Pecan Pie Brownies

December2912 004

While going through my Google Reader, a recipe caught my eye. Pecan Pie Brownies? Yum, I love nuts and our Kentucky Derby Pie, which has similar ingredients, was awesome.

I did cheat and use a boxed brownie mix as the base, Ghiraradelli since they taste the most homemade in my opinion. These came together in a snap and I was enjoying a nice warm brownie in no time.

These were gooey and sweet but not as good as the pie. I may have had my hopes up a bit too high since we love the pecan and chocolate combo but I felt these could have been better. I may try again using a homemade brownie as the base but I don’t know if that will help, I just felt the topping needed a bit more flavor, salt? maybe bourbon, maple syrup? IDecember2912 006 am not sure. I will say that I ate half a pan in a day so these are by no means bad.

If you are looking for a yummy twist on a typical brownie than I would recommend these, if you however want pecan pie and chocolate, make this pie.

I rate this recipe a 7.5

Pecan Pie Brownies
from here

For the Brownie Layer (I cheated and used a box mix)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp espresso powder, optional
1/2 Tbsp vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips

For the Pecan Pie Layer
1/2 cup honey or corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2 cups chopped pecans
For the Brownie Layer
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 8″x8″ pan

In a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine.

Transfer the sugar mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl, if you’ve heated it in a saucepan. Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla.

Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth.

Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 8″x8″ pan. Bake for 10 minutes while you prepare the pecan pie layer.

For the Pecan Pie Layer
While the brownies are in the oven, mix the pecan pie layer.

In a medium bowl, combine the corn syrup and sugar. Whisk until smooth.

Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Add the melted butter and stir until combined.

Stir in the pecans.

Final Assembly
After the brownies have baked for 10 minutes, remove from oven. Pour pecan pie layer over brownies and use a spatula to spread evenly to the edges of the pan.

Return to the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until pecan pie topping is completely set.

Remove from oven and allow to cool, preferably overnight. Cut and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Chocolate Lovers Cheeecake

 

With family coming to town I once again baked up a cheesecake. It has become a tradition to eat cheesecake and drink Margarita each summer when they visit. This year while I was searching for a flavor to make, my Taste Tester suggested a chocolate one with some sort of ‘topping’ and by ‘topping’ he wanted the ganache from one of his all time favorite desserts. 

I found this recipe on Annie’s Eats and knew it would be perfect. They only changes I made were that I used a different topping. The end result was rich and sinful and so wonderfully smooth. Like all cheesecakes, this is best served after a chill in the fridge for a day or two.

If you love chocolate, this is for you, its flavor is more mild than this recipe but still packs a chocolate punch enough to satisfy your craving.

I rate this recipe a 9

Chocolate Lovers Cheesecake
from here

For the crust:
1½ cups finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs*
3 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake: 
½ cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. espresso powder or instant coffee granules
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
¼ tsp. salt
1¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature

For the glaze: (i did not use this recipe)
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

*I used this ganache recipe:

Bittersweet Ganache
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. Gently stir in the vanilla. Transfer glaze to a small bowl and cover the surface of the glaze with plastic wrap and let cool for 5 minutes at room temperature before using.

Directions:


To make the crust, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper.  In a medium bowl combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Stir with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened.  Add the crumb mixture to the springform pan and gently press about 1 inch up the sides of the pan.  Press the rest of the crumbs into an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚ F.

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper.  In a medium bowl combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Stir with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened.  Add the crumb mixture to the springform pan and gently press about 1 inch up the sides of the pan.  Press the rest of the crumbs into an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚ F.

To make the filling, combine the sour cream, vanilla, and espresso powder in a small bowl.  Whisk to blend and set aside.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (in short intervals, stirring frequently) until completely smooth.  Set aside and let cool slightly.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, cocoa powder, and salt.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the sugar and continue mixing about 2-3 minutes more, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Add the cooled chocolate to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed.  Beat in the sour cream mixture just until evenly blended.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing each just until incorporated.  (Don’t over-beat once the eggs are added or the cheesecake will puff too much.)

Pour the filling into the cooled crust.  Bake until the center jiggles very slightly when nudged, about 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1-2 hours.  Then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight.

* (I did NOT use this recipe, i followed the recipe I listed above)

To make the glaze, place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan or in the microwave.  Pour over the chocolate and let stand briefly, 1-2 minutes.  Whisk just until a smooth ganache has formed.  Whisk in the butter until completely incorporated.  Pour the glaze in an even layer over the chilled cheesecake.  Chill thoroughly.

To serve, carefully unmold the sides of the springform.  Run a sharp knife under hot water to warm the blade, and wipe dry with a towel.  Slice cleanly, wiping the blade between slices and reheating as necessary.  Serve chilled.

No Bake Chocolate Drenched Oatmeal Coconut Squares

I love coconut though I do not bake with it nearly often enough. When this recipe popped up in my GoogleReader, I starred it immediately. I love no-bake treats, especially during the warm summer months. I whipped these up over the weekend in no time.

The original recipe calls for a 9×9 pan but I opted to use an 8×8 as I wanted my bars a little more substantial and not so thin. I also found that the amount of butter/coconut oil was more than what I needed to completely wet my dry ingredients. I did melt the original amount but only used about 3/4 of it. I would recommend pouring it in and stirring slowly as you may find you don’t need to use it all either. Next time I make these I will cut the amount and see if I can find out the amount that works for me. I also cut the honey down to only 3 TBS as I did not want the flavor to overpower the coconut. I am glad I did this as I did taste the honey but it was not overpowering.

After pouring the chocolate over the bars I topped mine with toffee bits. I must say these bars were really satisfying. I liked my modifications so feel free to make these bars you own. I think some toasted coconut on top may be good as well as some chopped almonds. I will be making these again this summer I am sure.  My only complaint is these are tough to cut and transport or serve as they do tend to be a bit crumbly unless right from the fridge.

I rate this recipe an 8.5

Thin + Chewy Chocolate Drenched Coconut Oatmeal Squares
recipe found here 

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
pinch of salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (measured solid)
1/4 cup honey

Spray a 9×9 pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, brown sugar and salt. Heat a small saucepan over low heat and add butter and coconut oil, stirring until melted. Add the butter and oil to the oat mixture, then add the honey and stir very thoroughly until the entire mix is moistened. Press it into the pan and stick in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Chocolate layer

8 ounces good-quality chocolate, chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut oil (measured solid)

Using the same saucepan that you melted the butter and oil in, add the chocolate and oil and stir over low heat until melted. Remove the pan from the fridge and pour the chocolate evenly over top, spreading with a spatula or spoon. Place back in the fridge for about 30 minutes. When ready to eat, either cut the squares in the pan, or gently lift the square out and place on a cutting board to cut. It helps if the bars somewhat come to room temp before cutting, as they will slightly crumble a bit if super cold!

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce

My Taste Tester is not a big fan of peaches but I decided to give this recipe a go anyway. It was simple to make and I whipped it up in not time flat. I found the crisp to have good flavor but the the topping did not stay crisp past a day so if you are making this, it is best to serve the day you make it (preferably warm).

The sauce was smooth and creamy with a subtle maple flavor. I don’t think I reduced my sauce enough as I thought the maple flavor could have been a bit more pronounced than what it was. I enjoyed this dessert warm with some vanilla icecream. The sauce would be good on a blondie or maybe even pancakes.

This was not my favorite dessert and I doubt I will be making it again, but it was nice for a change.

I rate this recipe an 8.5

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce
from here

6-7 fresh whole peaches
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 stick Butter (1/2 Cup)
1/2 whole Lemon
7 Tablespoons Real Maple Syrup, Divided
1-1/2 cup Whipping Cream
3 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup

In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt using a fork or pastry cutter. Cut butter into small pieces and gradually add to flour mixture until evenly mixed.

Peel peaches into a bowl. Add the zest from half a lemon. Squeeze juice from lemon half and stir in with peaches and zest. Add 2 tablespoons real maple syrup to peaches, stir well.

Pour peach mixture into a small pan (8” or 9” square) and cover evenly with crumb topping. Cover with foil and bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crisp and brown on top.

Maple Cream Sauce:

Pour whipping cream into a saucepan. Add 5 tablespoons real maple syrup, 3 tablespoons corn syrup and stir over moderate heat until thickened and reduced by about one-third, approximately 15 minutes. Refrigerate mixture until it is cold and thick, or set the saucepan into a small bowl of ice (the ice will melt and turn into ice water). Stirring your mixture, it will cool and thicken in about 15 minutes. Drizzle sauce over peach crisp. Serve warm.

Mixed Berry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart

I first saw this recipe here and knew since my Taste Tester loves a berry tart, I needed to try this recipe sooner than later. I used our favorite mix of berries: strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Though there are several components to this recipe, none were difficult and it came together fairly quickly. You do need to plan ahead a bit as this is not a last minute type of dessert. The dough needs to chill for a while before baking and the crust and topping should be baked and cooled before assembling the tart.

My Taste Tester enjoyed the crust and the crumble of this tart but preferred the pastry cream from our usual tart recipe over the cream cheese filling in this one. He said he could not tell the difference between the two crusts but did really enjoy the crumble and has asked if I can make the topping again and add it to other baked goods. I may try it on top of our usual tart and see how that tastes.  My thoughts are that this tart seems like a more sophisticated version of a fruit pizza, while it is good, the cream cheese filling just didn’t do ‘it’ for me.

I would make this again for company as I do think it is a crowd-pleaser and would be great for a summer dessert.

I rate this recipe an 8

Mix Berry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart
recipe adapted from here

Cookie Dough Tart Crust:
2 tablespoons slivered almonds (I used 1/4 cup)
6 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 8 pieces
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Almond Crumb Topping:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
¼ cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped (I used a bit more)
½ cup unsalted butter, melted

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and halved (quartered if large) (I used a variety of mixed berries)

1. Make the Tart Crust: Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse repeatedly until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add the flour and salt and pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the butter and pulse again repeatedly until no visible pieces of butter remain (about 10 pulses). Add the yolks and vanilla and continue pulsing until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, shape into a thick disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften at a cool room temperature for about 20 minutes, just until it is soft enough to roll without cracking, but still firm. Unwrap it and place it on a floured surface. Use the palm of your hand to press it to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Flour the work surface and the dough and gently roll the dough into a 13-inch disk, adding pinches of flour under and on top of the dough as needed. Transfer it to a 10-inch tart pan. Evenly fit the dough into the pan, making sure it’s flat against both the bottom and side of the pan. Trim away any excess dough at the rim of the pan by rolling over with a rolling pin or scraping it away with the back of a paring knife. Slide the tart pan onto a cookie sheet, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight before baking.

3. When ready to bake, arrange the racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.

4. Make the Crumb Topping: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the chopped almonds. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the butter until all of the dry ingredients have been evenly moistened. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, then use your fingertips to break the mixture into ¼- to ½-inch crumbs. Scatter the crumbs on the prepared pan.

5. Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator, and remove the plastic wrap. Line with a piece of parchment paper and fill the pan with pie weights. Bake the tart crust in the lower third of the oven and the crumb topping in the upper third. After 10 minutes, remove the paper and pie weights from the tart shell and place it on the upper rack, and move the crumbs to the lower rack. Continue baking the tart shell until it is dry and light golden, 15 to 20 additional minutes. Bake the crumb topping until it is deep golden and firm, 10 to 15 additional minutes. Check the crumbs around the 10 minute mark and then go from there Cool the crust and the topping on wire racks.

6. Make the Cream Cheese Filling: Beat the cream cheese on medium speed just until it is smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating until lightened, about 1 minute.

7. Assemble the Tart: Spread half the cream cheese filling on the bottom of the tart crust and arrange the sliced strawberries on it, cut side down. Spread the remaining filling over the strawberries. Evenly scatter the crumb topping over the filling. Right before serving, lightly dust the topping with powdered sugar and garnish with additional strawberries, if desired. Unmold the tart from the pan and place it on a platter. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers.

Note #1: You can omit the nuts in both the crust and the crumb topping. No need to substitute anything else.

Note #2: You should assemble the tart within a few hours of serving it, as the crust will soften after it has been refrigerated.

Cakey Lemon Bars

This recipe showed up in my Google Reader a while back and I immediately bookmarked them. My Taste Tester and I love a good lemon dessert and we are in love with the lemon cheesecake I make each year for his birthday. I have tried other lemon bar recipes and was excited to give this recipe a whirl.

The texture of these bars is more cake like than a typical lemon bar (as the name states). I  thought I would like these more than I did. The lemon flavor was mild and pleasing but there is just something ‘missing’ with this recipe for me to make them again. Overall I liked them but they just did not ‘wow’ me. I may have had too high of expectations though. I did really enjoy the glaze and may use that on some fruit or on a white chocolate blondie to mix it up a bit. My Taste Tester thought they were “OK” as well but has not asked for them again which is usually a sign that the recipe is not a keeper for our house.

If you like lemon and are looking for a twist on a lemon bar, give these a go, the recipe is simple and easy and the bars are good for a refreshing summer treat.  I would recommend eating these cool as the flavor does get better after a day or so.

I rate these a 6

Cakey Lemon Bars
from here
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Zest and juice two small lemons; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachement, beat the flour, sugar, salt, and softened butter until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice until combined. Pour into the flour mixture and beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Pour into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before glazing.
When brownies are cooled completely, make the glaze by whisking together all three ingredients. Spread over the brownies with a rubber spatula, cut into bars, and serve!

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie

My Taste Tester and I spent Saturday doing outdoor chores and enjoying the Kentucky Derby. What better way to enjoy the Derby than to make a dessert? We chose a recipe I found on the internet a while back.

I had never made a pecan pie before so I don’t really have anything to compare this one to, but my Taste Tester has eaten several pecan pies in his day and said this recipe is a keeper. The chocolate compliments the sweetness of the filling by adding an extra dimension of flavor. I also added 1/2 cup toffee chips but they were not noticeably detected so I may leave them out next time.

We cheated and used a frozen pie crust (partially baked first) but doing so allowed us to be enjoying this pie in under an hour. I had some extra filling so i filled up a 4 inch ramekin and baked it for about 30 minutes as well.

If you are looking for a great pecan pie this is a keeper with or without the chocolate chips I  am sure. I would suggest eating this pie warm as it is best with the chocolate being melted and gooey.

I rate this recipe a 9

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie Recipe from here

1 10-inch Single Crust Pie Crust
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup Karo light corn syrup
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup gourmet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup toasted pecans, shelled and chopped in half if desired (I used pecan peices)
1/2 cup toffee chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll crust out crust and place in prepared pan (fluting the edges) or use a store bought pre-baked pie crust, line a 10-inch deep dish pie pan

In a large mixing bowl, on medium speed with whisk attachment, whip butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon together until frothy. Gently fold in the pecans, chocolate chips and toffee if using. Blend well.

Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until set

Serve warm