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Here's How to End Mom's Special Day on a Sweet Note

May 4, 2011 By:
Ethel Hofman, Jewish Exponent Feature
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On Mother's Day, traditionally the family will get up early to prepare Mom's breakfast, which she will eat in bed. Crayoned "I Love You" cards from the kids will be proudly displayed on the refrigerator and, later in the day, Dad may show off his barbecuing skills.

But kids love to cook, and here's a perfect opportunity, with a little help from Dad, to fix one or two glorious desserts -- a sweet surprise to end Mom's special day.

Make Mother's Day dinner a surprise. Carnations, not roses, are the symbol of Mother's Day. Arrange a bunch of pink carnations in a pretty vase on the center of the table. It's a celebration, so, along with dessert, blush a glass of champagne or Asti Spumante with a splash of cranberry juice. For the kids, it's a pink sparkler, grape juice poured over ice cubes and topped off with club soda.

Mother's Day is not strictly an American tradition. Many countries including Denmark, Italy and India celebrate Mother's Day. In the United Kingdom, it's called Mothering Sunday, usually the first Sunday in April, a date always marked on my calendar as a reminder to send my Scottish mom cards and flowers.

Anna Jarvis is recognized as the founder of Mothers Day here, though she was never married and had no children. Each year, Anna and her friends gave carnations to their mothers, which is why they remain the symbol of Mother's Day.

She worked hard to gain national recognition for all mothers and, in 1909, with the support of John Wanamaker, Philadelphia merchant and philanthropist, 45 states observed the day. Five years later in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed the second Sunday in May a national holiday.

Here are some tips for junior cooks:

· Read the recipe before starting;

· Get all the ingredients out on the table first so that you don't have to hunt for missing items; and

· Preheat the oven (ask an adult) and grease the baking dishes, if needed.

Mile-High Strawberry Pie

(Dairy)

Diced mango or any other berries may be substituted for strawberries.

  • 1 package (6 oz.) kosher strawberry gelatin mix 
    11/2 cups (8 oz.) whipped topping 
    2 cups strawberries, quartered 
    1 graham-cracker crust (9-inch) 
    blanched almonds (optional)

Prepare the gelatin according to package directions.

Chill in refrigerator to set completely.

When set, cut with two knives or a fork to coarsely chop the gelatin.

Fold in the whipped topping to make a red-and-white mixture. Add 1 cup of strawberries. Stir gently to mix.

Spoon into the graham-cracker crust, mounding high. Decorate with the remaining strawberries.

Garnish with almonds, if using. Chill.

Serves 8 to 10.

Queen-of-Hearts Jam Tarts

(Pareve)

If you don't have a tiny, heart-shaped cookie cutter, draw a 1-inch heart on aluminum foil. Lay it on the pastry and cut around it to make the hearts to top off each tart.

  • 2/3 cup pareve margarine, chilled and cut in 6 to 8 pieces 
    2 cups all-purpose flour 
    1/2 tsp. salt 
    5-6 Tbsps. ice-cold water 
    2/3 cup strawberry preserves 
    confectioner's sugar to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 450°.

Spray a tray of 12 muffin tins lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

With your fingers or with a pastry blender, cut the margarine into the flour and salt until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs.

Make a well in center. Add 5 tablespoons water. Mix with a fork until the pastry cleans the sides of the bowl. Add a little more water, if needed.

Gather the pastry into a ball. Cut in half. On a lightly floured board, shape each half into a flat round. Roll pastry into a 12- to 13-inch circle. With a fluted 3-inch cookie cutter, cut into 8 circles. Press into 8 prepared muffin tins. Repeat with remaining pastry cutting 4 more circles. Press into the remaining tins.

Place 2 teaspoons preserves in each pastry shell. Cut out 12 tiny hearts and place one on top of each jam tart.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until pale brown at edges. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioner's sugar and arrange on a doily-lined plate.

Makes 1 dozen.

S'more Trifles

(Dairy)

Made in a jiffy, these puddings in wine glasses are a take-off on everybody's favorite.

  • 1 package (3 oz.) chocolate pudding mix 
    11/2 cups graham-cracker crumbs 
    1 large banana, thinly sliced 
    1 cup marshmallow fluff 
    4 chocolate-covered cherries

Prepare the chocolate pudding mix according to package directions.

Cool thoroughly.

To assemble trifles, place 4 wine glasses on the table. Place 1/4 cup graham-cracker crumbs in the bottom of each glass. Spoon 1/4 of the pudding over top. Top with a layer of bananas, then 1/4 cup marshmallow fluff. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs over top and top with a chocolate cherry.

Makes 4.

Thumb-Print Cookies

(Pareve)
  • 1/2 cup pareve margarine, softened 
    1/4 cup brown sugar, packed 
    1 egg yolk 
    1 tsp. vanilla extract 
    1 cup all-purpose flour 
    2 Tbsps. finely chopped nuts 
    1/3 cup apricot preserves 
    1/3 cup strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 325°.

Spray 1 large cookie sheet or 2 smaller ones with nonstick cooking spray.

Cream the margarine and sugar until pale and fluffy.

Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla. Add the flour and nuts. Mix well or with clean hands, knead together to form a ball. Mixture should be stiff.

Shape the dough into 12 to 15 balls. Place on prepared cookie sheet about 11/2-inches apart. Press lightly to flatten.

Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven.

Cookies will be hot, so with the end of a wooden spoon, make a dent in center. Spoon red preserves into half the cookies and apricot preserves in remaining cookies. Return to oven and bake 8 minutes longer.

Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 to 15 cookies.

Mom's Fruit Pizza

(Dairy)

Pick Mom's favorite fruits to top this white-chocolate cookie pizza. May bake in the morning or night before, and decorate before dinner.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut in 6 to 8 pieces 
    1 cup white chocolate chips 
    1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbsps., sugar 
    2 eggs, lightly beaten 
    1 tsp. vanilla extract 
    1 cup all-purpose flour 
    1/2 cup dried cranberries

    Topping Ingredients:

    1/2 cup light cream cheese, softened 
    1/4 cup whipped topping 
    1 Tbsp. sugar 
    well-drained pineapple chunks, berries, kiwi fruit, banana or whatever other fruits Mom likes best 
    1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips 
    1 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 325°.

Spray a 10-inch pie dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a medium pan over low heat. Stir often until melted and blended. Remove from heat.

Stir in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Don't worry if the mixture looks curdled.

Add the flour and cranberries. Stir well to mix.

Pour into the prepared pie dish.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until golden, but slightly soft in center.

Place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

In a bowl, whip the cream cheese, whipped topping and sugar until fluffy. Spread over the cooled white-chocolate base.

Here's where you get the kids involved the most: Decorate with a mixture of fruits arranged attractively over top.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and butter for 25 seconds, or until chips are soft and butter is melted. Stir to blend.

Drizzle over fruit.

Refrigerate to firm up the chocolate, about 30 minutes.

Cut into wedges to serve, but not before Mom has seen the whole fruit pizza.

Ethel G. Hofman is a past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Email her at: [email protected].

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