I realize that for those who visit here for purely the food are going to be left slightly disappointed. Sorries in advance.
This last weekend I took some photos for my boss’s daughter, her son-in-law and their ridiculously gooby (yes, she’s goobier than Huck!) and impossible-to-tire-out labradork, Mia.
*Sidebar: Karen, if you’re reading this looks away NOW! Kristin said no peeking!*
The aim was to capture some fun family photos to put on the mantle and just get them all together because well, bless Mia’s heart – pup is edging on 10. With the amount of energy this pup is trotting around with she would put pups half her age to shame. Oh, wait. Huck is less than half her age and she still runs laps around his broken allergy-riddled ass.
Sorry pupper. Mama loves you, but you’re a mess.
(For those who don’t know about Huck, he’s allergic to everything including himself, 4 trees, 5 grasses, dust and wait for it – feathers. Talk about the ultimate irony for a bird dog to be allergic to feathers.)
Below are some of the photos I took of the wonderful little family, ball-crazy pup and all. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.
We trotted around the local dog park just walking and talking and me running circles around them like Mia did with her tennis ball hoping someone might spare a minute just to throw the ball. One. More. Time.
But wrangling a ball-centric pup is a hard thing to do. Pockets packed with treats helped.
Not having their pictures taken since their wedding, it was time to get some fun relaxed cutsey-coupley shots of the love birds.
And Mia took the opportunity to photo-bomb when she could. Couldn’t have been more perfect.
Treats? Oh sure, I’ll focus for three seconds. Hurry. Hurry, I need a treat NOW!
And if you think you could keep a labrador from water? You’ve got another thing coming. It’d be easier to separate atoms.
Is anyone else here a fan of Hyperbole and a Half? Simple dog ring a bell?
I bought a set of these myself a couple of years ago and Oh. Em. Gee.
My Wilton pans are the baking work-horses of my kitchen. Never once have I had something stick to these pans. And that’s saying something because I bake hardcore. They’re light weight, but not flimsy. And with three in a set you can go from small to large projects in a snap.
The pans included in this 3-pack set are,
1 – 13″ x 9″ pan
1 – 15″ x 10″ pan
1 – 17″ x 11″ pan.
I love these like a big boned rotund youth loves cake.
Like Homer loves Marge.
Like Huck likes a good tennis ball.
And I know that one of you will love them just as much as I do!
What did you ask Santa for when you were a kid?
Were you like me, who kept asking for that blasted pony and never got it? Or did you want a new Furby and all you got was a pink nightmare from Great Aunt Clara?
Leave me a comment and a way to get a hold of you if you win.
For Additional Entries:
~ Tweet about this post. Leave me a comment telling me you did so.
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This giveaway will run until Friday, December 9th. A winner will be chosen by random.org and announced here and on Bookface and the Twitters. The winner will have 48 hours to contact me to another winner will be chosen. All prizes were purchased by yours truely, although I do work for Wilton as a cake decorating instructor. I just love the product and want to share. Over and out.
Tonight was too much fun. It was a girl’s night and I’m blaming the bestie on this giveaway being announced far later than intended. She took me on a girls night, out for drinks, to a great comedy show and we did a little shopping. What a terrible friend she is. And guess who’s got their engagement photo outfit ready? This girl!
Don’t you just hate it when you find ‘the recipe’ you just have to try and then *BAM* it goes missing? That happened to me with this recipe. Originally I stumbled upon it in one of my Martha Everyday Food magazines, but after flipping through each one I had I couldn’t find it. Pages flipped furiously, my left eye began twitching and exasperation increased. With the angries growing and Hulk bubbling under my skin, I gave up and decided to adapt my Bourbon Bread Pudding recipe for this adventure in an attempt to replicate the inspired recipe.
Growing up bread pudding was that food my mom inexplicably adored. Weirdo.
It wasn’t until the last year or two that it’s come full circle and I realize that I am becoming my mother.
This stuff is the ISH and I now no longer make fun of my mother for her bread pudding fascination. For other things, yes. But this, no.
Bread pudding is warm, cozy and nostalgic.
With a few extra pears on hand and a good loaf of bread I set to my duties.
After preheating the oven to 350F, the bread was sliced into 1/2 inch slices. I’ve always known cubed bread, but with pears it seemed appropriate to slice it all and not to mention – gorgeous.
The pears were each sliced in halved, the cores removed and then thinly sliced into 1/4 inch slices.
Into a 13×9 inch baking dish sprayed with Pam, each slice of bread was laid out with two slices of pear into between. Lather, rinse, repeat until the whole dish is crammed full. There is no need for daintiness here, the more cramped the better.
Once each bit is intertwined and nestled cozily together, the egg and milk mixture is whisked and poured over the whole kit and kaboodle.
Into a large bowl whisk together 4 cups milk, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 3 eggs, and spices. *Sidebar* For all that is holy, use something other than fat free milk. By default bread pudding is not a healthy dish, but cutting out all that delicious fat is a sacriledge. Don’t anger the bread pudding gods. They don’t like when you mess with them. Just bow and gracefully accept their will. It’s tasty will.
Now for the fun part – pour the whole lot over your bread and let it soak in and get all soppy.
Lastly, sprinkle over your chocolate chips and you’re ready to bake. 45 minutes and done.
Not only does this look impressive when all baked, but it tastes even better! So if you need a dish for Christmas morning breakfast, or a warm dessert, this is it.
1 loaf, French Bread
1 quart milk, at least 1%
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Chocolate Chips
2 Barlett Pears
Preheat oven to 350. Slice bread into ½ inch slices. Set aside. Halve and core two Bartlett pears. Slice thinly, into ¼” inch slices. Set aside.
Spray 13x9 inch baking dish with Pam. In pan, alternate one slice of bread with two slices of pear. Repeat this process until all of the bread and pears are used. Overlap bread slices to ensure there are no gaps in pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together quart of milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, all spice, and sugar. Pour entire mixture over the top of layered bread and pears.
Top with cup of chocolate chips. Bake for 45 minutes, or until center of pudding is set.
Slice and serve warm.
Inspired by Martha Stewart’s Pear and Chocolate Casserole
Thanksgiving, aka “Oh. Em. Gee. My Pants Don’t Fit!”, has officially come and gone and that means Christmas music is playing and I can justifiably rejoice in it.
Everything now tastes of peppermint, egg nog and awesome!
(Everything might have a slight taste of pepper spray if you’re one of those bat crazy people shoving ol’ granny at the Wal-Marts on Black Friday. She don’t put up with that stuff, esp. when Johnny asked Santy for an X-Box.)
Here I decided to kick off the Christmas countdown with a new fanciful recipe I pulled together from a few different sources, one being Alton Brown, aka Cooking God.
Him and I have a thing, ya know.
Oh, you didn’t?
Well, we do.
*Insert proof here*.
So, I turned to my imaginary other cooking half and borrowed his homemade marshmallow recipe, putting a decidedly Christmas spin on it. Thanks Pumpkin-pants.
I give you Egg Nog Marshmallows.
Now, I’ve made variations of marshmallow before (S’mores Cupcakes, anyone?). Making mallows typically involves beating egg whites into fluffy peaks and then pouring molten corn syrup over them, but this substitutes gelatin for the eggs, which is genius. I don’t particularly mind using the egg white version, because the hot as Hades syrup will kill any risidual creatures that hide out in egg whites. But for those of you who are germaphobes, or just don’t want to test the power that be, gelatin is a fantastic alternative that yields incredible results.
For your grocery list, include:
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tsp Rum Extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Ivory food coloring, optional*
To begin at the beginning, I softened three packets of gelatin in 1/2 cup of ice cold water. Let me tell you there is nothing more entertaining than watching gelatin soften. It’s like goo trying to escape the lab. No? Just me then? Okay.
Next I weighed out the appropriate amount of sugar. This is where a scale comes in handy. This Taylor model was $40 at Target, but it’s a nutrition scale, calculating calories, fat, etc. Pretty handy, and I adore the metal.
The 12 ounces of sugar was uncermoniously poured into a medium saucepan and whisked together with the other 1/2 cup of ice water, 1 cup of corn syrup and a dash of salt. Seeing as I don’t have proper kosher salt, I opted for halving the recommended salt and using just table salt.
The whole pot was heated over medium-high heat until it reached 240F on my candy thermometer. With my notoriously crap range, it took longer that it should have but it did eventually get there.
Into the stand mixer went the bloomed gelatin, with the whisk attachment, and set to low I proceeded to pour the molten corn syrup/sugar mixture into the bowl. This is also another good reason to use gelatin versus the traditional eggs. If you pour too quick, your whipped egg whites will go south on you. Here, no risk of that. Pour evenly with the mixer on low until it’s all in there and them, BAM turn it on high and let her rip for about 15 minutes.
I want to specify that it is imperative that you use a whisk attachment here. The first time I tried and didn’t use the whisk there wasn’t enough air incorporated into the mix to get a good fluffy mallow. It was a cooled down wimpy mallow fluff. Thinking back it would have made a perfect Crack Dip! Argh, why didn’t I think of that?!
Whilst the mallows are doing their fluffing, go about your business and whisk together equal parts corn starch and powdered sugar.
After spraying down a 13×9 pan with some Pam, dust about half of the mixture into the pan.
Make sure to get all the sides as well!
Set the bowl with the remaining mix to the side for later.
Now – just before you take your mallows out of the mixer, the last minute or two go ahead and whip in your flavorings, nutmeg and optional dye.
When you’re mallows are cool and the bowl is no longer hot enough to give you third degree burns, take a Pam’d spatula and pour the mallow mix into the dusted pan. Spread evenly and dust with enough sugar/corn starch mix to just get rid of the tackiness of the mallows. Allow it sit for a few hours to finish setting up, or over night as in my case.
Once you’re ready to devour them, turn them out onto a starched/sugared cutting board and slice into cube sizes of your liking! Just remember to repeatedly dust your knives or pizza cutters so they don’t get stuck or put your marshmallows to shreds.
Toss these babies into a hot cup of cocoa, or dip in chocolate and serve as a Christmas treat. The possibilities are endless!
I need an egg nog latte with these babies floating on top, STAT. Little mallow-bergs of tastiness!
Easy Marshmallows to make at home for the holidays
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ½ tsp Rum Extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Ivory food coloring, optional*
In stand mixer bowl outfitted with whisk attachment, combine ½ cup ice water with 3 packages of unflavored gelatin. Allow to bloom for 5 minutes.
In large saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, rum extract, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon and remaining ½ cup water. Whisk together. Turn on heat to medium high and using a candy thermometer whisk sugar/corn until it boils and reaches 240 Degrees F.
Turn stand mixer on low and begin to gently whisk gelatin. In a small, steady stream begin slowly pouring boiling corn syrup/sugar mixture into stand mixer. Once all the syrup is in the mixer, turn it on medium high and allow to beat for 15 minutes, or until the bowl is completely cool.
Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. In small bowl, combine corn starch and powdered sugar. Sprinkle ½ of corn starch/sugar mixture into the sprayed baking dish and coat the baking dish. Put remnants of sugar/starch back into the original bowl.
Once the marshmallow fluff has puffed up and cooled, turn off mixer and using a non-stick spray coated spatula scrape the marshmallow fluff into the baking dish. Using a non-stick spray coated spatula spread the marshmallow fluff to cover the whole baking pan. Sprinkle with some of the powdered sugar/corn starch mixture and pat to cover the top of the marshmallows until the top is no longer sticky. Let rest for 3 hours or even overnight uncovered.
Remove sheet of cooled and set marshmallows from baking dish. Place on a cutting board or clean surface. Dip a sharp knife into corn starch/sugar mixture and cut the marshmallows int o strips and then cube. If desired, use cookie cutters to cut into seasonal shapes. Just dip the cutters into the corn starch/sugar mixture. The mallows will still be sticky.
When cut, roll into bowl of corn starch/sugar mixture and tap off excess. Set aside to set.
Sprinkle with additional nutmeg for garnish. Serve, eat, roast, or put in hot cocoa.
*NOTE* This involves molten sugar - PLEASE be careful and assist children.
This morning I woke up and was smacked with Christmas spirit. I chose not to partake in the bruise inducing chaotic Black Friday mania, staying home instead to bake and canoodle with the mutt. Of course, I shouldn’t forget that Michael Buble made a brief appearance singing Christmas music into my ear and and straight to my soul. Seriously, is there anything that man can’t do? Modern Bing Crosby he is, with a rendition of White Christmas that will turn any girl into a puddle of her former self.
But that’s all beside the point. It’s the day after Thanksgiving and we can officially start to get into the Christmas spirit. So, I did so with a Red Velvet and Peppermint Roll.
Every family seems to have a traditional cake roll of somekind. Mine included. My step-madre’s Fogg Logg is legend.
I figured I could put a more wintery twist on this classic treat.
With a box of Red Velvet mix generously given to me by Duncan Hines as part of the FoodBuzz Tastemakers program, and some chilled wintery air I went to work.
For your grocery list include:
~ 1 box Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix*
~ 3 eggs
~ 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
~ 1 1/4 cup Water
~ 1 brick Cream Cheese, room temp
~ 6 Tbsp. Butter, room temp
~ 1 cup Powdered Sugar
~ 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
~ 3/4 tsp Peppermint Extract
~ Extra Powered sugar for dusting.
~ 2 lint free towels,
(or old clean pillow cases work great!)
For starters, I laid out the tea towels and gave them a hefty dusting of powdered sugar that would act as a releasing agent when the rolls are well, rolled.
After preheating my predictably unpredictable oven to 325F, two jelly roll pans were sprayed with Pam, and lined with parchment. After they were stuck to their respective pans, they were sprayed again and then floured. It’s all essential for getting a crack free roll.
After the batter was mixed according to directions, it was divvied up between the two pans and spread evenly.
Into the oven they both went, being rotated half way through to ensure they were cooked evenly. Here’s a little truthiness for ya’ – the back of your oven if notoriously hotter than the front, so always rotate your baking half way through to ensure it’s cooked well all the way around.
Once they are out of the oven, lay the sugared towels sugar side down over the pan.
Here is where it gets a tad tricky and an extra pair of hands help. Flip the pan over, cake and all allowing it to fall onto the towels with the parchment side up.
After removing the parchment, roll the towel tightly and allow the cool while all snug as a bug in the towel. In the mean time resource yourself a mixer, combing all the remaining ingredients, sugar, cream cheese, extracts and butter, until they are smooth and combined.
Gently unroll the cake from it’s caccoon and slather on the deliciously creamy filling and roll ‘er back up. It’s best to let it chill for at least an hour before serving. But then slice away and try not to hoover too much yourself.
Nothing like a slightly chocolately and teensy pepperminty dessert fit for the holidays!
Now – for the GIVEAWAY!
With Christmas spirit in full swing, and TONS of baking to be done, it seemed appropriate to outfit two lucky people with a few necessary accoutrements to make a few wicked batches of holiday cookies.
And two mini loaf pans a piece never hurt anybody.
Each includes a dainty little snowflake cutter, statuesque pine tree, perfectly candy colored candy cane, and of course a ginger-dude.
To Enter (Mandatory):
Tell me, what is your favorite holiday tradition?
Are you Christmas Eve gift openers, or Charlie Brown Christmas watchers?
Tweet about this giveaway with: “@Countrycleaver is spreading the X-mas cheer with a cookie lovers giveaway! http://bit.ly/rGbqVV“
Leave me a comment for each entry and you’ll be all sorts of set for this bad boy!
The winners will be chosen by Random.org and notified on Friday, December 2nd.
Good luck and Happy Holidays!
*Obligatory Author’s Notes* The giveaway prizes are furnished by yours truly, because who are we kidding? I love shopping and anything bakeware. The Duncan Hines cake was provided by Duncan Hines and FoodBuzz as part of their Tastemakers Program. But the recipe – is mine all mine. Over and out.
As I wrap up my “What on earth do I take to Thanksgiving dinner?” menu, and try not to get too heavily distracted with Star Wars (Episode 5, if you must know.), I wanted to share with you this last appetizer sure to wet any appetite.
This will be a hit with the grazers and football watchers alike.
Now, as soon as most people hear the word “squash” in a recipe, eye brows rise, lips sneer, and you hear the “oh, well I’m sure it’s great, but I’m so full…”.
This is one of those recipes that will turn your whole outlook around and make you want to testify to the magnificence of this cold weather squash.
For your grocery list include:
~ 3 cups steamed Acorn Squash
~ 4 oz. Cream Cheese
~ 4 oz. Crumbled Feta
~ 1/2 onion, diced and caramelized
~ 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
~ 1/4 tsp Ground Pepper
~ 2/3 tsp Dried Thyme
~ 24 Wonton Wrappers
~ 1 egg, whisked into a small dish.
~ Pam, lots of Pam.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
In a micro-proof pie pan, lay your halved acorn squash flat side down. Cover with plastic wrap and nuke for 6 minutes or until the meat is fork tender.
While oven is preheating and the squash is microwaving, dice a medium onion and toss into a hot non-skillet slathered in butter just like Paula Deen would like, and carmelize those bits to high heaven. Momentarily set aside.
Once you can handle your microwaved squash without giving yourself third degree hot-squash burns, scrape the meat out with a spoon and into a medium bowl.
Fold in the rest of the ingredients – onions, spices and feta. Fold until all uniformly mixed.
Once it’s all mixed up, take out one wonton wrapper at a time and cover up the rest to avoid drying out. This is where you must work quickly and have all your pieces handy.
On a heavy duty non-stick baking sheet, spray liberally with Pam. And now you can get to work wrapping up your wontons.
In the middle of each wrapper dollop about 1 tablespoon of colorful squash. With a pastry brush, or if you’re classy like me – your finger, brush the outside edges of the wrapper with whisked egg. Quickly fold all of the corners together.
Place on the Pam’ed baking sheet, repeating the process until your wrappers are used up. Once each wonton has been placed on the sheet, spray it again with Pam to ensure that they don’t dry out while you finish the rest.
Next, toss into your hot oven for 8-10 minutes and BAM, oven fried wontons fit for fall!
So, if you’re trying to rustle up a last minute appe-teaser for the impending chaotic Turkey Day, add this into the mix. Turn your familial squash haters into squash mongers once and for all!
Yeah I know, I’m a tad late to the Prep for Thanksgiving day party. But for all of you who might not know exactly what’s on your Turkey Day menu, let me throw a little yumminess your way. I don’t know about you, but as much as I whole heartedly adore the traditional Thanksgiving fare with sweet potatoes from a can covered in ‘mallows that great-aunt Whoever has permanent dibs on, to cranberry gel from a tin perfectly sliced and still yielding the indented lines – some years I crave something a little different.
This year, I will be bringing an artichoke leek casserole to the table. Creamy, veggie filled and topped with mashed potatoes this should definitely be folding into your repertoire. Especially if you’re just needing a slight change of pace that still brings for the cozy and warmth of the Turkey day table.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large non-stick skillet I heated up my tablespoon of olive oil until just shimmering and tossed in my thinly sliced celery stalks and leeks.
After about 7-8 minutes they became soft and it was time to add in the artichokes.
Fresh from my bonus-mom’s garden. Drool.
The artichokes were given a quick rough chop before going into the pan. Just for good measure.
And once they were incorporated into the rest of the veggies, the wine and chicken broth was added. Stir around and allow to cook down. When almost all of the moisture was evaporated it was time for the cream cheese. Blessed blessed cream cheese, I could eat you with a spoon.
Fold the cream cheese into the mixture until it just melts and covers everything in it’s creamy beauty.
Here is where I tested my first bite, and dang. Just dang.
Finally it was time to remove the mixture from the heat, top with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Onto the top of these bad boys, I decided that sliced potatoes just weren’t going to cut it. Instead, a hefty dose of garlic mashers was called into duty. And what a fabulous choice it was. If you haven’t managed to polish off the remaining mashers from your Turkey Day dinner, utilize the leftovers into this dish, you won’t be sorry.
After pouring the lot into a 9 inch pie pan I decided to give it a decorative flourish, breaking out a decorating bag and large frosting tip to do the handy work.
Once piped on, the dish went into my pre-heated oven for 35 minutes to heat through and brown up.
It didn’t take long for me to dig in and polish off an entire serving. Ben was lucky to get one measly bite. I wasn’t giving this up.
So, if you’re looking for something to bring to the Turkey Day table, add this one to the mix. A big dose of fall vegg and soft fluffy potatoes – you will be the star of the show. Promise.
*As part of the FoodBuzz Tastemakers program in conjunction with Simply Potatoes I was provided with a coupon for one of their products. But all opinions and recipes are my own. The convenience and taste of these not-frozen potatoes was fantastic and perfectly fluffy. Winner on those busy nights you don’t want to wait for fresh potatoes to boil*
I drank the Kool Kid Kool-Aid and for my birthday last month decided it was hightime to transition into the big kids club and purchase myself an iPhone. Seeing as every techie product I’d ever owned were Macs and iPods, I figured the best way to round out the technologies was with a snazzy new myPhone. Yes, it’s a myPhone. Any Simpson’s watchers out there? No? Okay, fine.
Well, with the myPhone came some fun free apps – of course. Recently I’ve been honing (snicker) my word skills with Words Free and have had my butt handed back to me on a silver platter, regularly.
The other app that has taken over my life? Instagram. Oh man… I’m feeling all sorts of hipster awesome with it.
Now that I’m not relegated to taking food photos with just my beasty camera wherever I go, I am snapping away and flashing cool treatments all over the place. No subject is off limits.
So be warned, if you dislike photos of ridiculously gooby seal-eyed labradorks, ie: Huck. Turn away.
If you hate food – you are totally in the wrong place.
But if you haven’t caught a glimpse of Ben yet, keep on scrolling…
Sorry, don’t mind me.
My boys, rears… You can almost see Huck trot like a pony.
Ma, yu iz wants the teneiz ball? Takes it, I darez yu.
What the heck is this tree? I don’t know, but it’s super awesome.
Steadfast navigator… until 30 seconds later and he falls asleep.
This is where I work, right on Puget Sound. Not a bad place to stroll during the day.
On a stormy day at the beach.
Om nom nom. A hefty bite out of my Nutella Pecan Pie. It was finished two big obnoxious and unlady like bites later…No one was around.
Farmer’s lunch with mi madre for my belated birthday lunch. Bread, soup, and fantastic varieties of cheeses? I’d die happily.
And of course, Ben. Oh yeah, me too – but y’all don’t care so much about me.
There you have it. A peek into my oh-so-romantic and worldly life…Not. But maybe it helped you peek into the madness behind the screen. Hope I haven’t scared you all too badly.
This post is going to be prefaced with a disclaimer, something it’s never been necessary to do until now.
I’m breaking the cardinal rule of Christmas, and making something with peppermint before Thanksgiving has even happened. Shame on me.
I know, right? Feel free to roll your eyes at me, because as soon as I made these I rolled my eyes at myself.
For the last week or so I have been searching unabated for the unicorn of the Hershey Kiss family – the Pumpkin Spice Kiss. With an epic recipe waiting to be made I adventured into six stores and found zero Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s.
*Drops head in shame*
I finally gave in an bought a bag of the Candy Cane Kisses as some sort of sad consolation candy. But it wasn’t quite the same. And now I proclaim to you, my search will continue until I can resource myself a bag of these mythical candies.
So, for now – bear with me while I share a recipe that was a pleasant surprise and started getting me into a pre-mature Christmas Spirit. As I scarf one down now, I can personally attest to their deliciousness.
Suddenly, I’m okay with the Christmas spirit rising early.
For my grocery list I included:
~ 1 3/4 cup Flour
~ 1 stick Butter, softened
~ 1/3 cup STRONG coffee
1/4 cup grounds to 1/2 cup boiling water
~ 1 egg
~1 tsp Vanilla
~ 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
~ 3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
~ Sugar, for rolling cookies
~ 20-24 Candy Cane Hershey Kisses
I began with making a strong mini-pot of coffee. For years, I’ve maintained that the french press is the epitome of coffee makers. It’s simple, quick and always brews a flavorful cup of coffee.
As the hot water steeped the coffee, I got a move on whisking together my dry ingredients, setting them aside for later.
Into my handy dandy Kitchen Aid kitchen-baby went the butter, vanilla, egg mixing together until airy and fluffy. The coffee was slowly beat in, last being the dry ingredients.
Once everything was combined, the bowl was placed into the fridge to cool off for about 20 minutes. In that time I heated up the oven to 350 degrees and dollops of dough were rolled into about 1-inch balls. After each was created and then rolled into sugar, they were placed back into the fridge for another 20 minutes to make sure they’d hold their shape.
Once baked for about 9-10 minutes a pan, a gorgeous striped Kiss was plunked right into the middle of each cookie.
But don’t forget – Do NOT move, touch, jostle or shake the cookies as they cool or else your Kisses will turn to puddles of melted goo. I would remove them from their pan first then go plunk the Kisses into the middle. Save yourself that terrifying transfer of cooling kissed cookies.
And there you have it – Peppermint Mocha Thumprints. Ready for Christmas, but really delicious anytime.
Don’t knock the combo ’til you try it. Firm believer, right here.
They are what dreams are made of – the bloggers and the pies. But today I wanted to share with you my utterly sinful and ridiculously rich Nutella Pecan Pie. My love for Nutella is the worst kept secret in the world. Honestly, it’s a miracle that the jar in my house was still intact. I’m not above eating this stuff out of the jar with a spoon. And no, I don’t feel bad about it.
Pecan Pie is the equivalent of what Red Velvet is to cake. It’s really wonderful, decadent and everyone loves it, but for reasons that you can’t quite explain. They’re the elusive monsters of the cake/pie worlds, you love them, but just can’t put a finger on what makes people go ga-ga… So for me, this pie was an adventure into the unknown and uncharted world of pecan pies and what makes simply irresistible. (Yes, I wrote that and did a little jig at the same time. Child of the 80′s here!)
But I didn’t want to settle with JUST a pecan pie, no. I added a half a jar of Nutella to it.
For this pie week, our common thread was the use of Kirsten’s Pie Crust. Flour, butter, salt, water – Go.
Pie crusts and I notoriously don’t get along. But she assured us all this pie crust is one for the ages. Aunt Paula Deen would be proud. And you know what, this was quite amazing. My biggest worry about it was whether or not my dinky but oh so loved 3-cup food processor could handle the job.
So I divvied the pie crust recipe into two and made one crust at a time. And it was a dream.
Flour and salt – pulse to mix.
Add butter – pulse until pea sized beads form.
Add water and hang on to your hats!
Viola – Le Pie Crust! Beautiful. Maybe there was hope for me and pie crusts after all.
Next up was to pre-bake the crust in my pie pan after it had been chilled. With the innards of a pecan pie being so gooey, the crust had a jump start on developing a nice golden brown color and flakey crust.
With a bit of pie crust left over, I punched out some little maple leaves to decorate the edges. The cookie cutters were on sale, and now I finally had a chance to put them to work! After it was all pretty and par-baked it was time to get down to business.
With my remaining half jar of Nutella, I smeared it into the bottom of the pie crust. It was about a half cup of gloriousness into the bottom. Not too much to overpower the pecan, but enough to take it up a notch. Bam.
For the rest of the pecan mixture, I combined three tablespoon of butter into a metal bowl set into a skillet full of water. The purpose of this is to help temper the ingredients, especially the eggs without scalding them into a sad and inedible oblivion. Thank ATK for the knowledge bomb.
Once the butter, sugar and salt are combined place the bowl back into the water bath.
Whisk in remaining ingredients (except pecans) and stir over heated water until the temperature of the mixture reaches 130 degrees. You don’t want your water bath to boil, just sit below a simmer.
(Okay, the nails – sorry. It’s college football time and I’m represenin’ my WSU Cougars with a Crimson nail and Grey (read: silver) Crackle top coat. I’m a lefty, so painting with my right had is notoriously hideous.)
Once the mixture reached the required 130, it was taken off the heat, pecans were whisked in and the whole kit and caboodle was poured atop the Nutella into the pre-baked crust.
At this point the loving mutt was just staring at me waiting for something to drop, and dinner.
With the oven temp reduced to 275 degrees, the pie was baked for 55 minutes. And when it came out of there,
angels sang. The crust was golden brown and flakey, and the insides were a mixture of chocolate and awesomeness. True story.
So there you have it. A Nutella Pecan Pie that it will be difficult not to hoard. Now, go forth and share the love.
Tune in tomorrow with Alison from Decadent Philistines for her savory Mushroom and Wine Pie. I need me some of that!