuts

Frosting as desired

Beat butter and sugars together until cream. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to creamed egg mixture. Stir in oats, then nuts.

Line a 12 ½ inch x 17-inch baking pan with sides with heavy duty foil. Spread mixture evening into foil-lined pan.

Bake in a 350-degree oven until cookies has risen and a light golden brown. Take care not to over bake. Cool on rack 2 minutes. Carefully remove foil from pan. Cut cookies into bars and remove to cooling racks. Place racks over waxed paper and drizzle with a thin confectioners’ sugar frosting if desired. Makes about 7-8 doz. Small bar cookies.


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