Apricot Harlequin Cookies

apricot harlequin cookies

These little slice-and-bake gems are a riff on shortbread cookies – lovely, delicate, yet crunchy, studded with chewy apricot bits. They are a wonderful addition to your holiday cookie platter, or all year round as a teatime treat.

The original Italian version, called Arlecchini – or little harlequins  (also sometimes called Tutti Frutti Cookies) use bright red and green candied cherries, but all that unnatural colouring gives me the shivers. So, I substituted chopped dried apricots – not as bright and flashy, but still cheerful looking with the glowing golden apricot bits. Think of them as the quieter, more refined younger brother of the clown-like harlequin or jester.

apricot harlequin cookies

I omitted the egg, so they have a smoother and crisper texture that melts in your mouth like shortbread cookies. I also snuck in rum to moisten the dough, instead of water – going on the principle of vodka helping to tenderize pie crust, and thinking the slight bit of alcohol will keep the log of dough from freezing as solidly.

The beauty of this cookie recipe (besides its obvious good looks!) is that the dough can be quickly thrown together, then tucked into the freezer to bake later – when you need a batch of biscuits for guests, or whenever the cookie craving strikes.

apricot harlequin cookies* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes:  *Sweet rice flour is also known as glutinous rice flour, although it doesn’t contain any gluten. The term refers to the sticky nature of the rice. It also sometimes goes by the name of ‘mochiko’, if you buy it in an Asian grocery store. It works well in baking and to thicken sauces.

If using gluten-free flours, there is no need to use any added gums. The freezing process seems to help the flours bind, and they hold together beautifully.

Vegan: Since this recipe uses no eggs, it’s easy to make it vegan – just be sure to use a vegan margarine or butter substitute. I made several batches like that and they turned out just as delicious – the texture was a little crisper and not quite as ‘short’ or melt-in-your-mouth as shortbread, but yummy all the same.

apricot harlequin cookies

(Eggless) Apricot Harlequin Cookies

adapted from Cakes in the City

  • ½ cup (115gms) soft, salted butter (or vegan butter substitute)
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (190gms) all purpose flour — or 1/3 cup (45gms) brown rice or sorghum flour + 1/3 cup (45gms) white rice flour + 1/3 cup (55gms) sweet rice flour* + 1/3 cup (50gms) cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup (80gms) icing sugar (also known as confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons rum (or water)
  • ½ cup (100gms) soft dried apricots

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter until soft and fluffy. Add the flour (or gluten-free flours), icing sugar, and vanilla. Mix until it is all moistened and crumbly.

Add 1 tablespoon of the rum or vodka and beat until it comes together in a soft ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add the second tablespoon, a bit at a time, if you need it. If you add a bit too much rum, add back in one teaspoon of flour or rice flour at a time until the dough is soft, but not sticky anymore.

Chop the apricots coarsely.

chopping the dried apricots forapricot harlequin cookiesAdd the chopped apricots to the dough and mix until they are incorporated.

dough ball for apricot harlequin cookies

Roll the dough into a ball, and place it onto a large piece of wax paper. Shape it into a log about 10 inches/25 cm long.

shaping the log of dough forapricot harlequin cookiesWrap the log up in the wax paper, and roll the wrapped log on the counter lightly to make a smooth cylinder. If the paper is crinkled, unwrap, smooth it out and wrap up the log again – this will keep the edges smooth so the cookies are even. Place in the freezer and freeze for 1 hour.

wax paper wrapped log for apricot harlequin cookies(The log of cookie dough can also be kept frozen for up to several months, wrapped tightly in plastic. Remove from the freezer 30 minutes before slicing and baking.)

Remove from the freezer and slice into 1/3 inch (8mm) slices. Place on greased or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. If any edges of the cookies come loose, press them gently back into place.

apricot harlequin cookiesBake in a preheated 325°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden underneath. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove to rack to cool.

apricot harlequin cookiesMakes 30 cookies.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

Have You Done Your Christmas Baking Yet?

Peanut Brittle Cravings

Rouladen – a Christmas Eve Tradition

Homemade Granola Bars, with Variations

Healthy Fudge with a Wicked Alias

apricot harlequin cookies

Hmmm . . . what is that? Looks good . . .

apricot harlequin cookies

Yup . . . tastes good too . . . I love Christmas.

Posted in Cookies & Candy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Li’l Honey Lemon Fingerling Potatoes – Side Dish or Appetizer – Bet Ya Can’t Eat Just One!

honey lemon fingerling potatoes, side dish and appetizerDon’t you just love it when the underdog gets his moment of glory and steals the show?

. . . when David beats Goliath, when Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree becomes the stunning centerpiece,

. . . when the usually relegated-to-the-side-dish, humble little potato comes to the party in the prettiest frock and gets all the oohs and ahhhs.

Like these sweet ‘n tangy fingerling potato morsels – a stunning side dish for your holiday meal, or irresistible nibbles with cocktails. There is no such thing as eating just one.

honey lemon potato appetizersThe Little Potato Company sent me samples of their delectable creamer potatoes, so I’ve been playing with different recipes to showcase these cute and so-darn-tasty mini potatoes. My household couldn’t decide between the coconut-crusted snowball spuds, or these zesty sweet ‘n sour fingers. This recipe for the Honey Lemon Fingerlings only won out by one vote, so I’ll pass on the other recipe soon. The point here is that these amazingly creamy and flavourful little potatoes taste fabulous, no matter how you dress them up.

And the harried holiday cook will appreciate that these small spuds are pre-washed and ready for the pot – no fussing needed.

You’ll love turning the earthy little tubers into the delectable show-stoppers of your next formal or informal gathering.

I’ve made numerous batches of trial recipes over the last couple weeks. We’ve all been eating just one more little potato, and just one more, and just one more . . . until the whole batch is all gone, no matter how I prepare them.

This honey lemon version is inspired by a caramelized potato dish popular in the northern part of Germany, around Hamburg, known as Karamelkartoffeln. The original dish uses only sugar and butter to caramelize the potatoes, but I felt the use of honey and the added zip of lemon would really bring these little gems to the forefront of your next meal. They are so delectable I also served them as appetizers, alongside gin and tonic cocktails to enhance the lemony goodness. The creamy texture and intense flavour of these (lower starch) fingerling potatoes stole the show.


That is all I can say.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Feel free to use all olive oil or all butter for this recipe. I’ve tried it both ways, and both are delicious.

Fingerling potatoes are fully cooked long before the recommended time is up, but the extended cooking time helps caramelize the juices and lets the lemony flavour really penetrate into the potatoes.

IMG_8303a honey lemon fingerling potatoes

Honey Lemon Fingerling Potatoes

  • 1½ lbs (680gms) small fingerling potatoes (or other small creamer potatoes)
  • zest and juice of one juicy lemon (preferably organic)
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup (60ml) water
  • a handful of chopped parsley (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a 9″x13″ pan with a piece of parchment paper big enough to come up all four sides of the pan. Trim off any bits that stick out past the top of the pan. (You can go without the parchment paper, but your pan will need a good soak and scrub afterwards to remove the baked-on honey.)

Cut the fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise, and put them into the pan.

honey lemon fingerling potatoesZest the lemon over the potatoes and squeeze over the juice of the lemon.

honey lemon fingerling potatoesDrizzle with the honey and the olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Toss with two rubber spatulas, or your hands, to coat all surfaces of the potatoes.

Dot with the butter and pour in the water.

honey lemon fingerling potatoes

Bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, turning the potatoes carefully with a rubber spatula, so as not to tear the parchment paper, every 20 minutes.

The potatoes are done when the juices are reduced and syrupy, and the potatoes are browned and caramelized in spots.

honey lemon fingerling potatoes— If serving as a side dish, transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. Great with any roasted or grilled meat.

— If serving as an appetizer, transfer to a shallow bowl or serving tray, and provide guests with cocktail picks, or place a pick into each little potato half.

Should serve 4 to 6 as a side dish, or makes about 50 appetizers, serving 10 to 12 (unless you are our family – then 2 people can polish off a whole batch!)

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

Spruce Tips and Potatoes and Cream

German Potato Salad

Campfire Baked Potatoes

Roasted Parsnip Fries with Spicy Orange Mayonnnaise


*The delectable fingerling potatoes used in this post were provided by The Little Potato Company, but the recipe and ramblings are, as always, my own.

Posted in Appetizers, Potatoes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Have You Done Your Christmas Baking Yet?

Christmas baking is in full swing around here – though the swing is a little smaller than it used to be. We don’t seem to eat as much baking any more, but we do like to have a few sweets around to nibble on with a cup of tea or hot chocolate as we trim the tree, wrap up gifts, or visit with friends.

Here are a few of our favourites to give you some ideas:

If you haven’t made a fruitcake yet, this one is wonderful, even if it only has a week or two to age: Gumdrop Fruitcake

Gumdrop Christmas fruitcake

the gumdrops in this delectable fruitcake will convert even kids to loving fruitcake

These Gingerbread Rice Krispie Squares are especially festive with the Cinnamon Ganache Topping: gingerbread rice krispie squares with cinnamon ganache topping
The squares can also be turned into these decorative trees, or iced with colourful gel frosting ornaments for a kids’ project (see the post for kid pictures):

spiced rice krispie trees

hoping your slide into the Christmas season is full of peace and joy

For a decadent, smooth, rich chocolate truffle (yet dairy-free and gluten-free), look no further than this easy recipe. Take a few as your next hostess gift:

decadent little chocolate truffles

the insides of these truffles are so creamy smooth and rich

If you’re looking for a healthier option to traditional truffles, why not try these luscious Chocolate Walnut Cookie Dough Balls?chocoholic's dream - chocolate walnut cookie dough balls

Or these holiday-spice inspired Gingerbread Cookie Dough Balls? Both are healthy refined-sugar-free options.gingerbread cookie dough balls

These Oaty Chocolate Bites are a lovely crunchy little cookie to have with your afternoon tea:oaty chocolate bites cookies

Or maybe you’d like these Choco-Crisps, an easy rice krisp cookie that looks very elegant:choco-crisp cookies

These Ginger Molasses Cookies are full of warm wintry spices – perfect for a treat after being out in the snow on a chilly afternoon:ginger molasses cookies
For an easy, no-bake treat – try these simple Chocolate-Dipped Apricots. Sweet like a kiss:chocolate dipped apricots

If you’re looking for something more along the cake or dessert lines, here are some of my favourites:

You can’t beat this simple, light, and luscious Lemon, Almond Flour, and Olive Oil Cake for an afternoon tea treat when friends drop by or for a light dessert after a heavy meal:luscious lemon, almond flour, and olive oil cake

And if you’re looking for chocolate elegance after a special meal, here’s the lovely French Moelleux au Chocolat with Praline Cream – a cross between deep dark chocolate cake and moist fluffy fudge – so decadent:fudgy moelleux au chocolat cake

For a fun and quick to make last-minute, kid-friendly cake, why not try a Caramel Popcorn Cake:cooking with kids: caramel popcorn cake

And I always like to have the ingredients for this simple, yet so quick to whip up and utterly rich and luscious, fudgy, Mississipi Mud Sauce on hand for a lovely topping for ice cream when I need a last minute dessert:Mississippi mud sauce

How about making some Chai Latte Concentrate, either for yourself or as a gift – a wonderful winter tea: chai tea latte syrup concentrate

And if you’re looking for that perfect Christmas drink for sipping and toasting, throughout the holiday season  – you must try the Poinsettia Cocktail. It is light, bubbly and very special. It’s our favourite!

Christmas poinsettia cocktail

Cheers, and a Merry Christmas to you all!

I hope you are all having a ton of fun preparing for the coming festivities! And if the stress gets to you. . . stop . . . put on a beautiful Christmas song, sip a steamy cup of tea or a bubbly Poinsettia cocktail, and count your blessings while you remember what the real reason for the season is.

Guten Appetit!


Posted in Cakes, Chocolate, Cookies & Candy, Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Cooking With Kids: Spiced Rice Krispie Tree

cooking with kids: spicy rice krispie trees

Cooking with Meredith

Oh, ’tis the season – fa la la la la . . . la la la la.

We’ve caught the Christmas spirit around here.

Meredith and I had a deck the halls and O Tannenbaum fest.

And our Tannenbaums were decked with sugar and icing and ribbons – cause it is the season.

This project used the Gingerbread Rice Krispie Squares I usually make, stuffed into a paper cone to shape them, then either left unadorned for a more natural, rustic look, or fully decorated with colourful squeeze-on icing for a bright and fun kid-friendly look.

cooking with kids: spiced rice krispie treesTwo great options.

One great (and easy) edible Christmas decoration.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: The recipe below makes one 12-inch (30 cm) tree plus a pile of small presents, or 1 large 14-inch (35cm)  tree, or one middle-sized plus one small tree. For my grouping of three trees, I made two batches of the gingerbread rice krispie mix.

You can use purchased squeeze tubes of coloured icing to decorate the tree, or make your own icing and put it in a plastic baggie, then cut a little snip off one corner to squeeze the icing out of.

Christmas Spiced Rice Krispie Tree

Paper cone shaping idea from: well nourished blog

Skills used: measuring, cooking & stirring, folding, decorating

  • 5 cups (1200ml) crispy rice cereal, gluten-free if necessary
  • 1 cup (90gms) quick-cooking oats (not instant)
  • ½ cup (60gms) dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup (115gms) butter, coconut oil, or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 6 cups, slightly heaped (250gms) mini marshmallows or 40 regular marshmallows
  • a large sheet of stiff paper, or poster board, and tape
  • parchment paper
  • squeeze tubes of coloured icing to decorate, sprinkles, or sugar pearls, if desired

First, make a paper cone. Cut about a 16 inch (40cm) square out of stiff paper – we used poster board. Roll it into a cone and tape the seam well.

cooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie treescooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie trees

Cut a piece of parchment paper about the same size as your paper was. Roll it into a skinnier cone than the stiff paper one, and slip it inside the paper cone as a liner. It will unroll a bit, by itself, to fit the shape of the larger cone, and sits inside the paper cone without needing to be fastened.

If you want to make some rice krispie ‘presents’ to put around your tree, spray a small square plastic container with cooking oil spray or wipe it with butter, or use one half of a loaf pan. We used a 4½ inch square plastic food storage container.

In a large mixing bowl, measure the crispy rice, oats and cranberries. Set aside.

cooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie treesMeasure or count out the marshmallows and set aside.

cooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie treesPut the butter or coconut oil into a heavy bottomed pot and melt it over medium heat. Add the spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until the butter is bubbling, to get the spices to release their flavour.

Add the marshmallows and cook, stirring constantly, until the marshmallows are all melted and the mixture is smooth.cooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie treesPour the mixture quickly over the rice krispies in the bowl, tilting the pot and scraping everything out with a rubber spatula.

cooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie treesThis works best with two people – one to hold the pot and the other to scrape it out.

cooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie treesNow work quickly before the mixture starts to harden. Using the spatula, stir and fold the marshmallow mixture into the rice krispies until everything is coated with the sticky goo.

Wipe the end of a thick wooden spoon handle with butter or spray it with cooking oil spray. Plop a small amount of the rice krispie mixture into the bottom of the lined paper cone you prepared. Then use the greased end of the wooden spoon to tamp the mixture lightly into the tip of the cone. Keep adding a large spoonful of mixture to the cone and then tamp it.

cooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie trees

I was the plopper and Meredith was the tamper

This part also works best with two people – one to plop spoonfuls of the mixture into the cone and the other to tamp it down.

Once you have enough mixture in the cone to make the size of tree you want, grease your fingers and smooth the last bit down to make the bottom of the tree level. If you want to make presents, save a few spoonfuls of the mixture to press into your square container or put it into a loaf pan and push it to evenly fill one half of the pan, about 1 inch deep.

cooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie treesSet the cone and container into the fridge to harden for at least one hour.

When hardened, pull the parchment paper liner out of the cone with the tree in it. You can use the cone again if you want to make another tree. (Just line it again with parchment paper.)

Stand the tree upright to see if it stands straight. If it is crooked, shave bits off the bottom with a sharp knife so that it stands straight.

If you made a container of rice krispie mixture for gifts, cut the square into 4 large gifts, or 9 smaller gifts.

Using the squeeze tube icing, decorate your tree and presents. For the green icing garland, I slowly turned the tree while Meredith applied the icing.

You can add a pine cone to the top, or a small plastic tree ball, or a pom pom. Stick it on with icing. We used a small gingerbread star cookie.

cooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie treescooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie trees

cooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie treescooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie trees

cooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie treescooking with kids: Christmas spiced rice krispie trees

You can keep your beautiful tree to look at, or you can eat it!

Guten Appetit!

See other ‘Cooking With Kids’ posts here.

You might also like:

Caramel Popcorn Cake

Gingerbread Rice Krispie Squares

Decadent Little Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate-Dipped Apricots

spiced rice krispie trees

hoping your slide into the Christmas season is full of peace and joy


Posted in Cookies & Candy, Cooking with Kids, Desserts, Puddings & Such, Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Chocaholic’s Dream – Chocolate Walnut Cookie Dough Balls

chocoholic's dream - chocolate walnut cookie dough ballsI still can’t bring myself to eat raw cookie dough . . . but boy-oh-boy, can I devour these flourless cookie dough balls!

After the deliciousness of Gingerbread Cookie Dough Balls, I haven’t been able to stop craving the doughy little morsels of sweet flavour. And I’ve had thoughts of chocolate in my head lately. Just knowing these cookie dough balls are full of wholesome and healthy ingredients distracts my brain enough that it thinks it’s getting a decadent treat.

My brain doesn’t care that there are healthy omega-3 fats and lots of vitamins and minerals from the walnuts, or that there is a good dose of healthy fiber from the oats, or that the cocoa powder is loaded with natural antioxidants. It doesn’t even care that the sweetness from the dates makes these treats refined-sugar-free.

Nope. All my brain cares about is the chocolate fix that’s getting satisfied and the sweet cravings that are being stilled.

YAY for healthy solutions to a chocoholic’s addictions, and YAY for fooling your brain!

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: If you think you don’t like walnuts, it’s probably because you’ve mostly eaten them when they are already rancid. Walnuts go rancid quickly because of their high percentage of healthy oils. The nuts you buy on the grocery store shelves, in bags for baking, are often already past their prime. If you want good walnuts, it is imperative to find a reputable source of walnuts that has a high turnover to ensure the nuts are fresh. Once you taste fresh walnuts you’ll know how rich, nutty, and delicious they can be.

Always store walnuts in the freezer to keep them at their optimal freshness.

Walnuts are slightly bitter (a much different and milder bitterness than the bitterness when they’ve gone rancid) because of their skins, which are rich in phenols, so don’t remove them. When combined with dark chocolate, the slight bitterness of the nuts’ skins blends with the natural bitterness of the chocolate to become part of the delicious addiction.

*While I’m toasting the walnuts, I always toast a few extra to keep in a jar in my pantry so I have them handy for one of my favourite quick and healthy breakfasts: Yogurt, Honey, and Walnuts – Beautiful Breakfast Simplicity.

chocoholic's dream - chocolate walnut cookie dough balls

Chocaholic’s Dream Chocolate Walnut Cookie Dough Balls

  • ½ cup (60gms) oat flour or rolled oats (gluten-free, if necessary)
  • 2 cups (200gms) fresh walnuts
  • 1 cup (200gms) pitted medjool dates – about 10 to 12
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup (40gms) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water

To roll the balls:

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder +4 tablespoons coconut sugar (or granulated sugar, if that’s all you have)
  • or finely chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread the walnuts on a cookie sheet. Toast for 10 to 12 minutes, until the nuts are golden and you can smell their fragrant aroma. Let cool.

Place the oat flour or oats into the bowl of a food processor. If using oats, whiz them until they become a coarse flour.

Add the toasted walnuts, dates, salt, cocoa powder, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of water.

ingredients for chocolate walnut cookie dough ballsProcess until the mixture comes together and whizzes around the bowl in mostly one large clump. You may have to stop the processor several times to push down the dough if it sticks to the sides of the bowl. Add the second tablespoon of water if it needs it to form a ball.

chocolate walnut cookie dough balls in the food processor

Stop processing as soon as the mixture comes together in a ball. If you process it too long, the nuts will become so fine they will start to release their oils, as if you were making nut butter. This doesn’t alter the taste or nutritional value – it just makes it messier to roll the balls, since they are so oily (words of experience, here).

Mix the cocoa powder and coconut sugar in a small bowl.

Scoop out 1 tablespoon-sized chunks of the cookie dough. Roll into balls and roll the balls in the cocoa-sugar mixture or in the finely chopped nuts.

rolling the chocolate walnut cookie dough ballsLeave at room temperature for several hours to dry, then store in a single layer in a container in the fridge for several weeks (though I defy you to keep them that long without eating them all up). Can be frozen, too.

Makes about 24 balls.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Balls


Gingerbread Dough Boy Smoothie

Gingerbread Rice Krispie Squares

Posted in Chocolate, Cookies & Candy, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments