40. Spiced Shortbread
Make Classic Shortbread dough (No. 31), beating 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom with the butter. Pat into a 1/4-inch-thick square on parchment paper, then cut into 1-inch squares and chill 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar and bake 12 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees.
41. Festive Fritters
Cut store-bought pie dough into holiday shapes and fry in 350 degrees vegetable oil until golden. Cool on paper towels and dust with confectioners' sugar.
42. Coconut Macaroons
Whisk 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 beaten egg whites, 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in 2 2/3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut. Drop by tablespoonfuls, then form into pyramids with your fingers and bake 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
43. Cinnamon-Sugar Rolls
Trim store-bought pie dough into a rectangle. Spread with softened butter and sprinkle with a mixture of ground cinnamon and sugar. Roll into a log, then flatten slightly. Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with more sugar and bake 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool, then slice into thin pieces.
Mix 4 cups granulated sugar, 1 cup light corn syrup and 3/4 cup water in a saucepan, then cook over medium heat without stirring until 250 degrees on a candy thermometer. Beat 3 egg whites until firm; drizzle the hot syrup into the whites and beat until stiff. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 cups chopped hazelnuts or pecans. Shape into small balls with buttered hands, then roll in more chopped nuts and cool.
45. Ginger Crackles
Beat 1 1/2 sticks butter, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Add 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup molasses and 2 tablespoons ginger preserves. Whisk 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda, a pinch of pepper, 2 teaspoons ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon each allspice, dry mustard and salt. Stir into the butter mixture and chill 30 minutes. Roll into balls, sprinkle with sugar and bake 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
46. Candy-Cane Meringues
Beat 3 egg whites until frothy. Beat in 3/4 cup superfine sugar and a pinch each of cream of tartar and salt until stiff peaks form. Add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract and swirl in 2 drops red food coloring. Drop by tablespoonfuls and bake about 1 hour at 300 degrees. Turn off the oven and keep meringues inside for 2 hours to dry.
47. Fig Pinwheels
Trim store-bought pie dough into an 8-inch square. Pulse 1 cup dried figs, 1/2 cup pitted dates, a pinch of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, 1 1/2 teaspoons orange juice and 1 tablespoon butter in a food processor. Spread over the dough and roll into a log; chill 30 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices and bake 12 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees.
48. Rice Petits Fours
Melt 3 tablespoons butter and a 10-ounce bag of marshmallows in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in 6 cups crispy rice cereal. Press into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread with 12 ounces melted bittersweet chocolate and sprinkle with nonpareils, then let harden. Cut into small squares.
Cut store-bought pie dough into 16 wedges (like a pizza). Starting from the tip, spread apricot jam over the top two-thirds of each wedge; sprinkle with chopped pecans. Roll from the fat end in to form a crescent shape. Brush with beaten egg and chill 30 minutes. Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 325 degrees.
50. Rum Balls
Mix 1 cup melted semisweet chocolate chips, 20 ground chocolate wafers, 1/2 cup finely chopped prunes, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup rum and 1/4 cup condensed milk. Chill until firm, then shape into small balls. Roll in coarse decorating sugar.
Photographs by Karl Juengel