Tag Archives: Pecans

Saltine Christmas Bark

Saltine Christmas Bark

This Saltine Christmas Bark is the perfect holiday treat made in mere minutes. You get the best of both world’s, sweet and salty plus a crunch from the Saltine cracker base! It starts with crushed peppermint candy (my favorite), or pecans, then a layer of creamy chocolate leading into the slightly chewy toffee which all sets up on a crunchy saltine cracker! Oh my goodness, bring it on!

The fun part about making this Saltine Christmas Bark is breaking up this giant slab of goodness into randon size pieces. You kind of feel like an artist deciding how big and even the shape of the final outcome! Plate them up and voilà your masterpiece. These also make great holiday gift’s that you can fancy up in decorative celophane candy bags with ribbon.

Let your holiday Saltine Christmas Bark making be extra special with my Bolognese Sauce, a scrumptious recipe I developed thru inspiration from a favorite pasta dish where I went to college in Urbino, Italy. If you’re now thinking Italian you should try my chicken Piccata, a savory white wine, capers and mushroom sauce that’s delectable. Maybe Lobster Mac N’ Cheese is more your style! Or you could be looking for a “Steak-House” Creamed Spinach that pairs up nicely with steak or fish! Since we are so close to the holidays what better time to make the most amazing chocolate pecan pie ever!

025

001

lobmac

img_8865

wholepiepecan

 

 

img_9624

img_9642

img_9646

 

 

 

christtoffee

img_9653

pourtoffee

 

 

 

 

chrisspread

img_9664

chrischocspread

 

 

 

 

img_9640

img_9668

img_9702

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 pkgs saltine
  • 1 cup butter – 2 sticks
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups “mini” semi-sweet chocolate chips (if you can’t get “mini” the regular size is fine)
  • 5 pepermint candies – finely crush peppermnt candy in a Ziplock with a rolling pin – My Favorite!
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans, walnuts, m&m’s, or …what ever you want to sprinkle onto the melted chocolate chips
  • Non-stick aluminum foil – regular foil works too!
  • 12 x 17 Cookie tray

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º
  2. Cover cookie tray with aluminum foil
  3. Arrange 48 crackers on your cookie tray, you may have to break or cut some in 1/2 to get to the edges
  4. Chop up pecans, walnuts or macadamia nuts and set aside
  5. Put candy canes in a ZipLock baggie, cover with a dish towel and give a few hits from your rolling pin to crush the candy to small and powder-like pieces, set aside
  6. Over medium – Med/high heat add 1 cup light brown sugar and 1 cup butter to a deep sauce pan
  7. Stir in the beginning ONLY to combine then leave it alone
  8. Bring to a boil and TURN DOWN to medium and let boil 3 MINUTES
  9. Immediately pour over laid out saltine crackers and spread the toffee with an offset spatula so it covers every saltine
  10. Then pop into oven for 5 minutes
  11. Take out and the toffee will be bubbly, IMMEDIATELY pour “mini” semi-sweet chocolate chips all over the top (if you can’t get “mini” the regular works just as well)
  12. Let the chips sit for about 5 minutes to soften up
  13. Using your offset spatula spread the softened chocolate chips covering all the toffee
  14. Immeduiately after spreading chocolate take your crushed candy cane and nuts and begin to sprinkle over the wet chocolate
  15. NOTE: You want to sprinkle toppings BEFORE the chocolate sets so it STICKS to the top
  16. Pop the whole cookie tray into the fridge for 45 minutes – 1 hour to set OR freezer for 20-25 minutes if you are in a rush
  17. Take out of fridge, remove foil and begin to break up the saltine Christmas bark into what ever size you like…mangia mangia!

 

Drunk Blondies & Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Drunk Blondies & Bourbon Caramel Sauce

IMG_6622Drunk blondies are a dessert that will have you and your guest’s reminiscing for days! These drunk blondies are a buttery, chewy cookie bar made with bourbon, butter, toasted coconut, pecans and semi-sweet chocolate chips…could it get any better then that! They get even more decadent when you serve them with vanilla ice cream, homemade bourbon caramel sauce, whipped cream and extra toasted coconut to top it off. In fact, I wouldn’t serve them any other way. You will feel like you are in dessert ecstasy!

The recipe for these mouth watering cookie bars actually originates from the Back in the Day Bakery CookBook by Cheryl and Griffith Day. I Found this recipe on a fellow food blogger, Adam Robert’s website, called Amateur Gourmet. I haven’t had a chance myself to buy this cookbook but it’s high on my list! Adam serves up these drunk blondies with a bourbon caramel sauce from Food and Wine but I have my own which I love that I share below.

The Drunk Blondie bars couldn’t get any easier to make. You don’t even need a kitchen aid or electric mixer to make these just a large bowl and spatula or wooden spoon! It literally take’s all of a few minutes to combine the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, bourbon, toasted coconut, pecans, chocolate chips and flour mixture. Then off into a baking dish lined with parchment for easy removal.

This is a great dessert if you entertain a lot because is it’s a total make ahead project. You can make the drunk blondies up to 3 days ahead and the bourbon caramel sauce up to a week ahead. The toasted coconut you want to make the same day or night before. You may burn the toasted coconut on your first try because that cooks faster then you think and you only have 6 minutes of toasting time. Don’t worry, just toss out the first round and throw in a second batch. You will be that much more knowledgeable and ready for the toasty quickness in the next round! Be sure to toast up extra coconut too, because it makes for an incredible addition at the end to sprinkle on top of your drunk blondie sundae’s!

As for my bourbon caramel sauce I have you heat up the heavy cream. This is a necessary step that some recipes don’t even mention.  It’s important to do this because adding cold cream into a boiling sugar mixture will most likely seize up and get temporarily lumpy.  There’s no worries here though. If this does happen just put the pan back on the stove, keep whisking and it will become a smooth caramel sauce in a matter of seconds!

Hope you enjoy the amazing drunk blondie sundae’s with ice cream, bourbon caramel sauce and toasted coconut. If you are putting together a whole meal you could start with an appetizer like crab cakes, spanakopita triangles, my famous Caesar salad, salmon BLT sliders, or move right to a main course like my bolognese sauce right from Urbino, Italy made with homemade spaghetti!

DSCN45211-300x225

cookedspanDSCN4572-300x225IMG_2624IMG_4327

IMG_6501IMG_6540IMG_6542

IMG_6550IMG_6561IMG_6622

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for Drunk Blondies – Makes 12 – 24 bars 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter – melted
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temp
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons Bourbon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup (1/2 cup is for sprinkling over the dessert at the end) sweetened flaked coconut, toasted in a 350º oven on a cookie sheet until fragrant and golden brown – about 5 minutesNOTE: you need to stir every 2 minutes with a spatula and then shake the tray to distribute evenly ….watch it carefully- it burns easily
  • 1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

 Directions – Pre-Heat Oven to 350º:

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan and line with parchment, allowing the ends of the paper to hang over two opposite edges of the pan
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside
  4. Put the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir with a spoon until smooth
  5. Add the eggs, vanilla, and bourbon, and mix until thoroughly combined
  6. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the pecans, coconut, and chocolate chips
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack
  9. Cut the blondies into bars
  10. The blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Tip: The easiest way to toast coconut is in the oven. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350º. Spread the coconut on a baking tray and bake for 6 minutes, tossing every couple of minutes. Keep a close eye on the coconut, because it can burn easily.

IMG_6569IMG_6579IMG_6583

 

 

 

IMG_6598IMG_6603blonide

IMG_6607IMG_6622

Ingredients for Bourbon Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream HEATED – If you don’t warm up the cream the temperature change will temporarily seize up the boiling water-sugar mixture…BUT don’t fret because all you need to do if this happens is put the pan back on the stove while whisking CONTINUOUSLY and it will all come back to a nice smooth sauce!

Directions for Bourbon Caramel Sauce:

    1. In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil over high heat
    2. You can stir the sugar-water mixture at first just to combine then DO NOT STIR after
    3. Cook until the sugar is dissolved washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush…just once
    4. Continue cooking without stirring until an amber caramel forms – from 5-8 minutes
    5. When it turns the pretty light amber color add in the butter and keep whisking
    6. BE CAREFUL NOT TO GET BURNED HERE because the mixture will rise up a little here at the butter/cream stages
    7. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in 1/2 the cream while STILL WHISKING – it will foam up here quite a bit so whisk it down slightly, then add in the rest of the cream and butter
    8. if it seizes up NO WORRIES all you need to do if this happens is put the pan back on the stove while whisking CONTINUOUSLY and it will all come back to a nice smooth sauce!
    9. Let cool for 1 minute and then stir in the bourbon
    10. Put the pan back on the stove and TURN DOWN the heat to medium and simmer any where from 3-15 minutes…how ever thick you like the sauce (it won’t get any darker at this point either just thicker)
    11. Let the caramel sauce cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature
    12. NOTE: as the sauce cools it will thicken anyways
    13. The caramel sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Homemade Chocolate Pecan Pie at Barbara’s

Homemade Chocolate Pecan Pie at Barbara’s

barbarapieBarbara’s homemade chocolate pecan pie is like nothing you’ve had before. Not only do you get that gooey texture with a hint of nutty caramel because it’s a pecan pie but a chocolaty finish slides right on in and makes you say wow! Gooey, nutty, caramel, chocolate …need I say MORE?  In fact, it is plenty chocolaty so if you wanted to nibble on those “special dark” Hershey’s chocolate chips while you are making the pie feel free it wouldn’t make the pie any less delicious.

When Barbara first delivered her scrumptious homemade pecan pie to my house I was beside myself. I just couldn’t believe my eyes and with an invitation to her Christmas Eve party to top it off which she also cooks for. I later found out that she makes seventy pies that get hand delivered with the invite to her party. It all began fifteen years ago at a surprise party her husband Peter threw for her where stories evolved of first meetings with Barbara and her gifts of homemade chocolate pecan pie. From that point on the pie numbers grew and it now totals out at around 72 pies.

This gourmet chocolate pecan pie of Barbara’s has become a tradition for many of the families on her pie list that wait in anticipation of her delivery in order to take the pie to their relatives on Christmas Day. This pie freezes extremely well and slicing it before freezing making for easy removal without having to thaw the whole pie is ideal. I must say though eating my slice right out of the freezer before it thaws is my new favorite way…wait til you try it!

Barbara is very busy in the month of December when all the pies get baked and delivered. She does get things going back in September though putting in an order for a twenty-two pound box of pecans from Georgia which arrive around Thanksgiving time. Then the whole process takes off from the chopping of the pecans in the food processor,  measuring exact amounts placed into baggies and stored in the frig , to purchasing large bottles of Karo syrup that are shelved until needed and so on until December is upon her and the baking begins.

IMG_4416This truly is a labor of love for Barbara and I’m very grateful to have become a part of this amazing tradition and see first hand how inspirational she is. You can see for yourself and hear some of the extremely funny stories that go along with Barbara’s pie making in my “Homemade Chocolate Pecan Pie Show” above. I hope you enjoy the show and now you too can make this blueberrypiehomemade chocolate pecan pie part of your family tradition. If you have the time and are only making a pie or two you can check out my “Perfect Pie Crust In 5 Minutes Recipe” or even myBest Blueberry Pie!recipe if you are looking to have a second pie 😉

IMG_2058

IMG_2062

IMG_2080

IMG_2077

IMG_2083

 

 

 

IMG_2086

IMG_2095

IMG_2106

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients – Pre-Heat oven to 375º:

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (on the finer side but NOT a powder)
  • handful pecan halves for decoration
  • 6 oz. HERSHEY’S Special Dark chocolate chips (full bag for 2 pies)
  • 1 cup light Karo corn syrup -NOTE: Spraying the inside of measuring cup with Pam vegetable or coconut oil will help the Karo syrup ease out (full bottle of Karo for 2 pies)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup melted butter and cooled to ROOM TEMPERATURE or LUKE WARM
  • 1 1/2 Tsp pure vanilla
  • 4 lg eggs lightly beaten (WITHOUT any frothiness occurring)
  • 1 pkg. Pillsbury Prepared Pie Crusts ROOM TEMPERATURE@ (2 crusts inside)
  • 1 tsp all purpose flour
  • 1 – 9″ deep dish pie plate

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle 1 tsp of flour onto the bottom of the pie plate just to act as a light coating
  2. Lay out room temperature pie dough into pie plate and form edges like a scallop shell as shown in show above
  3. In a large bowl mix luke warm butter and sugar to combine with a whisk
  4. Add in Karo Syrup and vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture and combine with a whisk
  5. Lastly, add in already whisked eggs and gently whisk to combine only – Don’t want froth
  6. Mix in chocolate chips and ground pecans and mix with a spatula
  7. Pour into pie shell
  8. Decorate the top of the pie with pecan halves
  9. Add rim covering on top of pie so crust does not burn
  10. Bake for 55-60 minutes
  11. Let cool slightly, slice and serve with bourbon, scotch, wine, coffee or milk…oh and also great with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream 😉
  12. Freezes incredibly well- make sure to cut into slices before you freeze for easy removal. In fact, I love the texture of having the chocolate pecan pie right out of the freezer without thawing! – you should try it this way 🙂