Chocolate and Pecan Shortbread Bars

February 28th, 2014

Chocolate Shortbread Bars 3

 

These bars are one of my favorite sweet treats.  I have blogged about them before, but since I have been posting for so many years, I figured that the first blog post is buried deep in the blogging archives.  The original recipe was called Scandinavian Tea Cakes.  I am sure there is a history there, but to me they are basically chocolate and pecan shortbread bars.  David would be happy if I made these every week.  He has a sweet tooth that requires one piece of chocolate every night.  And my, oh my, do these deliver.  Not just chocolate, but crispy, buttery shortbread too.

Chocolate Shortbread Bars 2 V

 

I started a New Year’s tradition this year.  At the stroke of midnight, after the hugs and kisses, we sipped our glasses of champagne while eating these chocolate delights.  Everyone agreed that it was the best way to start the New Year.

Chocolate Shortbread Bars 1

 

The recipe is very simple.  The shortbread crust has just a few ingredients.  Please use the size baking sheet specified.  When you spread the butter and brown sugar mixture on the pan, it is not necessary to get it all the way to the edges.  It spreads as it bakes.  When it is golden brown, take it out of the oven and sprinkle it with good chocolate chips.  The mini chips work well.  Place it back in the oven for 30 seconds to 1 minute just to warm the chocolate.  Then spread it around with a spatula.  Sprinkle it with chopped pecans and place it in the refrigerator to set before slicing the bars.

CHOCOLATE AND PECAN SHORTBREAD BARS

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup unbleached flour
6 (1.05 oz.) milk chocolate bars, grated ( I used 7 oz. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips)
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, and egg yolk until very smooth. Gradually add flour until well blended. Spread dough on lightly greased 15 1/2″x10 1/2″x 1″ sheet pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until medium brown. Sprinkle chocolate shavings or chips evenly over cake. Put in oven to melt and when warmed remove from oven and spread over top. Sprinkle with nuts. Cut into squares when cool.

Printable recipe

Chewy Pecan and Chocolate Diamonds

November 29th, 2015

Pecan triangles 1

We had a festive Thanksgiving celebration with the kids this year.  My DIL Kristen is a creative cook and likes to shake things up a bit.  Instead of a traditional pecan pie, she made these Chewy Pecan and Chocolate Diamonds.  The original recipe came from Epicurious.   The shortbread crust is topped with a caramel pecan topping.  To make it even more delicious, Kristen added chocolate chips to the final baking.

Pecan triangles 2

We loved these bars.  By cutting them into diamond shapes, there are edge scraps left for the cook and other family recipients.  Your guests or gift receivers can have the pretty ones, but the scraps are a treat just for you.  I will be making these as Christmas treats.

Pumpkin Profiterol 2

 

Instead of Pumpkin Pie, we had Pumpkin Custard Profiteroles with Maple Caramel.  Rachel helped her Mom make these amazing cream puffs.Mother and Daughter cooking

Rachel Cooking

It is great to have the kids participate in the meal preparation.  Four year old Cameron also got into the act by helping with the pecan diamonds.

Thanksgiving 2015 with Cam

As the casseroles came out of the oven, Michael carved the turkey and we sat down to our delicious meal. I am thankful for my family and for all of you who follow my blog.

To get you into the Christmas spirit watch this video of Rachel.  She is a new member of a competitive jump roping team and shows lots of talent.  https://youtu.be/ly-yG94eqBU   Here is another one https://youtu.be/QQJBbWjG-F4  Our dog, Daisy seems to be enjoying the show.  Rachel’s team will be performing at Disney World and possibly at next year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

CHEWY PECAN AND CHOCOLATE DIAMONDS

INGREDIENTS

  1. Crust
    • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  2. topping
    • 1 1/4 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    • 4 cups coarsely chopped pecans (about 14 1/2 ounces)
    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

PREPARATION

  1. for crust:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, leaving 1-inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil. Blend flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch and salt in processor. Add butter and process until mixture begins to clump together. Press dough evenly onto bottom of foil-lined pan. Bake crust until set and light golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Let stand while preparing topping. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
  2. for topping:
    1. Stir brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture boils; boil 1 minute. Add pecans and cream; boil until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Pour hot topping over warm crust.
    2. Bake nut-topped crust until caramel is darker and bubbles thickly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to rack. Cool completely in pan (topping will harden).
    3. Lift foil out of pan onto cutting board. Using heavy sharp knife, cut crust with nut topping into 1 1/2×1-inch diamonds. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container at room temperature.)

For variation, add 1 cup of chocolate chips sprinkled over the top near the end of baking time.

Printable Recipe

Magic Bars

February 11th, 2012

This was a hit with the Hubs.  “What have you made ?”  he said, tasting.  “Holy sh#*t  Moly, these are good.”   What about the diet?”  ” Not to worry”, I said.  “These are for friends, not us”.  Weeping sounds.  “OK, maybe you can have just one more”, I replied.

I have to admit that these Magic Bars are something special.  The recipe has been around for a long time, but I had never heard about them before.  Last Christmas David bought me a cookbook at the suggestion of one of my OBFFC (Oldest Best Friend From Childhood).  Thanks Lyla!  She suggested the Neiman Marcus Cookbook and it has some terrific recipes in it.

The Magic Bars are nothing more than a layer of buttered graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, shredded coconut and nuts.  A can of sweetened condensed milk is drizzled over the top and they are baked until the chocolate is oozy and the crust is browned.

We are going out to dinner with a group of friends Sunday night to celebrate and they will each get a box of goodies.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

MAGIC BARS (Adapted from The Neiman Marcus Cookbook)

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups coconut
1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts or peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 F (325 F if using glass pan)

Melt butter and mix with graham cracker crumbs.  Pat mixture into a greased 13×9-inch baking dish.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over crust, then coconut, then nuts.  Pour the condensed milk evenly over pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cool before cutting.

Store in fridge, or cut into pieces and freeze.

Printable recipe

Tandoori-Style Chicken for a Picnic

June 21st, 2016

Tandoori-Style Chicken 1 better

If you are looking for a flavorful picnic chicken, this is the one for you.  Because of the long marination in spices, garlic and ginger, it is delicious even at room temperature. I would happily put this chicken in a container and carry it to a picnic spot overlooking a mountain view or a babbling stream.  In my perfect picnic spot I would serve it with the following.

Couscous-with-arugla-2

Israeli Couscous and Arugula Salad.  It is bright.  It is piquant and it is light.  You can find the recipe here.

Zoodle Mixed Salad 1

One of my new favorite salads is this Zoodle vegie salad.  It is perfect for a picnic.   Here is the recipe.

Savory-Cheese-and-Chive-Bread-3V

All picnics require bread.  This wonderful cheese and chive bread from Dorie Greenspan is perfect.  It is one of my favorites.

Chocolate-Shortbread-Bars-2-V

 

My Chocolate Pecan Shortbread Bars are fast and easy.  You can make them even better with good quality chocolate.  I even make and freeze these to have on hand for impromptu get togethers.  Recipe here.

Picnic-2048x1229

Add some fruit, cheese and wine for a perfect picnic.

Tandoori-Style Chicken close

The fiery jalapeno and ginger spiked marinade assures that this chicken will have lots of flavor when it is served cold or at room temperature.  Although the recipe calls for roasting in the oven, it would also be great on the grill.  Try it for your next picnic or cookout.

TANDOORI-STYLE CHICKEN

  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, and seeded if desired
  • 1 inch-long piece gingerroot, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 pounds skinless chicken drumsticks and thighs, rinsed and patted dry
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • Lime wedges, for garnish
  1. For marinade, combine all ingredients except for chicken, oil and lime wedges in a food processor and purée until smooth.
  2. With a sharp knife, make several incisions on each chicken piece to help marinade penetrate meat. Transfer chicken to a large glass or ceramic baking dish and pour in marinade, turning chicken pieces to coat. Cover dish with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove chicken pieces from marinade. Transfer chicken to a roasting pan and drizzle with vegetable oil. Roast, basting occasionally, until juices run clear and meat is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely, then wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with lime wedges.

Printable Recipe

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

December 8th, 2014

Christmas Cookies 14 2

I made a new cookie for the holidays this year.  The minute I received my copy of  A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson, I knew that the Sarah Bernhardt cookies would be on my Christmas table.  Sarah Bernhardt cookies or cakes, as they are sometimes called, originated in Copenhagan Denmark in 1911 where a local chef made them for the French actress when she traveled there to promote the publication of her memoirs.  She was purported to have loved them.  Mimi Thorisson shared that she learned to make them from her Icelandic Mother-in-law.  They have now become a Christmas tradition in her household.  I can see why.

Christmas Cookies 14 3

They start with a meringue made from egg whites, confectioners’ sugar and almond flour.  I had to experiment with how large to make these and whether to use two spoons to form them or pipe them through a pastry bag.  I would recommend the bag.  It was much easier to handle the sticky dough that way.  After the meringues have cooled and put in the freezer for a short chill, they are frosted with a coffee and chocolate infused mixture.

Christmas Cookies 14 4

After the frosted meringues go back into the freezer to chill, they are then dipped in melted dark chocolate.  Even though there are a lot of steps to making them, Sarah Bernhardt cookies are well worth the time.  They are a mouthful of crisp meringue, soft frosting and rich dark chocolate.  I think it will take me some time to perfect this cookie.  For instance, I frosted the rounded side and dipped that in chocolate so that the flat bottoms would be stable.  The pictures I have seen were rounder because the frosting was piled on the flat side and then dipped in chocolate.  They are even more beautiful garnished with candied violets as I saw on one post.

Christmas Table 1

I am well on my way to completing my cookie baking.  So far I have made Mexican wedding cookies,  Chocolate and Pecan Shortbread Bars,  and the Sarah Bernhardt cookies.  This year I am wrapping my cookies in clear plastic bags tied with red ribbons.

Christmas Cookies 14 1

I hope you will find the time to make these delicious cookies.  They are worth a relaxing moment and maybe a sigh of satisfaction with a cup of tea or coffee.

SARAH BERNHARDT COOKIES (Mimi Thorisson)

Makes 40 to 50 individual cookies depending on size

For the Meringues:
4 large egg whites
2 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 cups almond flour

For the Frosting:
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks ( I used pasteurized eggs because the eggs are not cooked)
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water and cooled
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the meringue.  Whip the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until frothey.  Gradually add the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue whipping until the egg whites form stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.  Gently fold in the almond flour.  Using two spoons or a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, spoon or pipe the egg whites onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.  The meringues should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide and 1/3 to 1/2 inch high.

Bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets for 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Transfer the cooled meringues to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze while you make the frosting.

Make the frosting.  With a wooden spoon, in a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the butter until smooth.  Whisk the egg yolks in another medium bowl until pale and thick, then gradually stir into the butter mixture.  Pour in the dissolved coffee, add the cocoa powder, and mix until the frosting is smooth and thick.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to firm up a bit, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the meringues from the freezer.  Use a spoon or a palette knife to spread about 1 1/2 teaspoon frosting over the bottom of each meringue.  Return to the freezer frosting side up for 15 minutes to harden.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Bring an inch or two of water to a simmer in a saucepan, put the bowl on top, and melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes ( You can use the microwave if your prefer.)  Remove from the heat.  The chocolate should be just warm to the touch; if it is warmer, let it cool a bit.

Dip the frosted side of each meringue in the melted chocolate so the frosting is entirely covered.  Let set on a large piece of parchment paper.

Line a large container with parchment paper and arrange the meringues in it, layering them between sheets of parchment.  Cover the paper and close the lid tightly.  The meringues will keep in the freezer for up to a month.

Printable Recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.