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We suggest using Michigan Balaton Cherries in these recipes for better flavor and freshness!

Ribbon of Cherry Cheesecake
Swirls of cherry make this cheesecake better than "visions of sugarplums."

1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 (21-ounce) can cherry filling and topping
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, slightly beaten

Toast almonds in a skillet over medium heat. Remove from heat; finely chop almonds. Combine almonds, graham cracker crumbs and butter in a medium bowl; mix well. Press crumb mixture evenly over the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Set aside.

Purée cherry filling in an electric blender or food processor until smooth. Pour puréed cherry filling into a medium saucepan. Combine 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and cornstarch; stir into cherry filling. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until mixture is thick and bubbly. Stir in almond extract. Set aside to cool.

Put cream cheese, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, amaretto, lemon juice and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed 3 to 4 minutes, or until well mixed. Add eggs all at once; beat on low just until mixed.

To assemble the cheesecake, pour one-third of the cream cheese mixture into prepared crust. Top with about 1/3 cup cherry purée. Swirl cherry mixture into cream cheese mixture, using a knife or spatula. Repeat layers twice, ending with cherry purée. Reserve remaining purée.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 60 to 65 minutes, or until the center appears nearly set when gently shaken. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, spoon a generous tablespoon of purée on serving plate. Place cheesecake wedge on top of the purée.

Makes 16 servings.

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Danish Butter Cookies
These make a pretty addition to holiday cookie trays.

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
21 red or green glacé cherries, cut in half

Put butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed 3 to 4 minutes, or until well mixed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after every addition. Add lemon juice and vanilla; mix well. Add flour; mix well. Using a pastry bag with a star tip, squeeze dough (1-1/2 inches in diameter) onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place a glacé cherry half in center of each.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 12 to 15 minutes, or until light brown.

Makes 3-1/2 dozen.

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Cherry Cheese Brownies
Cherries and cream cheese make these brownies festive.

1 (16-ounce) can dark sweet cherries
1 (15-ounce) brownie mix (8x8 pan size)
2 eggs, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1 teaspoon almond extract

Drain cherries; reserve 1/4 cup cherry juice. Put brownie mix in a large bowl. Add 1 egg, oil and reserved cherry juice; mix well. Gently stir in cherries. Set aside.

Put cream cheese and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer 3 to 4 minutes, or until well mixed. Add remaining egg; mix well. Stir in coconut and almond extract.

Lightly grease an 83832-inch baking pan. Spoon brownie mixture evenly into pan. Spoon cream cheese mixture over brownie mixture. Use a knife to swirl cream cheese mixture into brownie mixture.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 35 to 40 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool. Cut into squares or bars.

Makes 9 squares; 18 bars.

Note: 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts can be substituted for coconut.

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Cherry Blossoms
Bake these breakfast rolls as a holiday treat for family or neighbors.

2/3 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup dried tart cherries, divided
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 (14- to 16-ounce) loaf frozen white bread dough, thawed
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Combine confectioners' sugar and milk in a small mixing bowl; mix well. Pour mixture into a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cherries and pecans evenly over sugar mixture.

On a lightly floured surface, roll bread dough into a 12x8-inch rectangle; brush with melted butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cherries. Roll up rectangle, jelly-roll style, starting from a long side; pinch to seal edges. Cut roll into 12 slices.

Place slices, cut-side down, on top of mixture in pan. Let rise, covered, in a warm place 30 minutes, or until nearly double. (Or, cover with waxed paper, then with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 to 24 hours. Before baking, let chilled rolls stand, covered, 20 minutes at room temperature.)

Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 375-degree oven 20 to 25 minutes for unchilled rolls and 25 to 30 minutes for chilled rolls, or until golden brown. If necessary, cover rolls with foil the last 10 minutes to prevent overbrowning. Let cool in pan 1 to 2 minutes. Invert onto a serving platter. Serve warm.

Makes 12 rolls.

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Ho Ho Surprises
Delight family and friends with these tasty cookies.

48 red or green maraschino cherries (about one 16-ounce jar)
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
Confectioners' sugar

Drain maraschino cherries thoroughly on paper towels; set aside. Put butter and 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed 3 to 4 minutes, or until well mixed. Stir in almond extract. Add flour and salt; mix well. Stir in pecans.

Shape about 2 teaspoons dough around each cherry. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven 12 to 15 minutes, or until set but not brown. Roll in confectioners' sugar while still warm. Let cool. If desired, roll in confectioners' sugar again.

Makes 4 dozen.

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Double Cherry Pie
The holidays would not be complete without at least one cherry pie.

4 cups frozen unsweetened tart cherries
1 cup dried tart cherries
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca or cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pastry for 2-crust, 9-inch pie
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter

Combine frozen cherries, dried cherries, granulated sugar, tapioca and almond extract in a large mixing bowl; mix well. (It is not necessary to thaw cherries before using.) Let cherry mixture stand 15 minutes. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry; fill with cherry mixture. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Dot with butter. Make a lattice top out of the remaining pastry. Seal and flute edge. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven about 1 hour, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. If necessary, cover edge of crust with aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning.

Makes 8 servings.

Note: 2 (16-ounce) cans unsweetened tart cherries, well drained, can be substituted for frozen tart cherries. Dried cherries are available at selected supermarkets and gourmet and specialty food stores.

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Christmas Bread
Maraschino cherries, bananas and macadamia nuts are a perfect trio in this holiday quick bread.

1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts or walnuts

Drain maraschino cherries, reserving 2 tablespoons juice. Coarsely chop cherries; set aside. Put butter, brown sugar, eggs and reserved cherry juice in a large mixing bowl. Mix with an electric mixer on medium speed 3 to 4 minutes, or until well mixed. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with mashed bananas, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in cherries and nuts. Lightly spray a 9x5x3-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 1 hour, or until golden brown and wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Remove from pan; let cool on wire rack. Wrap in plastic wrap or store in a tightly covered container.

Makes 1 loaf, about 16 slices.

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Cherry Cinnamon Rolls
These are wonderful for a holiday breakfast or brunch.

1 (10-ounce) jar red or green maraschino cherries
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (8-ounce) package crescent rolls
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Drain maraschino cherries; discard juice or save for another use. Chop cherries, then drain on paper towels. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Unroll crescent rolls; divide into triangles. Brush with butter. Sprinkle each triangle with about 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon-sugar mixture; top with 1 tablespoon cherries. Roll up dough toward pointed end of triangle. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Brush with butter and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake in a 375-degree oven 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve warm. Makes 8 servings.

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