Five Easy Desserts

Five Easy Desserts
With the dessert baked you can breathe easier when entertaining guests at home this month. Here are five fast and festive desserts we bake and love:

1. Warm gingerbread. Try Trader Joe’s gingerbread mix if there is a store in your area. It’s the best boxed gingerbread I have tasted, containing cocoa and plenty of ginger. Add a cup of chopped apples or pears before baking, if desired. And serve warm (reheated gently in the oven) with whipped cream.
2. Chocolate peppermint ice cream pie. This is something my mom would make ahead of time for parties during Christmas. Crush Oreo cookies with a little melted butter and press this into a pie pan. Place in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes just to crisp the crust. Let the crust cool and press softened peppermint ice cream into the crust to generously fill. Cover the top with plastic wrap and place in the freezer until time to serve. Slice and serve with warm chocolate sauce.
3. Chocolate brownies baked with brandy. Bake your favorite box brownies, substituting ¼ cup brandy for some of the water. Get fancy and heat ¼ cup dried sweetened cranberries or white raisins with the ¼ cup brandy in the microwave until warm, then fold into the batter.
4. Amaretto Darn Good Chocolate Cake. Following my directions for Darn Good Chocolate Cake in the Cake Mix Doctor books, adding ¼ cup (or more to taste) Amaretto and ¼ cup of water instead of the ½ cup water.
5. Coconut Snowballs. Turn a package of sweetened coconut onto a baking pan and place in a 350-degree oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until the coconut begins to brown. Remove it from the oven to cool. Scoop vanilla ice cream into balls and roll them in the coconut. Place them on a baking sheet and return to the freezer to harden, 30 minutes. Transfer the coconut snowballs to a freezer container and store, covered, until time to serve. Serve one or two snowballs with hot chocolate sauce.

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