Food for Thought: Christmas Desserts

Easy Apple Tart

Serves 3-4 Time: 40-60 Minutes

This tart is a simple fix for dessert! With minimal ingredients, it lets the fresh apples shine through! Not too sweet and just elegant enough to serve at a holiday dinner! Top with vanilla ice cream or caramel sauce for an extra touch of goodness. 


1 package of puff pastry, keep frozen until ready to use

4 large apples, Granny Smith or Gala work best, any tart apple will do

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

1 tablespoon butter

Sprinkle of salt

Sprinkle of fresh lemon zest


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Wash and core apples, leaving the skin on. Slice in half and then slice thin pieces, less than a quarter of an inch thick. 
  3. Unwrap puff pastry and cut into three long pieces, should be along the fold.
  4. Layer apple slices directly on the pastry, overlapping each so they lay on top of each other by half. Distribute the apples evenly on all three sheets of pastry
  5. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly on all the pastry, followed by the brown sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Top each pastry with a dotting of butter, evenly distributed along the top. 
  6. Bake about 40 minutes, juice will start to bubble along the bottom of the pastry, bake until this evaporate. Check the bottom of the pastry at the 30-minute mark for over-browning. Move to a higher rack if this occurs. 
  7. When brown and puffed, cool on a wire-rack and serve immediately. 
  8. Refrigerate leftover and reheat in oven. 



Candied Pecans and Cranberries

Makes 5 cups   Time: 2 Hours

These candied pecans are a childhood favorite of mine! I have such good memories of making these with my mom at Christmas time, packing them up, and delivering them to neighbors and friends. They keep forever if sealed tight, but I guarantee they won’t last long. They are addicting!


3 ½ to 4 cups of pecan halves

1 ½ cups of dried cranberries

¼ cup light corn syrup

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon baking soda


  1. Combine all ingredients except for pecans and cranberries in a microwave-safe bowl
  2. Heat to a boil in the microwave for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds
  3. Add the pecans to the mixture and toss until evenly coated
  4. Spread out the mixture on a greased 9 by 13 baking sheet
  5. Bake pecans at 250 degrees F for 1 hour, stirring halfway through bake time
  6. Cool the mixture completely and toss in cranberries
  7. Store in an air-tight container, lasts several weeks on the counter


Oreo Truffles

Makes about 40     Prep Time: 20 minutes   Chill Time: 1 Hour

Another childhood favorite of mine! There is nothing more decadent and delicious than Oreos and cream cheese. Great for an easy gift or a treat for Santa!


1, 16-ounce package of regular Oreos

1, 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened 

2, 8-ounce packages of semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted


  1. Crush cookies to a fine crumb, use a zip-tight bag and a rolling pin or a food processor. Add softened cream cheese and mix until thoroughly combined. Scoop mixture into tablespoon servings and roll into balls. 
  2. Dip each truffle into the melted chocolate, which can be easily done with two forks. Place on a wax-paper-covered baking sheet. 
  3. Store in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour. Keep cold until ready to serve and refrigerate leftovers. 


Pecan Pie Bark

Serves 18      Time: 20 minutes

This bark is an addictive, simple candy that makes a great gift! Buttery, crunchy, and reminiscent of the fan-favorite pecan pie!


12 sheets of graham crackers

1 cup of unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar, packed

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups pecans, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with tin-foil sprayed with oil.
  2. Line up the graham crackers tightly on the baking sheet, try to not leave any gaps
  3. Combine butter, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. 
  4. Add the pecans to the boiling mixture and stir constantly for 30 more seconds. Stir in the vanilla extract. 
  5. Pour the pecan mixture onto the graham crackers. 
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until bubbly. 
  7. Let cool completely and break up into pieces. 
  8. Keep in an air-tight container on the counter for up to a week.