For many, the new year means forming new habits. You might plan to bake more often in the upcoming year to save on the cost of snacks. If you have leftover holiday baking supplies, such as food coloring, chips, nuts or candy, you can use them for other holidays, such as Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day. But who needs a special occasion to bake? The following recipes will be a welcome surprise anytime. I've included one with carrots so the sugar police don't hunt me down.

Brownie Tarts

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/4 cup toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line twenty-four 1-3/4-inch mini muffin cups; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine unsweetened chocolate and butter. Over low heat, cook and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat lightly until just combined. Stir in flour. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each muffin cup. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool.
In a small saucepan, heat whipping cream over low heat until it simmers; remove from heat. Add chocolate pieces, stirring until melted. Dip top of each brownie into glaze. Add toffee bits to top of brownie. Let glaze set.

Chocolate-Pistachio Pinwheels

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios
2 to 3 drops green food coloring

Cream butter and sugar together. Mix in baking powder, salt, egg and vanilla. Stir in flour. Divide dough into thirds. Stir melted chocolate into one third. Stir pistachios and food coloring into one third. Leave one third plain. Divide each third into four pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick rope eight inches long. Place a chocolate, pistachio and plain rope side by side, and twist together. Repeat with remaining ropes. Cover and chill all four twisted ropes about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut ropes into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Carefully roll slices into balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Using a glass dipped in sugar, flatten each ball until 1/4 inch thick. Bake 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool. -- Donna, California

Carrot Cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 cup grated carrots

Preheat oven to 400 F. In medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. In large bowl, cream together sugar and shortening. Beat in eggs and lemon extract. Stir in grated carrot. Add dry ingredients to large bowl, and mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Toffee Shortbread Cookies

1 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 bag butterscotch baking chips
1 bag toffee bits, reserve 1/4 cup for topping

Preheat oven to 300 F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Add flour and almonds. Stir in baking chips and toffee bits. Mixture will be crumbly. Uniformly press dough onto cookie sheet. Sprinkle remaining toffee bits on top, lightly pressing in. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Check for when it starts to turn golden around edges. Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Slice into squares before it hardens. -- D.J., Canada
What are you baking to save money?
photo by she who shall not be named