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3 Surprising Ways to Use Artichoke Hearts

They may not look like much, but they can completely transform a dish. 

Jelly Doughnuts

Also known as sufganiyot, these deep-fried Hanukkah sweets symbolize the miracle of the burning oil lamps in ancient Jerusalem. Think you can’t pull them off at home? Think again. The Real Simple food editors came up with a shortcut recipe using pre-made pizza dough and strawberry jelly. Be sure to let your pizza dough come to room temperature before rolling: this makes it a lot easier to work with. 

Gingerbread Pancakes

We packed all the flavors of gingerbread cookies into these stackable pancakes. They’re barely sweet with a little dark brown sugar and molasses—this is breakfast after all—but that means you can use as much maple syrup as you like. This recipe makes about 12 3½-inch wide pancakes so depending on the size of your griddle or skillet you’ll likely need to work in batches. To keep the first batch warm while you make the second and third and so on, place the pancakes on a wire rack set over a baking sheet in a 250° oven. Everyone’s pancakes will be ready at once and you won’t feel like a short-order cook.

Cream Cheese Mints

Caution: you might fall over when you see these they’re are so darn cute. A simple mixture of cream cheese, butter, and mostly powdered sugar combine to create these tiny pretty candies. You can scoop them out and flatten with your finger for the easiest route or you can pipe them out for extra credit. To create piped mints, spoon each color of dough into a piping bag or large heavy-duty ziplock bag. Snip 1 corner and pipe ½-inch dots onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Press with a fork to decorate and flatten.

Microwave Eggnog and Cherry Fudge

You had us at eggnog. White chocolate, nutmeg, and a touch of brandy mimic the flavors of holiday nog without the confusion of drinking dessert while you’re waiting for the main course. It comes together in the microwave with just a little bit of stirring and that’s about all the effort it takes to make an addictive sweet treat perfect for gifting. Wrap individual squares of fudge in parchment or waxed paper and tie them with a bit of ribbon for a darling gift for co-workers, teachers, or family or friends.

Gingerbread Truffles

These chocolate truffles have all the richness of the classic candy but with the addition of all the warm spices you expect from gingerbread. They’re ideal for the holidays but we plan to enjoy them all the way until spring. We’ve rolled the finished truffles in a mixture of cocoa powder and ground ginger but you can have fun with it: try rolling them in toasted shredded coconut or sesame seeds or dip them in melted candy coating for a crispy chocolate shell.

Citrus Gumdrops

Gelatin is one of those mysterious baking ingredients that you either understand or you don’t. But remember: it’s just jell-o. The key is to “bloom” the gelatin before you use it. All that means is softening it in some of the liquid before you cook it which ensures it will dissolve evenly once it’s heated. You could make these same gumdrops with any citrus juice you like, or play around with other fruit juices: apple cider is fun in the fall or try mango or pineapple juice for a tropical spin.

Chocolate-Dipped Honeycomb

Remember those volcanoes you made as a kid by combining vinegar and baking soda? Well, the same rules apply here, science-lovers. Adding baking soda to a hot honey caramel releases carbon dioxide, creating lots of tiny air bubbles inside the sugar resulting in a tender crunchy golden candy. Be super careful when you’re making this one as hot sugar is just about the hottest thing next to molten lava (slight exaggeration). Get all of your equipment ready and clear some space on the counter. Use pot holders and a heat-safe spatula and be sure to keep little hands out of the way.

Cherry Cordial Cake Balls

Yes you can make your own cake bites (and these have a surprise inside). Boxed cake mix makes these super easy and approachable but feel free to use your favorite tender cake recipe (chocolate cake would work well too). Candy coating pieces, like CandiQuik dry shiny and hard but if you can’t find it you can use semisweet chocolate chips in their place. To use, combine 1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips and 4½ teaspoons vegetable oil in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH until melted, about 1 minute, stirring every 20 seconds.

Chocolate-Dipped Candied Orange Peel

There’s no more sophisticated sweet then a bit of candied citrus peel. The process is pretty easy once you get the hang of it—it’s really just a matter of practice and repeat. You boil the peels three times in clean water then cook them in a sugar syrup. Once dried, the peels get tossed in granulated sugar and dipped in chocolate. The same technique works for lemon and grapefruit peel too, but we’re especially fond of candied mandarin peel. Serve these at the end of a fancy-ish meal after dessert and with coffee.