Sunday, April 3, 2022

Butter Toffee Pecans

 Butter Toffee Pecans
   

These pecans have been a bit of an obsession for me for a few years. I don't really think they're actually like the Savannah's Candy Kitchen glazed pecans that I've missed since the pandemic closed their Atlanta Airport location, but they ARE much like the butter toffee pecans I bought at H.E.B. on our trip to Houston. This is good enough for me.

The sweet candy coating is thick in some spots and barely there in others--just the way I like it. These butter toffee pecans are so flavorful and rich, that just a few satisfy my sweet tooth.
When I made this batch, I used toasted pecans, but next time I will use raw ones because the candying process made these pecans almost a little too well done. Still tasty, but not quite perfection.

I suppose this method of making candied nuts would work on other nuts. The recipe below is sort of a conglomeration of different recipes I found on Pinterest. Since I tweaked and borrowed from so many recipes, though, I'm writing down here what I did so I will be able to recreate these the next time I want to make them, which could be a while. (My memory isn't as sharp as I'd like it to be sometimes.)

So there you go, my rambling preface to these delicious nuts. (Insert sound of a middle school boy giggling.)

Butter Toffee Pecans

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups raw pecan halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I used Morton's brand)
Instructions:

Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large non-stick skillet set over medium heat (err on the low side here, so as to not burn the sugar), melt butter and then add the sugar and water. Stir gently with a silicone spatula and bring to a simmer.

Once it's simmering and it seems the sugar is melted, add the pecans and stir to coat.

Continue to stir and coat for a while. The water will evaporate and the sugar will get grainy and look terrible.

Sprinkle the salt evenly over the sugary pecans, and continue to stir.

Eventually, the sugar will start to melt and get shiny. Keep stirring until most of the sugar has that shiny appearance and there is only a little bit of grainy-looking sugar left in the crevases of the pecans.

Pour pecans onto the prepared parchment-lined baking sheet and use the silicone spatula to spread the nuts out and separate the ones that are stuck together. At this point you can either use two silicone spatulas, or get two forks out for this job. See what works for you.

When pecans are mostly separated, allow to cool completely before tasting. Serve/eat or store in an airtight container until ready to serve/eat.

Makes a little over 2 cups of butter toffee pecans (honestly, I haven't measured)


Butter, sugar, and water
Add pecans to liquid.
Stir.
Sugar will look grainy before it gets shiny
.
Nuts start to clump together as sugar melts.
Stir until all nuts are shiny.
Pour nuts onto parchment lined pan.
Nuts are separated and cooling.
Shiny, crisp, sweet, and delicious



Saturday, April 2, 2022

Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies

Macadamia Nut Shortbread


These delightful shortbread cookies are a variation on another shortbread cookie recipe. To the previous recipe I added more sugar in the form of granulated white sugar and a little salt. I really like the results. These cookies are buttery, crisp, tender, and just sweet enough. 

If you don't have macadamia nuts, pecans or almonds would work great too.
If you decide to make these, be sure to use fresh, quality ingredients because the simplicity of the ingredients ensure you will taste each one. Today I used Kerrygold butter, and I think it really made these more delicious. 


Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups real butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (shaken to level)
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour (shaken to level)
  • 1 scant cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup finely chopped roasted macadamia nuts, or other preferred nut
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar for rolling
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large mixer bowl, cream together the butter, powdered sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and mix.
Add the flour, cornstarch and salt, and mix just until combined.
Mix in the nuts being careful to not overmix.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in sugar and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 
Flatten with a greased cookie stamp or flat-bottomed glass.
Bake for 11-13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. 
Remove shortbreads to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 5 dozen 2-inch cookies



Dough ready to scoop

Dough balls rolling in sugar


Before baking

Fresh out of the oven


I have to give most of these away.







Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Bite Size Dove Chocolate & Pecan Cookies

Bite Size Dove Chocolate & Pecan Cookies

The beauty of this recipe is not so much in the ingredients and baking--it's in the way the cookies are formed. I love baking, clearly, and when I transitioned from full-time mom/part-time teacher to full-time teacher/full-time mom several years ago, I realized I needed a more efficient way to make my cookie dough. 

I mean, I always try to prepare my cookie dough so I can freeze part of it for later use, but the scooping, freezing, and bagging still took longer than I wanted it to. I think I realized that I could do what Pillsbury had started doing with their dough: lay it out in a slab and cut it into squares. You may not end up with a perfectly round cookie, but I care more about easy access to freshly baked cookies than I do about perfect symmetry.

All that being said, these cookies do taste fantastic. I mean, Dove Dark Chocolate makes any cookie better. The browning of the butter is a tip I learned from my new favorite celebrity chef, Claire Saffitz, who seems to advocate for browning butter for most recipes calling for butter. Check her out. Her recipes are awesome, and she is absolutely delightful.

So there. Go make some cookies and be happy. 

Bite Size Dove Chocolate & Pecan Cookies

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1 bag Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, unwrapped & chopped (or 9-12 oz other dark chocolate or chocolate chips
Instructions:
  • Optional: Place half of the butter in a heat-proof bowl, and set aside. Brown the other half of the butter and pour over the butter waiting in the bowl. (For instructions on browning butter, watch this video, starting around 6:58. And watch the whole video for the best oatmeal cookie recipe.)
  • While butter cools, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and both sugars in a medium sized bowl. Stir with a whisk and use your clean fingers to break up any chunks of brown sugar. Set aside.
  • Once butter is close to room temperature, place in the bowl of standing mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment) along with the eggs and vanilla. Mix until emulsified and smooth. This takes a few minutes.
  • Pour in the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Lift up the paddle and stir in any dry bits that remain in the bottom of the bowl.
  • Pour in the chopped chocolate and pecans. Mix on low until combined. If this is taking too long, just stir by hand. You do not want to over-mix your cookie dough.
  • Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment. Pour the cookie dough into the lined pan, and use a spoon or silicone spatula to start pressing the dough evenly into the pan. Finish pressing the dough into the pan by covering with a sheet of wax paper and pressing with your flat hands. 
  • Freeze the dough for at least 2 hours. If you think you need to leave it in the freezer over night, cover wrap before freezing.
  • Once frozen, use a sharp knife to cut the dough into little cubes.
  • Bake as many cubes as you'd like at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-9 minutes for softer cookies, 10-12 minutes for crisp cookies.
  • Place remaining dough cubes into a large zip top bag and keep frozen until you want more cookies.
Makes somewhere between 160 and 190 little cookies










Sunday, September 19, 2021

Dark Chocolate & Brown Sugar Cookies (Brownie Cookies)

Dark Chocolate Brown Sugar Cookies


I found this recipe on Instagram, and I've made it several times already. I hadn't intended to add it to this blog, but I don't have a better system of locating recipes I like, even if I've saved them on Pinterest or Instagram. Plus (sorry Callmepmc) the original website has too many pop-up adds and preliminary text for my desired baking speed, so I'm putting the recipe here for easy reference. 
I've also doubled the original recipe because 1. They are THAT good, and 2. The dough freezes nicely for baking later.
These cookies might better be named "Brownie Cookies" because that's really what they are: brownies in cookie form. They have the perfect level of sweetness and moisture. Their flavor and texture are remarkably satisfying. Chocolatey, dense, sweet, buttery. Mmm.
I like adding the nuts on the outside, and sometimes I will roll them in chocolate sprinkles (vermicelli). They're also fantastic plain. 
That's all I have to say for now. Give these a try, and I'm pretty certain you will want to save this recipe too.

Note: Today I went all Claire Saffitz on these cookies and browned half of the butter. It's the first time I've tried that with these cookies, and you should feel free to NOT brown the butter if you so choose.


Dark Chocolate & Brown Sugar Cookies
      Adapted from Callmepmc.com

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (I used half dark/half light)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (any Dutch processed cocoa is good)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 cups chopped toasted nuts (optional)
Instructions:
  • Brown half the butter by placing it in a small saucepan over medium heat. Melt and stir occasionally until there are browned bits in the bottom and it isn't sputtering very much. Allow browned butter to cool completely before adding it to the other ingredients. (I learned the hard way you need to wait until it's cooled.)
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the other 1/2 cup of butter and brown sugar. 
  • Pour cooled browned butter into the mixing bowl over the butter and sugar. Mix on high for about 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on high for another 2-3 minutes until incorporated.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, & salt. Stir into the wet mixture until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour.*
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit & line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Scoop dough into about 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoon portions and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
  • If you would like nuts in/on your cookies, roll the raw dough ball in the chopped nuts to cover and gently press nuts in to make sure they stick. 
  • Flatten the cookies slightly with your fingers so you end up with a 1/2 inch thick disk.
  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 9-10 minutes, or until puffed and edges are set. 
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container.
*If you do not want to bake all of your dough in one day, you can form the balls (& optionally roll in nuts), flatten, and freeze on a baking sheet. When cookie dough disks are completely frozen, transfer to a gallon sized zip-top bag. I would recommend using frozen dough within 3 months.











Sunday, August 1, 2021

Babka (Two Kinds: Chocolate and Pecan Cinnamon)

Chocolate Babka

Pecan Cinnamon Babka

Twice the Babka awesomeness

I've been seeing lots of posts on Instagram of people making babka, or at least making breads using the technique of slicing a rolled log of dough lengthwise and twisting. And since this seems to be a summer of baking and blogging, AND since I purchased another pair of 7" x 3" loaf pans, I decided it was time I tried my hand at babka, even though I've never tasted it before now.

If you want a more straightforward recipe that does not involve making small loaves of two different kinds of babka, you may want to look at the recipes from Food & Wine and Butternut Bakery linked here. I'm just going to describe what I did because it's all I know.

What is produced from the recipe below is even more delightful than I expected. Crisp on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside bread with such flavorful fillings that made my mouth and my tummy very happy. I think I like the pecan cinnamon version slightly better because it develops this super tasty, chewy, caremely crust. The pecan flavor really stands out as I cut the amount of cinnamon in half, and it is just so, so good. I can't even do it justice with words. You just have to try it.

I've said too much already. If you've never made or eaten babka before, I think this is a solid recipe. If you're used to baking, you can probably adjust pan sizes to fit what you have at home. I think if you have standard size loaf pans, you could used these same amounts and just end up with one loaf of each kind.

Go ahead and do it. You know you want to.


Babka
Adapted from Food & Wine and Butternut Bakery

Bread Ingredients:
  • 4 cups King Arthur All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 10 tablespoons butter (salted) cut into tablespoons, room temperature
Chocolate Filling Ingredients:
  • 4.5 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped (I used 13 Dove Milk Chocolate Promises)
  • 1.5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 4 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup finely ground chocolate wafer cookies (I used Oreos w/ filling scraped out)
  • 1.5 tablespoons honey
Pecan Cinnamon Ingredients:
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup crushed toasted pecans
Chocolate Glaze Ingredients:
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 18 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises)
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped (I used 6 Dove Milk Chocolate Promises)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Instructions for Dough:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
  • In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk, egg, and egg yolk.
  • Using the dough hook attachment, mix at low speed until ingredients are incorporated. Then turn to medium and mix until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes.
  • Add all of the butter and mix on low speed until butter in completely incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides down the sides as needed during mixing. Continue mixing until you have a uniform "tacky dough."
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Divide dough in half, and form each half into a flat square, about 3/4 to 1 inch in thickness.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Instructions for the Chocolate Filling:
  • In the top of a double boiler, melt the chopped chocolates with the butter. Stir occasionally until smooth and then allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Once cooled, stir in ground cookies and honey.
Instructions for the Pecan Cinnamon Filling:
  • Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl.
Assembling the Babka:
  • Line 4 loaf pans (7" x 3") with parchment paper (see photo below). Then butter the parchment paper with a thin layer of butter. Set aside.
  • Remove dough squares from the refrigerator, and on a surface lightly greased with vegetable oil, roll out one of the dough squares to a rectangle approximately 11" x  20".
  • Spread one of the fillings evenly over the surface of the dough using an offset spatula. Leave a margin on one of the long sides of about 1/4 inch.
  • Using the edge of a bench scraper if necessary, roll the dough lengthwise fairly tightly. Press gently to seal the end once you're done rolling.
  • Cut the dough log into two equal logs.
  • Cut each of the shorter logs in half lengthwise.
  • Flip one of the halves so that you have one narrow end and one wide end for each of the loaf ends (see pics below).
  • Carefully twist the two halves keeping the cut sides up.
  • Place the twisted loaf into a prepared pan and then repeat with the other half log.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until puffed, but not necessarily doubled, about 2 hours.
  • Repeat with the other dough square and prepared filling.
Baking the Babka:
  • While loaves rise, preheat the oven to 365 degrees Fahrenheit (I combined two different recipes, so I somewhat averaged the recommended temps).
  • When loaves have risen, bake at 365 degrees for about 38-42 minutes, or until well browned and springy to the touch on top.
  • Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack in the loaf pans for about 5 minutes before removing the bread from the pans using the parchment lining to lift the loaves up and out.
  • Allow loaves to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Instructions for the Chocolate Babka Glaze:
  • In a double boiler, melt the chopped chocolates with the butter. Stir until smooth and then stir in the corn syrup. 
  • Spoon the glaze evenly over the cooled chocolate babka loaves.
  • Allow chocolate to set before cutting the chocolate babka. This will take 30-60 minutes.

Once babkas are cooled and set, you can slice and eat.

Store uneaten babka in a sealed bag or container, freezing leftovers you do not plan to eat within two days.

Makes 4 small loaves


This is such an involved recipe, I have way too many pics. These are just a few. Click on this link to see a video of how the folks at Food and Wine made the chocolate Babka. They formed it differently than I did, but it's a good way to see much of the process.

3" x 7" on the left & 4" x 8.25" (standard) on right















Scrumptious pecan cinnamon Babka

Delicious chocolate Babka


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