Pecan Pralines

Mmmm, pralines.  There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the correct pronunciation of these yummy drops of sugar and nuts…praw-lines, pray-lines…how do you say it??  I suppose it depends on where you’re from but I’m sure we can all agree these things are delicious!  I will admit I had never even made them before until my baking buddy Betsy suggested we get together and try a couple different kinds.  She has the best ideas.

I’m not sure how many or exactly what kinds we did that night, but I know we used one recipe that was her grandmother’s and these are the real deal.  Honestly, they are hard to describe other than just yummy pecans and sugar…they almost have a maple taste to them.  Which I love.  They do use a candy thermometer but don’t be afraid!  The candy thermometer is your friend!  All you have to do is watch that little red line get to 236 degrees and bam!  You’re golden and on your way to praline heaven.

Enjoy!

Pecan Pralines
 
Ingredients
  • ½ Stick Unsalted Butter
  • ½ c. Light Corn Syrup
  • ½ c. Evaporated Milk
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla
  • 3 c. Pecan Halves
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring butter, corn syrup, evaporated milk and sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring occasionally so the mixture doesn't scorch, until a candy thermometer reaches 236 degrees (it will take 8-10 minutes). Once it reaches 236 degrees, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and pecans. Continue to stir until very thick and dark in color, about 4-5 minutes (it will become somewhat difficult to stir...my arm was tired!) and immediately and quickly begin spooning onto wax paper or foil. Let sit until cool and completely firm.
Notes
Makes about 20.

 

 

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Thanksgiving Themed Cupcakes

In case you’re feeling crafty and in the mood for cupcakes this Thanksgiving, why not give one of these so, so cute Thanksgiving themed cupcakes a try!  I think the acorn cupcakes look like something even I could handle!  I’d probably add some chocolate leaves just to give it a little more oomph!

Have fun and get busy baking! 😉

Acorn Cupcakes

Pilgrim Hat and Cornucopia Cupcakes

Turkey and Stuffing Cupcakes

Thanksgiving Pie Cupcakes

Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

Turkey Cupcakes

 

 

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Sunny Oat-Date Bars

Last week I posted some healthy dessert recipes and I had my eye on a couple to try myself.  I decided to start with the Sunny Oat-Date Bars.  I just happened to have a HUGE bag of dates sitting on my counter that I had been meaning to make into a dessert but had never taken the time to find a recipe.  These bars were the perfect thing to use them in!

I made some minor adjustments to the recipe and overall the results were delicious.  They turned out a teensy bit crumbly so I’d recommend eating them with a fork.  And after I simmered the dates and orange juice, I had no liquid left over to add to the dry ingredients, it just turned into a very thick mixture.  So even though I didn’t have any of the orange/date liquid to add to the oats, it still worked fine. I absolutely LOVED this recipe and found I could hardly stay out of the bars.  The flavors of orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and dates was ah-mazing.  Pretty sure a healthy recipe becomes not so healthy when you eat 2-3 times more than you should!  Oh well.

Enjoy!

Sunny Oat-Date Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Very Finely Chopped and Pitted Dates
  • 1 c. Fresh Orange Juice (I used fresh-squeezed)
  • 2 t. Grated Orange Rind
  • 2 c. Thick Rolled Oats
  • ½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • ¼ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 t. Cinnamon
  • ⅛ t. Nutmeg
  • ¼ t. Cloves
  • ⅓ c., plus 1 T. Safflower Oil
  • ⅓ c. Honey
  • 3 T. Pure Grade A Maple Syrup
  • 1½ t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Pecans, coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x9 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the dates, orange juice and orange rind. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occassionally, until dates are very soft and the mixture has turned very thick (about 5-8 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, mash until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, honey, maple syrup and vanilla. Add oil mixture to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Press ⅔ of the oat mixture into the pan and spread the date mixture over the crust. Stir pecans into remaining oat mixture and drop by spoonfulls onto the date mixture and spread evenly.
  5. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Notes
Makes 18 bars.

 

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Sugar Rush 2011

Last year Drury partnered with some local businesses to bring the first every Sugar Rush event to Springfield, MO.  It’s basically a sampling a sweets made by local vendors and restaurants with all the profits going to Care to Learn, an organization dedicated to meeting the basic social and economic needs of kids in schools across the Ozarks.

I didn’t know about the event last year in time to go and I almost missed it this year but found out about it at the last minute and managed to score two for one tickets!  I asked my friend Robyn (of Red’s Cupcakes!) to go with me and together we ate our way through 25+ vendors and three plates of desserts.  Yes, THREE plates.  There were a LOT of mini cupcakes, some cookies, chocolates and truffles and even doughnuts and frozen yogurt samples.  I can’t say I was terribly impressed with anything but I definitely had my favorites.  I think Robyn and I agreed the front runners were Amycakes (awesome from scratch cupcakes and cookies), Elle’s Patisserie (loved her truffles and pastry), My Mary’s Jellies (truffles filled with wine-infused jelly–omg, so going to be making my own!) and one that I really liked, Granolove (super delicious homemade granola).  These places stood out above all the rest for quality and taste.

It was so much fun and I absolutely cannot wait for next year!  Here are some pictures from the evening-enjoy!

The Cup Pumpkin Cake
The Hot Chocolate Cups
Tea Bar and Bites Pumpkin Cake

Love Bites Truffles
My Mary's Jellies Red Wine Truffles
Tea Bar and Bites Coconut Cream

Granolove Granola
Style by the Slice Vanilla Bean
Sisters in Thyme Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Elle's Patisserie Salted Caramel Truffle
Gigi's Cupcakes Strawberry, Chocolate, Vanilla
Bambino's Caramel Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

Amycakes Red Velvet
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Healthy (yes, healthy!) Fall Inspired Desserts

Believe it or not, there are some people on diets this time of year.  Yes, DIETS, preparing/starving themselves for the two month long eat-o-rama that begins around mid-November and doesn’t stop until somewhere around the new year.  I myself believe in moderation and balance and try to get plenty of exercise and eat an overall healthy diet (I definitely do NOT believe in starvation and “diet” trends).  And I am most certainly planning on indulging during the holidays but in moderation.

So, for those more health-conscious readers out there like myself, I thought I would provide you with some healthy dessert options for you to bring to those family get-togethers.  Some are most definitely more healthy than others; there are low-fat, low-calorie, high-protein, low-sugar, etc.  Options!  That’s what I’m all about. 🙂  I’ll definitely be testing a couple (the Date Bars and Honey-Almond Cake are calling my name!) to see if they are worthy of the upcoming family festivities. I’ll post my results!

Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Accordion Bread

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Orange Glaze

Pumpkin Rice Pudding (Scroll a just over half-way down the page to see the recipe.)

Chocolate Cupcakes

Sunny Oat-Date Bars

Apple Dumpling Cinnamon Rolls

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Coconut Cookies

Flourless Honey Almond Cake

Pumpkin Sesame Cookies

Chocolate Torte

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

If you’ve never tried the combination of pumpkin and chocolate, you are seriously missing out.  The first time I ever tried the unusual, but oh-so-delicious pairing was several years ago when I made these Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles.  I was in heaven.  You wouldn’t think that the two flavors would go together but they compliment each other wonderfully.  Throw in some cinnamon and it’s a party in your mouth!   Now, add a cheesecake factor and you have mind blowing AWESOMENESS.  And that is just what you get with these Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirled Brownies.

These are simple and delicious.  The brownie batter is super thick and doesn’t seem like alot when you pour it in the pan, but after it bakes up, it’s the perfect proportion of brownie to cheesecake.  The only problem I had was swirling the brownie batter into the cheesecake because it was so thick.  It was more just kind of gently mixing it all together with a knife.  But it worked!   And they turned out perfect.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirled Brownies
 
Ingredients
Brownie Batter
  • ¾ c. (1½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • ½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • ½ t. Cinnamon
Pumpkin Cheesecake Batter
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 Large Egg
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 T. Flour
  • ¾ c. Pumpkin Puree
  • ¼ t. Pure Vanilla
  • ½ t. Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Each Ground Ginger and Ground Cloves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 baking pan.
For the Brownie Batter:
  1. Beat together the melted butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl and then gradually fold into the butter mixture by hand.
For the Pumpkin Cheesecake Batter:
  1. In another bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in remainder of ingredients until smooth.
  2. Spread about ⅔ of the brownie batter into prepared pan. Spread the pumpkin cheesecake batter over top, distributing evenly. Drop the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake batter and swirl together with a butter knife.
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely and chill before cutting and serving. (They are MUCH better chilled in the refrigerator overnight.)
Notes
Serves 12

 

 

 

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My Favorite Season

I know everyone is getting really excited about the colder temps and winter-like weather that is happening right now, but we have PLENTY of fall left and I’m going to savor every last minute of it.  Here are a few things I love at this time of the year (and some ah-mazing pumpkin recipes).

Fall Leaves.  Can’t get enough of the beautiful colors.  And it’s even better this year since this is the first fall in our new house and we have two gorgeous trees in our front yard. (and no, these are not our trees!  I wish!)

Photo courtesy of pixdaus.com

Pumpkin Monkey Bread.  I do believe I could eat this EVERY SINGLE morning for breakfast.  I won’t!  But I could.

Fall-Scented Candles.   According to this blog, Bath and Body Works has a Bakeshop candle collection.  Sad to say I haven’t been to the mall in so long, I have no idea if this is true or not!  Shopping trip!

Andy’s Frozen Custard Pumpkin Pie Concrete.  I think this is my favorite concrete concoction from Andy’s (besides my husband’s brilliant combination of cherry juice, Oreos and brownie mmmmm).  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good photo which I suppose means one thing:  I’ll have to go get a Pumpkin Pie Concrete and take my own photo.  The things I do…

Lovely Fall Dessert Tables.  I so wish I had been invited to this party.

Grown-Up Pumpkin Pie Milkshake.  Bourbon. Pumpkin Pie. Milkshake. ‘Nuff said.

Comfy Cupcake Sweatshirts.  This is going on my Christmas list.

Pumpkin S’mores.  Oh my.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!  Think I might spend my Saturday raking up all those beautiful fall leaves!  😉

 

 

 

 

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Cancun Eats

Just one week ago I was digging my toes into soft, white sand, reading non-stop on my Kindle under a palm tree and eating waaaaayyyyyy too much food.  It was a good five days in Cancun.

Here are some photos of the most important part of our trip…dessert!  (Forgive the photo quality..taken with a phone…bad lighting..etc etc etc)

These are some of the gorgeous dessert buffets.  I honestly can’t tell you what 1/4 of the stuff is and there wasn’t much that I liked, believe it or not.  Oh, but I tried it ALL.  Most of the choices were either way too sugary sweet coconut candy type things or bland.  And the “cake”-like options were very dry.  I did find a chocolate cheesecake wrapped in a chocolate purse-type shell (in first pic below, bottom right) that was good and another plain vanilla cheesecake thing (at least I THINK that’s what it was..hard to tell because the top half was green and it was shaped like an oval) that I liked also.  I did find these little chocolate cube-like things that I LOVED and I actually found them in the shop at the resort.  Turns out they were made of toasted amaranth and chocolate.  Yep, totally going to try making them.

There were two little gems that I found on our shopping day.  One is an amazing chocolate shop called Ah Cacao.  They sold all kinds of chocolate, coffee, every form of vanilla, cookies and some of THE BEST brownies I have ever had.  Oh and their chocolate covered espresso beans…AH-MAZING.  They were dipped in dark chocolate and then had a crunchy outer shell, like an M&M.  I wish I had bought more than one package.

This was a lovely little gelato place called Aldo’s.  There’s actually alot of gelato places in Cancun, which surprised me.  They pretty much started shoveling gelato samples into our mouthes the minute we walked up to the counter.  But I’m not complaining!  It was delicious!  I ended up getting a waffle cone with Almond gelato–heaven!

And this is us on our last day of living like beach bums, soaking up the sun.  Let me tell you, it was SWEET.

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Fashion Show

While I don’t typically like to be in front of the camera, I had to show off some of my latest finds to you all (and Jeremy agreed to not get my face in the shots so it was all good).

First up, a cupcake necklace from the Fair Grove craft fair. Love it!

Second, a delicious cupcake shirt from Forever 21.

I also found these cupcake socks while I was waiting in line at Forever 21 to buy my cupcake shirt. I couldn’t resist.

Obviously not fashion, but I couldn’t resist sharing this Hello Kitty that my friend Nicole got me for my birthday. Yes, I know how old I am…but I don’t care, it’s adorable!

That’s all for now. I won’t be posting next Monday or Wednesday due to a vacation in a very tropical location…but I’ll have a little recap of our trip the following Friday. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Apple Cider Doughnuts

A few weeks ago on a nice, bright Saturday morning I took a little road trip with my friend Sharla to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets.  We had a great time and scored some awesome bargains.  However, my favorite find of the whole trip was this doughnut pan from Norpro.  I have been wanting one for some time and was really excited to finally find one that was a great brand at a decent price.

The store where I bought the pan also had this apple cider doughnut mix conveniently placed next to it.  I’ve been seriously longing for an apple cider doughnut from Edwards Apple Orchard from when we lived up in Rockford.  This place is amazing…the coolest general store with all kinds of yummy stuff, finger lickin’ bbq, some of the best apple pie I’ve EVER had (and yes, we DID try a slice with cheddar cheese and it was good!!)  and their beyond drool-worthy apple cider doughnuts!  Jeremy and I have seriously discussed taking a weekend trip to Rockford just for the doughnuts at the orchard (of course I’d probably have to sneak in some Chicago shopping hehe).  They also have a petting zoo, live music and apple picking galore!  Oh how I miss it!  Apparently, they don’t have a website but here are some pics I found.

Ok so back to my doughnut mix!  I made them this past weekend with the new pan and I have to say that I loved both!  The pan worked wonderfully however, the side of the doughnuts that were in the pan got a bit darker and a tad more done than the other side.  Not an issue really, just looks kind of funny.  And the mix was great!  Not quite the caliber of the orchard doughnuts but really, really good.  We liked them hot out of the pan, brushed with butter and dipped in cinnamon and sugar but they were even better after they had cooled off and set for a while.  You could really taste the apple cider and the texture was very moist and cake-like.  Loved them!  Of course I’ll be trying from scratch doughnuts next but if I ever need any in a pinch, I’ll definitely go with this brand!

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Spiced Pumpkin Cake

My original intent for this post was that it would be a recipe for pumpkin BROWNIES (or blondies..whatever) but about a quarter of the way through whipping these up I realized that I was not going to end up with the dense, chewy, pumpkin-y brownies I was dreaming of but most likely, a cake.  And I was right.  I was definitely a little disappointed at first but got over it pretty quickly after my first bite.

It was probably one of the most moist pumpkin cakes I’ve ever had and so wonderfully spiced.  It’s good enough to stand on it’s own without frosting but would most certainly be even more awesome with a layer of cream cheese frosting or a dollop of homemade whipped cream.  I took it to a family function and didn’t bring any home, so that’s a good sign!  So, I suppose it worked out but I’m still on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin brownie recipe!

Enjoy!

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Spiced Pumpkin Cake
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 c. Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1, 15 oz. Can Solid Pack Pumpkin
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 T. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat oil and sugar. Add eggs and beat until incorporated. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and beat into wet ingredients just until combined.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Notes
Serves 18. *I also put an 11 oz. bag of butterscotch chips in these but since they weren't thick like brownies, they all sunk to the bottom half of the cake. So, it's up to you if you want to add them or not.

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The Butterfinger Bites Disaster

Homemade Butterfingers by Plain Chicken

My friend Joelle had been raving on her blog about how amazing these things were called Butterfinger Bites.  My favorite candy bar of all time is Butterfinger, so naturally I just HAD to make these.  The only ingredients are candy corn, peanut butter and chocolate.  And not only that, you make them in the microwave.  Awesome!

Supposedly these little chocolatey gems taste EXACTLY like a Butterfinger.  But I, for one, will never know.  Because I totally and completely screwed up this recipe.  How you ask?  That’s what I’m trying to figure out.  I followed the recipe and warmed the candy corn in the microwave for one minute.  They melted a little.  So I continued at 15 second intervals, stirring between each.  The candy kind of was kind of melting but it was also EXTREMELY hot and kind of starting to clump.  Uh oh.  I eventually got it into some sort of semi-melted blob and thought, ok, I’ll just throw in the peanut butter and see if it comes together.

No, it did not come together.  I could barely stir the mixture for all the clumps of candy corn in the peanut butter.  So I stuck it in the microwaved for a few seconds…and that kind of helped.  The clumps were turning into itty bitty candy corn bits.  So then I had the thought that I would throw it in my mixer and beat the crap out of it!  That didn’t help.  The tiny little candy corn pieces basically got distributed more evenly.  So I poured it into a pan and just stared at it for awhile.  There was no way this was solidifying or even tasting good.  So I threw it away.  Sigh.  So depressing.

I felt like a total failure, like I couldn’t bake at all!!  I mean, candy from a microwave?!  C’mon!  I went to the blog where the original recipe was posted to see if anyone else had issues with it…no, not one person.  Just me. So, I had to console myself by going back and looking at pictures of things I’ve made but never blogged about.  Yes, I was that depressed.  It actually cheered me up a little and reminded me that I’m not a total screw up.  Here’s my trip down memory lane…

Tons of homemade candy for the holidays…that was fun.  And I didn’t screw anything up!

14-Layer Cake with my baking buddy, Betsy.  We were pretty proud of that one.

A 1st birthday cake for a special little nephew.

Neapolitan Cheesecake Cake for a friend’s husband’s birthday.  Yum.

Maple Pecan and Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons, again with Betsy.  We got those right on the first try!  Woo hoo! Lots of high-fiving going on in the kitchen that day!

Buttered Pecan Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting for my sister-in-law Rachel’s birthday.  I think I need to make this one again…

Oreo and Cherry Birthday Cake for my friend Sarah Carter.  That was a fun one.

Ahh, I feel better.  Time to get back in the saddle!  Err, kitchen. Oh and YES, I most definitely will try to make the homemade Butterfingers again!

 

 

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Apple Recipe Roundup

It’s Monday!  Who’s excited?!  Yeah, me neither.  Thought I’d cheer you up with some delicious APPLE recipes from all over the blogosphere.  It’s that time of year….apple cake, apple cider, apple donuts, apple pie….the possibilities are endless!  And so, so delicious.

Enjoy!

Apple Rings by How To: Simplify

 

Hot Spiced Cider by Better Homes and Gardens

Apple Pie Cupcakes by Annie’s Eats

Smooth and Sweet Caramel Apple Dip by Zesty Cook

Caramel Apple Granola Cookies by Healthy Food for Living

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Popcorn

I’m not a huge popcorn fan but every now and then I do love to munch on some caramel or cheese popcorn and it’s usually around Christmas when some member of my family sees fit to lug a HUGE tin of the stuff to our family holiday dinner.  Ya know, cause there’s not enough food at those family dinners.

So the other day I remembered how my mom used to make caramel corn in the microwave.  I mean, really, really good caramel corn.  From the microwave!  She sent me the recipe and I made it for the first time ever and I have to say it’s even better than I remember as a kid.  Maybe I can appreciate it more now?  Who knows.  But for whatever reason I love the stuff and it’s very addictive.

I added my own little touch with some sea salt and then through in some homemade dark chocolate and peanut popcorn.  The recipes for both are below and they are super simple but if you only choose to do one, make the caramel corn!

Enjoy!

Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Popcorn
 
Ingredients
Salted Caramel Popcorn
  • 8 c. Popped Plain Popcorn (NO salt or butter)
  • 1 c. Packed Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, cut into chunks
  • ¼ c. Light Corn Syrup
  • ½ t. Regular Salt
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½-1 t. Fine Sea Salt (depending on how salty you want it to be)
Dark Chocolate Peanut Popcorn
  • 4 c. Popped Popcorn (NO butter or salt)
  • 1½ c. High Quality Dark Chocolate Candy Coating (NOT chocolate bark)
  • ½ c. Dry-Roasted Peanuts
Instructions
For the Salted Caramel Corn:
  1. Line a large cookie sheet pan with foil. Place Popped corn in a large brown paper bag. Set aside.
  2. Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and regular salt in a large bowl. Microwave on high setting 3-4 minutes, stirring after each minute, until mixture comes to a boil (it only took 3 minutes for mine to boil). Microwave 2 minutes longer (without stirring) and then stir in baking soda. Pour syrup mixture over popped corn in bag. Close bag and shake well. Microwave for 1½ more minutes. Shake bag well. Microwave 1-1½ minutes more (I stopped at 1 minute because it smelled slightly burned and 3 or 4 pieces did burn--no biggie, just watch it). Add the sea salt and shake bag well. Pour onto the large cookie pan. Cool and stir to separate.
For the Chocolate Peanut Popcorn
  1. Line a large cookie pan with foil. Place popped popcorn and peanuts in large brown paper bag. Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl at 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until completely melted and smooth. Pour chocolate into the bag over the popcorn and peanuts and shake well. Pour onto the cookie pan. Cool and stir to separate.
Notes
Serves...well, it depends on how well you share. :)

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Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies

I’ve not made a whole lot of pecan cookies in my life other than these Pecan Sandies, so when I found out tomorrow is National Pecan Cookie Day, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try another yummy cookie recipe.  I found this one from King Arthur for Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies.  The cookie is loaded with pecans, butterscotch chips and rolled in a sugar and salt mixture.

I of course just HAD to mess with the recipe.  I omitted the espresso and butterscotch chips and subbed in dark chocolate chips and dried cherries and then sandwiched them with marshmallow buttercream.  I really, really liked my finished product but I can’t wait to try the original version below.  Overall, this recipe makes one seriously delicious cookie.

Enjoy!

Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ cups pecan halves
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon butterscotch, vanilla-butternut, or butter-rum flavor
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1⅓ cups butterscotch chips
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 to 1¼ teaspoons salt, for topping*
  • If you're making smaller (teaspoon cookie scoop-sized) cookies, increase the coating to ½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar mixed with 1¾ to 2 teaspoons salt.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
  2. Place the pecans in a single layer in a pan, and toast till they've darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, espresso powder, baking soda, vanilla, flavor, and vinegar, beating until smooth and creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg, again beating till smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.
  5. Mix in the flour, then the chips and toasted nuts.
  6. If you're going to refrigerate the dough, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. Cookie dough refrigerated for 3½ to 4 hours will spread moderately; chilled overnight, it will spread much less.
  7. Mix the ⅓ cup sugar and salt for the coating, and put it in a bowl. Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1½" balls of dough into the sugar/salt mixture, rolling to coat. Then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2" between them on all sides; they'll spread quite a bit. Or use a teaspoon cookie scoop to scoop 1¼" balls of dough.
  8. Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes — 11 minutes for smaller cookies, 12 for larger ones. Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. (For dough that's been refrigerated, add 30 seconds to 1 minute to those baking times.) Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan till they've set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Notes
Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies. There are a few of options once you have the dough made. If you bake the cookies right away, you'll have a flatter, lighter-colored cookie. Refrigerate it for 4 to 5 hours, the cookies will be flat, but not "puddle-y." Chill overnight, and the dough dries out, with some of the starch in the flour turning to sugar. The cookies will be darker, more "caramel-y," and won't spread nearly as much. These cookies are a good candidate for the "tablespoon vs. teaspoon" scoop choice. A tablespoon cookie scoop (actually 4 level measuring teaspoons) will yield big, 3" cookies; a teaspoon scoop (1¾ level measuring teaspoons) will make smaller (2¼") cookies. Also, the sugar-salt coating can be made more or less assertive, your choice. Use the lesser amount of salt for a less adventuresome audience; the greater amount for those who love the salty/sweet experience. It's easy to make some of both; just divide the dough in half, and make the coating both ways, rolling half the cookies in the saltier coating, half in the milder.

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The Baked Brownie

Once again, I’ve missed the baking boat.  A little while ago I went searching for the ultimate brownie recipe and noticed a lot of bloggers raving about “the famous Baked brownie”.  Say what?  Please tell me I’m not the only one that doesn’t know about this brownie from a little NYC bakeshop called, well, what else…Baked!  From what I can gather, these guys made some brownies that Oprah raved about on her show which pretty much resulted to them being shot into baking stardom overnight.  Ok, so I was intrigued and got busy making the brownies.

The verdict?  Umm, the BEST BROWNIES I HAVE EVER HAD.  No joke.  They are dense, fudgy, rich and have that wonderful shiny crackle “crust” on top.  Hello, beautiful!  I was officially sold on this recipe and promptly went online to order their book and see what other awesome recipes I was missing out on.

If you love brownies, you absolutely MUST try this recipe.   Prepare for brownie heaven!  Oh yes, MILK.  Must have that, very important.  Now go bake!

The Baked Brownie
Dessert
24
 
Ingredients
  • 1¼ c. AP Flour
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 2 T. Dark Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 c. Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet)
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 t. Instant Espresso Powder (I only had instant coffee granules and used 2 teaspoons)
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • ½ c. Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 5 Large Eggs, room tempoerature
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9x13 glass or light-colored baking pan. Line with foil, letting extra hang over the sides to use as "handles". Grease the foil.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together.
  3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder (or instant coffee granules) into a large bowl and melt in the microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each time until completely melted and smooth. Add sugars and whisk until completely combined. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
  5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the foil "handles". Cut into squares and serve.

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