41. Frangipane Bites Line two 24-cup mini-muffin pans with paper liners. Combine 1 stick softened butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs and 1/3 cup each almond paste and cake flour in a food processor; blend until smooth. Divide among the liners, filling one-third of the way. Press a dried fig or prune into each one and sprinkle with sliced almonds and coarse sugar. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
42. Vanilla Apricots Bring 3 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups water, 3 strips lemon zest and 1 split vanilla bean to a simmer, stirring. Add 3 cups dried apricots; cook 10 minutes. Let cool, then divide among jars.
43. Double-Dipped Strawberries Separately melt 1 cup each semisweet and white chocolate chips. Dip 12 long-stemmed strawberries in one chocolate, then in the other. Chill until firm.
44. Peppermint Stars Beat 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, 1 1/2 tablespoons softened butter, 2 teaspoons milk and 1 teaspoon peppermint extract until smooth. Chill 30 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and roll out until 1/4 inch thick. Cut into stars and freeze until hard. Melt 8 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate with 2 teaspoons shortening in the microwave; let cool to room temperature. Dip the stars in the melted chocolate and sprinkle with nonpareils, if desired. Chill until set.
45. Frosted Candy Canes Melt 1 cup white chocolate chips with 4 teaspoons shortening in the microwave. Dip candy canes in the melted white chocolate, let cool slightly on oiled parchment paper, then roll in colored nonpareils or sprinkles. Let harden.
46. White Chocolate–Peppermint Bark Melt 12 ounces finely chopped white chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in 1 tablespoon melted shortening and 4 ounces chopped white chocolate until smooth. Spread on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 cup chopped peppermint candies. Let harden; break into pieces.
47. Chocolate-Peanut Bark Make White Chocolate–Peppermint Bark (No. 46), replacing the white chocolate with semisweet chocolate. Replace the chopped peppermint candies with 3/4 cup salted roasted peanuts and 1/3 cup raisins.
48. Holiday Party Mix Melt 1 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread with 1/2 stick butter in a large bowl in the microwave at 50 percent power. Stir in 8 cups Chex cereal. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag; add a 1-pound box confectioners’ sugar and shake to coat. Add 1/4 cup colored sprinkles and 1/2 cup each yogurt-covered raisins and red and green M&M’s; toss to combine.
49. Nutty Chocolate Pretzel Wands Dip 12 pretzel rods in 1 cup melted peanut butter. Chill until firm, then dip in 12 ounces melted semisweet chocolate. Drizzle with melted white chocolate or roll in chopped peanuts or nonpareils.
50. Cider Sachets Microwave 1 tablespoon grated orange zest on a paper towel, 3 minutes. Mix with 1 tablespoon each crushed cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons each whole allspice and black peppercorns, and 1 teaspoon whole cloves. Divide among 4 cheesecloth squares; tie with twine to make bundles. Heat each sachet in 1 quart apple cider.
Photograph by James Wojcik