Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

I come from a long line of oatmeal cookies aficionados. I usually make a few batches for my folks any time I spend more than a weekend at their house. This time, is no exception. I made this batch with pecans instead of raisins.

Sometimes raisins can be a little too much sweet. In contrast, these cookies are nutty and delicious.

Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
3 cups old fashioned oats (not instant)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Cream together the butter and the sugars. Add in the eggs one at a time. Add in the vanilla and beat to combine. Add flour mixture and mix well. Add in pecans and oats. Stir well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Dulce de Leche Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie

Michelle and I were feeling adventurous this holiday so we kicked up the traditional pecan pie a notch. I had seen an episode of Pati’s Mexican Table where she combined Mexican flavors with American classic foods and Dulce de Leche Chocolate Pecan Pie was one of her recipes. It looked good but a little sweeter than my tastes run, so we switched out the crust and made a couple other minor adjustments.

You lose a little of the top to the foil but leaving it off makes the pie darken too much. Here it is perfectly browned.

Decadently good with the caramel adding a lovely flavor with the toasted pecans. As my friend Charlotte learned, don’t go with too big of slices as it is so very rich it will be hard to finish in one sitting.

We served it with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream. Recipe HERE.

Dulce de Leche Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie

Dark Chocolate Pie Crust

1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons cold butter
ice water and vodka

For the Dulce de Leche Caramel Chocolate Pecan Filling

3 eggs
1 can Dulce de Leche Caramel Sauce (we used Eagle Brand)
½ cup dark brown sugar
⅓ cup light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
⅓ cup chopped bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

First make the crust. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Break up the shortening and butter into smaller pieces and drop into the processor bowl. Pulse maybe 10 times more until the mixture is crumbly and the butter and shortening are well distributed.

While the machine is running, drizzle in the 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water and 1 1/2 tablespoon vodka (don’t worry, the alcohol cooks off), and stop just when the dough comes together. Open the machine and feel the dough, if it comes together when pressed between your fingers, it’s ready. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and bring together with your hands into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll the dough out on a cocoa’d surface (instead of flour). Fit the dough into a 9″ pie pan that you have coated in shortening. Prettify the edges. Put the crust back in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

For the filling – In a bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until foamy. Add in the Dulce de Leche caramel sauce, brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter and salt and whisk until it is well blended. Stir in the chopped pecans and chocolate and mix well.

Remove the crust from the refrigerator. Pour the filling into pie crust. Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake for 50 minutes with the foil on. Then remove and continue to cook until the pie is set and the top is lightly browned, about 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.

Cinnamon Pecan Meringues

I was feeling a craving for something cinnamony and pecany and decided to try something I found in an old recipe pamphlet of holiday desserts I picked up at a flea market. It didn’t have either an oven temp or a time – just the instruction to bake until done. Luckily, I’ve done meringues before so I had a method to use.

Good thing, too that I had a lot of pecans – Michelle’s mom had collected over 5 five gallon buckets of pecans from the tree in their front yard that we shelled and toasted and packaged up to be stored in the freezer, ready to be used.

This recipe does take a while – you are whipping the egg whites for a while and the bake time is at least two hours. Your patience is rewarded, though. These meringues have excellent flavor and crunch.

Cinnamon Pecan Meringues

6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 lb pecans

Toast pecans and then pulse in a food processor until ground. Set aside.

Whip egg whites and salt until stiff. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time – it should take about 14 minutes to add it all in. Mix in cinnamon. Fold in ground pecans.

Place mixture in a piping bag (or a ziploc bag with one corner cut out) and pipe out dollops on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 175 for at least 2 hours. Finished meringues will release from the pan and be crunchy throughout. Turn off the oven and let gradually cool in the oven as the oven cools.

Store in an airtight container.

You can’t pop just one!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Another weekend, another peanut butter and chocolate craving. This time, I’m going to try thumbprint cookies.

Now, the nice lady from whom I got the recipe made these teeny, tiny divots and used only the barest amount of filling per cookie. Not me. The first thing I did when making them was double the filling recipe. Even though my cookies crack a little more from the deeper indention, it is worth it to have the extra filling.

I’m out of corn syrup so I did a one for one substitution with cane syrup. Had I wanted a slightly more neutral flavor, I could have used agave nectar instead.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies:
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup crunchy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon praline pecan liquor (or vanilla)

Chocolate Filling:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate baking bars
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ teaspoons cane syrup (or corn syrup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter with the sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the peanut butter, egg and liquor (or vanilla), mixing well after each addition. Gradually add in the flour mixture and mix until combined.

Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into 1 inch balls. Place at least 1 inch apart on two ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes. Use a pestle or the back of a spoon to make indentions in each of the cookies. Switch and rotate pans when returning to the oven. Bake for 6 minutes more. When you remove from the oven, you may need to remake the indentions. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt together over a water bath the chocolate, butter, and syrup. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Use a spoon to fill each indention with the chocolate. Let the chocolate filling cool and harden completely – you can put the cookies in the fridge to speed that process up.

Store in an airtight container.

 

Show Me the Saint Louis Desserts!

Brian, Jennie and I ended our cross country odyssey in St. Louis, Missouri. Of course, I couldn’t leave the city without seeing the arch:

And I definitely couldn’t leave until I tasted some of their local treats. We started by going to Ted Drewes for a frozen custard concoction known as concrete. The place is a small house with several windows to order from along the street side.

They list out their menu on the side wall but along the front are other hand written signs about other offerings, all of which tempt you to change your mind. So I did. Several times.

I ordered the turtle with caramel and hot fudge sauce and pecans. Very, very tasty. Jennie got hers with Reeses peanut butter cups mixed in. Also, delish.

I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture of the server turning it upside down to show me how thick it is but she did flip them.

The custards were quite refreshing on a warmish afternoon and they’ve got benches along the edge of the parking lot, under some trees so we sat with many others to enjoy our treat.

We next needed to find some Gooey Butter Cake. We wanted to go to Gooey Louie but they were on vacation so we tried another version near where we were staying in Fenton.

Russell’s Cafe and Bakery does a shortbread crust on theirs plus several different options like chocolate chip and cinnamon and orange as well as the original gooey butter cake. I really liked the soft, gooey and creamy top over the crunchy shortbread and the hint of citrus in their cinnamon version helped cut the sweetness. It may not be true to the original but it was very good.

What started as a baker’s mistake (switching the proportions of flour and sugar) is quite delicious indeed.

St. Louis has many fine qualities and its desserts rank among them. I hope to return soon to explore more.

 

Spirited Puddin Pops

I’ve posted before about the chocolate pudding mix that Michelle makes for me and about how you can make delicious puddin pops with it. After a long Labor Day weekend acknowledging the contributions and achievements of American workers, it is time to celebrate with an adultifyied version.

I used RumChata in place of some of the milk. I love their blend of rum, cream, cinnamon and vanilla in drinks and baking and, now I’ve learned just how well it goes in puddin pops.

So good I chomped instead of licked!

So yummy and oh, so refreshing.

I’m thinking the next batch will be made with amaretto. Or maybe crème de menthe.

Spirited Puddin Pops

1 cup chocolate pudding mix (or 1 – 4 ounce box cook and serve chocolate pudding)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup RumChata
1 cup Cool Whip whipped topping

Place the pudding mix and milk in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it begins to thicken, add in the RumChata and continue to cook until it comes to a boil

Scrape pudding into a metal mixing bowl and place over a large bowl of ice and water and stir to bring the temperature down. Once the bottom of the bowl containing the pudding is cool to the touch, mix in the Cool Whip. Stir until completely incorporated.

Pour into molds and place in the freezer. It will take at least five hours to freeze.

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Growing up, we called these Congo bars. Like chocolate chip cookies but with more chips and a gooey texture. I had some recently that added coconut, so I know they are still popular at potlucks. These aren’t blondies – the butter/shortening is melted before adding the sugar instead of creaming the two together. Here is a link to my blondie recipe.

Below is the version I’m using these days. The original recipe was in mom’s handwriting and called for oleo or shortening but I’m using about half and half butter and shortening. Using all shortening, you lose some flavor and the cookie bar crumbles. Using all butter, makes them too dense. Combined is the best of all worlds.

I’m also using bittersweet morsels instead of semi-sweet but put your preference in – heck, I’ve seen these with a mix of white and dark chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 1/4 cups flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup shortening
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup nuts, roughly chopped – I use pecans
1 package chocolate morsels – I use bittersweet

Lightly butter a 9×13 pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Melt butter and shortening in the top of a double boiler. Stir in brown sugar until well mixed. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Add dry ingredients, then nuts and chocolate.

Pour into greased pan. For a prettier presentation, I scatter a few whole pecans and some extra morsels on the top before baking at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes. It should be golden brown all over, with the edges a slightly darker brown.

When almost cool, cut into finger length bars or squares (my preference).

Mom’s recipe says it comes from the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper, dated February 22, 1942. Google helped me find the link to the advertisement in the comics section of that paper.