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Balance heavy meals with the perfect complement -- light desserts. Try Cranberry Cake, Caramel-Apple Charlotte, or Orange Chiffon Pie

If you have been in the habit of baking rich pies and puddings to top off a heavy dinner, you may have seen them go begging because you fed your guests too well. Why not balance the heavy meal with a light dessert, making it a grand finale to the multicourse feast? These fruity puffs and fluffs can be made a day or more before serving. They are as decorative as they are flavorful. Cranberry Refrigerator Cake 4 cups cranberries 1 1/2 cups water 3 eggs, separated 1 1/2 cups sugar 5 tablespoons flour 1/2 teaspoon salt Juice and rind of 1/2 orange 1 tablespoon butter or margarine 1 dozen ladyfingers Chopped nutmeats

Cook cranberries in water until skins pop. Rub through sieve. Combine beaten egg yolks, sugar, flour, salt, and orange juice and rind, then add to cranberry pur'ee. Cook over hot water until thick. Add butter.

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Cool. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Arrange halved ladyfingers around bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan lined with waxed paper. Add half the cranberry mixture.

Cover with ladyfingers. Add remaining mixture. Chill for about 8 hours. Unmold and garnish with nuts. Makes 1 10-inch cake. Orange Chiffon Pie 2 teaspoons grated orange peel 2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin 1 1/4 cups orange juice 3 eggs, separated 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup lemon juice 2 oranges, peeled, finely cut, well drained 1/3 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/4 cup sugar 1 9-inch baked graham cracker crumb crust 1 cup whipping cream, whipped Fresh orange sections (garnish)

Grate orange peel. Reserve. Soften gelatin in orange juice. Beat egg yolks well in top of double boiler. Add 3/4 cup sugar and salt, beating until smooth. Blend in gelatin mixture and lemon juice.

Cook over boiling water until slightly thickened and gelatin is thoroughly dissolved, about 8 minutes. Stir in grated orange peel. Partially chill. Add drained orange pieces.

Chill just until slightly thickened but not set. Meanwhile, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating at high speed to soft peak stage. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff, but still glossy and moist.

Carefully fold egg whites and half the whipped cream into orange mixture. Spoon into cooled crumb crust. Top with dollops of remaining whipped cream.

Chill until firm. Place a fresh orange section in each dollop of cream before serving. Makes 1 9-inch pie. Caramel-Apple Charlotte 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin 10 tablespoons brown sugar 3 eggs, separated 3 cups milk 2 apples, peeled and chopped 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 1 1/2 cups whipping or heavy cream, whipped 1/2 cup chopped pecans

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In medium saucepan, mix gelatin with 8 tablespoons sugar. Blend in egg yolks beaten with milk. Let stand 1 minute. Stir over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Add apples, butter, and vanilla. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until apples are tender. Pour into large bowl and chill, stirring occasionally, until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from spoon.

Beat egg whites into soft peaks. Gradually add remaining sugar and beat until stiff. Fold egg whites, then whipped cream and pecans, into gelatin mixture.

Turn into 9-inch springform pan. Chill until firm. Garnish, if desired, with additional apple and pecans. Serves 10 to 12.

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