Enlightened Christmas Classics

Don't cross old favorites off your menu — just learn to lighten them up!
Enlightened Christmas Classics

The holidays are a time for baking and candy-making — and often enough, a trying time for those of us watching what we eat. But there's no need to miss out, especially when you can enjoy updated versions of classic holiday treats. Here are four retooled recipes, perfect for your celebrations.





Mulled Cider

Makes 6 servings

PointsPlus™ value 5 | 1 cup per serving

Ingredients

  • 6 cups unsweetened apple cider
    3 Tbsp sugar
    2 tsp grated lemon zest
    1/4 tsp almond extract
    1 large apple, cored and cut into eight pieces
    1 orange, pitted, white pith removed and cut into eight pieces
    4 dried figs, halved
    3 whole cloves
    1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat; stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer. Cover, remove from the heat, and let stand at room temperature for 4 hours. Strain and either reheat in a medium saucepan over low heat or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Mulled cider can be so loaded with sugar, it turns sticky on your lips. What a shame, because then the wonderful taste of apples doesn't come through, like it does in our version.

Popcorn Brittle

Makes 16 servings

PointsPlus™ value 3 | per serving
We've replaced the nuts in traditional brittle with air-popped popcorn—and the result is so crisp and crunchy, you may never go back to your old recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 serving nonstick cooking spray
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup light corn syrup
    1/4 cup water
    2 Tbsp molasses, preferably unsulphured molasses
    2 tsp unsalted butter
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    14 cups air-popped popcorn, crushed to 8 cups (see note below)

Instructions

  1. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray and set it aside.
  2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and molasses in a heavy large saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan and bring the mixture to 280°F without stirring.
  3. Stir in the butter and vanilla, then the salt and baking soda. (Be careful of burns—the very hot mixture may be foamy and frothy.) Immediately stir in the popcorn. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth into a thin layer, using a wooden spoon. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour, then break into chunks.


Note: Work in batches to crush the popcorn until it's about the size of pine nuts. Use one or two pulses in a food processor, or put popcorn in a large bowl and crush it with your fist.

Mock Mincemeat Pie

Makes 8 servings

PointsPlus™ value 9 | per serving
Here's a traditional dessert that's badly in need of an update. With apples, dried fruit, and lots of spices, it'll again be part of your repertoire—and not just in December!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 tsp additional for dusting
    1/2 tsp salt
    6 Tbsp almond oil
    2 Tbsp cool water
    2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
    1 1/2 cups raisins
    1/2 cup dried apples, chopped
    1 1/2 Tbsp grated orange zest
    2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
    1/4 tsp ground cloves

Instructions

  1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix the flour and 1/4 tsp salt in a large bowl. Stir in the oil and water until a loose dough forms. Lay a large piece of wax paper on your work surface; flour the wax paper. Turn the dough onto it, flour the dough and a rolling pin, and roll to a 13-inch circle. Pick up the wax paper and the dough; turn into a 9-inch pie plate. Center the dough, peel off the wax paper, and press the crust into place. Crimp the edges, if desired.
  3. Place the apples, raisins, dried apples, and orange zest in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Pour this mixture into a large bowl; stir in the egg yolks, both sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Spread into the prepared crust.
  4. Bake until set, about 45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack at least 1 hour before serving.

Tip: Spray your knife with nonstick spray before you chop dried fruit to keep it from sticking to the blade.

Fruit Cake

Makes 16 servings

PointsPlus™ value 4 | per serving
What did the fruit cake ever do to deserve such ridicule? Here's a version we've never seen anyone turn down—moist, light, full of dried fruit, perfect for breakfast or with a cup of coffee mid-afternoon.

Ingredients

  • 1 serving nonstick cooking spray
    3 Tbsp walnut oil
    2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    1 1/2 Tbsp molasses
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 large egg white
    1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
    1/2 cup chopped dried raisins
    1/2 cup chopped dried apple
    1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
    1/2 cup chopped dried pitted dates
    1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup whole wheat flour
    1/4 cup cake flour
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp ground allspice
    1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°F. Spray a nonstick 1-quart loaf pan with nonstick spray and set it aside.
  2. Whisk the walnut oil, melted butter, molasses, vanilla, and egg white in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Mix the cranberries, raisins, apple, orange peel, dates, and 2 Tbsp flour in a large bowl. In a second large bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cake flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, allspice, and salt. Stir into the dried fruit mixture. Then stir in the walnut oil mixture until a loose batter forms. Pour into the prepared pan, spreading it to the sides.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on the rack. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap to store at room temperature.
ADVERTISEMENT
Free Newsletter Get it now
ADVERTISEMENT