dried fruit desserts

Chocolate Prune Cake

Moist, rich, and just the right amount of sweet, this cake stands out in a holiday dessert spread.

Yield: 14 slices. 

1 ½ cups prunes, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water
2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
Powdered sugar (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare Bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a mixing bowl, sprinkle baking soda over prunes and toss. Add boiling water to prunes and allow to cool.

In a mixing bowl (or food processor), cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add prune mixture, and mix for 15 seconds.

Sift together flour and cocoa powder. Gradually add to wet ingredients, until flour and cocoa powder are incorporated.

Pour into Bundt pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let cool. Place cake onto plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies

Santa tested, Santa approved. Also, a welcome addition to any cookie plate or tin.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies.

8 ounces (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 egg
1 cup vegetable oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
1 tablespoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325º. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugars, and vanilla and orange extracts. Add egg and mix. Add oil and stir.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, cornflakes, oatmeal, baking soda, and salt. Add to batter. Stir in white chocolate chips, almonds, and cranberries.

Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place on cookie sheet, and flatten with a fork dipped in water. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove cookie sheet from oven, and let sit for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Orange Date Nut Bread

Keep a loaf on hand for afternoon coffee or tea breaks.

Yield: 1 loaf.

1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
½ teaspoon orange extract
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 tablespoon orange zest
Cream cheese (optional)
Orange marmalade (optional)

In a bowl, combine the dates, orange extract, boiling water, and butter. Cover and let cool.

Grease a loaf pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat sugar and egg together, and add to dates, alternating with the sifted ingredients.

Dredge pecans and orange zest in a small amount of flour, and stir into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and let rise for 20 minutes.

While batter is rising, preheat oven to 325º. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve with cream cheese and orange marmalade, if desired.

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.