#35, White Chocolate Pecan Bars

“This bar cookie has a really nice brown sugar shortbread base with a topping of white chocolate and pecans.” (p. 63)

RECIPE LINK

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The star of the show! This is turning out to be a white chocolate week.

Basic rule of life: Start at the bottom and work your way up. This rule is not always obeyed by clever or lucky people. Where am I going with this? I don’t know. Just wanted to point out that I prepared the topping for this cookie before preparing the dough. See how my brain (doesn’t) work(s).

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Chop, chop! My version of roughly chopped white chocolate bars and French walnuts. Both of these piles are destined for the topping.
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The Italian Spatula

All of the brownie and cookie doughs that have lots of stuff inside need a strong spatula for mixing. I use my gelato scoop. I’ve mentioned this before, but love the gelato scoop so thought I’d mention it again.

TECHNIQUE NOTE: When mixing things like chocolate chips and chopped nuts into a stiff dough, I use the folding technique that is used to fold whipped egg whites into batters. Why? 1) its my way of achieving a more even distribution of stuff throughout the dough, and 2) I want to be careful with some things that I don’t want to smush.

THREE QUICK IMAGES

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Spreading the thick, thick, thick batter onto the prepared pan. This AIN’T that easy.
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Spreading melted chocolate chunks onto the top of the cooling brownie. FUN. (Thanks, Andrew, for the gif. app !)
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Final touch. Sprinkling MORE chopped walnuts onto this cookie. (Thanks again, Andrew ! Love the gif. app!)

And, finally, what it’s all about!

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Four pieces for the family. The rest for friends and followers.

Some of these are destined for the Elementary PE Department. Are you friends with the PE department? Good time to start making friends. You can say you’re “looking for learning.””

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See what I learned this morning?

#34, Blondies with White and Dark Chocolate Chunks

“A moist and chewy butterscotch bar with two kinds of chocolate and lots of walnuts.” (p. 82)

RECIPE LINK

– OR –

My reluctant biscotti

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My first confection with real white chocolate. A birthday treat for a special girl who just turned 13.

What’s the meaning of this “reluctant biscotti” tag? Well (Please allow me to say “well” a lot. I don’t know what else to substitute to introduce my unexpectedness, excuse-making remarks.).. Well, these chewy brownies turned out like crusty biscotti. OK, they were a little more moist than biscotti, but not much. They were crusty, crumbly, tastey, but very cookie like and not chewy – except maybe for a couple of squares toward the middle of the pan. But, HEY!, I’ve already jumped to the end right at the beginning. What’s that about? Hmmmm. And what if my life-sharing friends and family don’t agree with my assessment? HEY-HEY, it’s their/your assessment that really counts. Reserving just a little space for the francophone artist in me that gets to throw a fit about his cooking no matter what the world says — but just a very little space. OK?

Hmmm. How did this begin? Where did it all start? Aha!

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It started with these goodies. But I decided not to include the kisses – even though these were a birthday treat.

And where’d it go from there? Oh yah. Now I remember.

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Brown sugar, butter, flour + 2 eggs = the brownie dough

And then what? Then what?

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Then what? What else?

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Looks can be deceiving? I need my taste testers from lower elementary Art department to let me know what they think about this brownie that I call “my reluctant biscotti”.

Meanwhile..

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Think I’ll take this outside for my morning wake up.

HUMILITY NOTE: From the beginning of this blog, my goal has been to establish a standard skill set to produce the product in a consistent way before going my own way. It’s easy to say, “Hey it didn’t work out, but it was still good.” This MAY be such a case, although this brownie-turned-cookie is open for critique. There are some recipes in the book for pie. I think one of them is called “Humble”. (wink)

#33 Pumpkin Walnut Cookies with Brown Butter Frosting (p. 41)

A “spicy cakelike cookie”. (p. 41)

RECIPE LINK

This recipe went off without a hitch.

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Portentious (sp?) picture? Icing on top, cookie below.

In you go!

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Out of the oven…

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Add a little something extra…

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Brown butter frosting and a walnut half to be exact.

Then back into the fire .. so to speak.

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Got to give these away. Got any ideas?

HAVE A SWEET DAY!

#32 Apple Pecan Quick Bread (p.22)

“Here’s a terrific quick bread for any time of the day. This bread is great when lightly toasted and spread with some cream cheese.” (p. 22)

RECIPE LINK

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Such a quick and easy thing to make.

The quick breads ARE easy. Hard to find an excuse not to make one, especially if you plan on sharing it.

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Love putting fruit into oven-baked goodies.

Just stir.

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But don’t stir too much. Keeps things tender.

Pop it in. Pop it back out.

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Pop it back in again.

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See how easy that was!

This is an “apples and oranges” delight – judging by the way my kids went after it.

#31, Carrot Cake, p. 102

“We didn’t make carrot cake at the bakery, but this is a cake that Allysa makes often at home.”(p. 102)

I made this cake for a colleague. It was her birthday and carrot cake is one of her favorites.

RECIPE LINK

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Bipitty, biopitty, boo.                                                     (I hyperventilate if I watch this for too long.)

This day, October 30, was a 2-recipe day, that explains all this stuff on the table. I baked the Magnolia carrot cake and a batch of fruitcake muffins. Let’s just take a look at the carrot cake on this blog.

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What about that carrot cake? Well, there were detours, and I’ll explain why.

DETOUR(S): Why? I baked a carrot cake for some friends about a year ago and they kinduh went crazy over it. I felt the need to respect and try to repeat that success. I followed the Magnolia recipe, in principle, but made a few changes.

  • The FORM of the cake – which carried icing implications. I used a Maryann Cake Pan. No icing on the side of this. About the only thing it tolerates is a confectioners sugar dusting.
Maryann Cake Pan
Maryann Cake Pan

The pan creates a well at the top that MUST be filled with some gooey-goodie.

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Waiting for the gooey-goodie stuff.

  •  The FLOUR. Magnolia only calls for all-purpose flour. At least that’s all I’ve seen so far. My earlier success with this cake had a combination of flours, so 1) I kept Magnolia’s portions, but 2) divided it between four different flours:
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup whole wheat
    • 1/2 cup barley
    • 1/2 cup spelt  (These older, whole grain flours contain more protein and add a nutty, already sweet flavor to a cake or muffin.)
  • PINEAPPLE. The recipe calls for one 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple with its juice. I had only sliced pineapple available. I chopped it up leaving bigger chunks inside the cake. I would have liked the chunks to be smaller but all those who ate the cake seemed to like it.
  • The ICING. The Magnolia icing for this cake is the Cream Cheese Icing. I made a 1/2 recipe and added
    • 1 cup of yoghurt
    • FRESH, SWEET, pineapple chunks

I got it all mixed up – in the best sense of that expression.

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Looks like more fun than the Kitchen Aid mixer.

And it popped out looking beautiful.

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Beautiful, until I turned the cake upside-down to take it out of the pan. It MOSTLY came out well, but I had a couple of torn spots. LEARNED: 1) You have to be very careful with the Maryann Cake Pan to grease and flour it well. It is easy to miss a spot or two and have some stick. 2) Let the cake cool completely. As a cake or cookie cools, the form becomes better fixed and less likely to tear. The cooling also lets a cake contract and separate itself from the pan.

I didn’t get a picture of the cake I baked for two reasons. First, I didn’t want to fill the well with the filling (yoghurt-infused icing). So I waited until just before “Happy Birthday to You” to fill the well and COVER IT WITH CRUSHED PECANS !!!. Secondly, we set about to devour the cake rather quickly. It was the right thing to do.

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Imagine this smoothed out, then covered with crushed pecans.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ASHLEY!

I hope you had a sweet day!