Monday, December 12, 2022

Cinnamon Toffee Almonds

Cinnamon Toffee Almonds

These tasty nuts are just a variation on the butter toffee pecans two posts ago. I decided to make them after finally giving up on finding the Salted Caramel Churro Almonds that had been available at Sam's Club earlier this year. They have been out of stock for months now. 
This recipe here is not exactly as I remember the Sam's Club almonds, but they're delicious nonetheless.
Next time I will probably use fewer almonds than I did this time (I used more than noted in the recipe below) because I just don't think mine had enough of the toffee coating. I will also use more cinnamon, as I went conservative with the ones pictured, using only 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. 

Cinnamon Toffee Almonds

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I used Morton brand)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (amount depends on your preferred level of cinnamon)
  • In a small bowl, combine the salt and cinnamon, and set aside. Then line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and also set aside.
  • In a large non-stick pan/skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.
  • Add sugar and water and stir with a silicone spatula to combine.
  • When the liquid starts to simmer and all of the sugar is melted, add the nuts.
  • Stir continually until all water is evaporated and the sugar starts to looks crusty.
  • Sprinkle the salt & cinnamon mixture evenly over the nuts and then stir.
  • Continue to stir until sugar starts to look a bit shiny on the outside of the nuts--it will not get completely shiny (see pics below for reference).
  • Pour nuts onto the prepared cookie sheet and separate the nuts as much as possible with the silicone spatula or other heat-proof utensil.
  • Allow nuts to cool completely before enjoying. Nuts will get crunchier as they cool.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Sugar is melted and ready for nuts.

Add salt & cinnamon when nuts look like this.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Heidi's Pecan Pie

Heidi's Pecan Pie

Last Thanksgiving was the first time I ever actually tasted pecan pie. Call me an apple-pie-person. At any rate, my dear sister-in-law Heidi always makes the pecan pie for Thanksgiving dinner. She really just follows the recipe on the back of the Karo Syrup bottle, with one small tweak: she adds a teaspoon of butter flavor/extract, and it really makes all the difference in the world.

The fact that Heidi's pecan pie is superior to other pecan pies was proven to me yesterday when I tried some Perkins Restaurant pecan pie that was left over from our holiday meeting at work. The pecan pie tasted fine, but not delicious, and not really worth the calories, in my opinion. (Sorry, Perkins.) The big difference, I think, was the butter flavor. Mmmm.

So, if you are already a pecan pie fan, or are open to the idea, give this recipe a whirl. Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as I have. 

(Note: The pie picture here is a half-recipe pie baked in a 6-inch glass pie pan.)

Heidi's Pecan Pie
   -- Adapted from Karo Syryp's Homemade Pecan Pie recipe

  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 eggs, beaten lightly, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavor/extract
  • 1 3/4 cup pecans (about 8 oz)
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust (see recipe below)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.
  • Place the corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and butter flavor/extract into a bowl and stir with a spoon.
  • Stir in the pecans.
  • Place the unbaked pie crust onto the prepared baking sheet, and then pour the liquid & pecan mixture into the pie crust.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pie reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely and then refrigerate so the pie can set up. After that you can serve cold or at room temperature.
  • Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 9-inch pie

(Note: the pie pictured here is a half-size pie.)

Liquid ingredients mixed and ready for pecans

You'll end up with quite a bit of pie crust scraps.

Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice cold water
  • Place flour and salt in a medium size bowl and stir to distribute the salt evenly.
  • Cut in the 4 tablespoons of butter until butter is in 1/4-inch chunks.
  • Cut in the vegetable shortening until the shortening is in 1/4-inch chunks, and the butter is cut pretty finely.
  • Add the cold water to the mixture by sprinkling in one tablespoon at a time while you toss with a fork. 
  • After you've added 3 tablespoons of water, try squeezing the dough together. If it does not stick well, add up to 1 more tablespoon of water and mixt just until combined. You will have a lot of dry parts, but that's okay.
  • Start pressing and squeezing the dough to form a cohesive ball. Try not to overwork the dough or else you'll end up with a tough crust.
  • Once the dough is cohesive, place a 1 foot piece of plastic wrap on the counter and then try to form the dough into a disk on top of the plastic. Smoosh the disk to about 6-7 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the pie filling.
  • Roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. 
  • If dough is nowhere near a perfect circle shape, cut off a piece that sticks out, dab with a little water, and place on a spot that needs more dough. Continue to roll out until you have a circle of crust that will fill the pie plate.
  • If you're not sure what to do at this point, you're probably best off going over to Youtube to see how other people form and shape their pie crust. My words won't do the process justice.
  • Makes one 9-inch pie crust 
Mixture before adding water

After stirring in water

The cohesive mass

Wrapped and ready for refrigeration

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

  • 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)

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

In a large non-stick pan/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.
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

  • 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
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

  • 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
  • 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

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